Lumière Cinématographe Camera, Printer, and Projector, 1895

Description
The Early Cinema Equipment Collection [COLL.PHOTOS.000037] includes machines used to make and exhibit motion pictures during the industry’s early days, including cameras, projectors, perforators, printers and film rewinds. This collection is comprised of 36 motion picture cameras, 105 movie projectors and more than 60 pieces of editing and other apparatus that help to tell the story of the motion picture in American life from 1885 to the mid-twentieth century. The museum acquired these machines from two types of sources, inventors and their families and motion picture machine collectors. Donations made from the 1890s to 1950s came primarily from a number of motion picture innovators who gave apparatus to the Smithsonian’s National Museum in attempts to cement their places in the history of cinema.
Charles Francis Jenkins, an early motion picture engineer, donated twenty pieces of apparatus related to his work from 1898 to 1921. Jenkins’ contributions include four experimental high-speed rotary lens cameras, six projector prototypes and a group of early film editing equipment. Otway and Woodville Latham donated their original Eidoloscope projector, an 1895 machine which was among the first film projectors ever built. Photographer Wallace Gould Levison gave the museum his 1887 experimental motion picture camera and several plates and prints. Levison’s camera exposed twelve glass plates per second at a time before film became widely available, but was never commercially produced. Eberhard Schneider, an exhibitor and engineer, donated four cameras, two projectors and a group of editing equipment of his design from the early twentieth century. The Technicolor Corporation contributed two cameras used to make color movies in the company’s early days, the most notable of which was 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. Cameras, projectors and other movie-making equipment in the museum’s collection also signify the contributions of E. H. Amet, Jean Acme LeRoy, Thomas Armat, August Plahn and George R. Goergens.
The second significant source of movie machines in the Photographic History Collection was collector Gatewood Dunston. The former projectionist had accumulated the nation’s largest collection of motion picture media and apparatus by the time of his death in 1956, when he willed the collection to the Smithsonian’s Photographic Section. Among the 864 items in the bequest were 59 early projectors and 6 pieces of editing equipment. Some of the most significant movie projectors of the early twentieth century are represented in the collection due to the Dunston bequest, including Motiograph, Gaumont, Powers, Simplex, Edison, Selig and Pathe models. The editing apparatus illuminates the entirety of the motion picture production process during the rise and height of the Hollywood studio system.
This finding aid is one in a series documenting the PHC’s Early Cinema Collection [COLL.PHOTOS.000018]. The cinema-related objects cover the range of technological innovation and popular appeal that defined the motion picture industry during a period in which it became the premier form of mass communication in American life, roughly 1885-1930. See also finding aids for Early Sound Cinema [COLL.PHOTOS.000040], Early Color Cinema [COLL.PHOTOS.000039], Early Cinema Film and Ephemera [COLL.PHOTOS.000038] and the Gatewood Dunston Collection [COLL.PHOTOS.000021].
Object Name
camera, lumiere cinematographe
camera
motion picture
projector
maker
Auguste and Louis Lumiere
Physical Description
manufactured (overall production method/technique)
Measurements
overall: 33 cm x 19 cm x 12.5 cm; 13 in x 7 15/32 in x 4 29/32 in
place patented
France: Rhône-Alpes, Lyons
ID Number
PG*006299
catalog number
6299
accession number
238258
subject
Early Motion Picture Equipment Collection
Motion Pictures
Popular Entertainment
Photo History Collection
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Early Motion Picture Equipment Collection
Photo History Collection
Exhibition
Inventing In America
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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