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Was the reflex shutter developed by Bell & Howell Co. ?


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#1 Simon Wyss

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 01:26 PM

On a historical trail

Arri states that Erich Kurt Kästner, 1911-2005 (not to be mistaken for the writer Emil Erich Kästner, 1899-1974), joined Arnold & Richter in 1933 and acted there as designer-in-chief. Note that he had 21 or 22 years of age then.

The Arriflex is still the most compact and most lightweight 35-mm movie film camera with a three-lens turret.

After many years of research on the development of the motion-picture film camera I am near conviction that this camera is older than what they say at München and has its origin somewhere else, presumably in Chicago, USA. Many technical points indicate that A REFLEX evolved almost consequental in the Eyemo line and everything that was not covered by Mitchell.

The Californians went the studio line: Standard (1920), High Speed (1925), Newsreel Camera (1927), Beamsplitter Three Strip Camera for Technicolor Corp. (1932), Blimped Newsreel "Sound" Camera (1934). The Bell & Howell Standard Cinematograph Camera of 1911 was banned from studio floors from about 1929 on. In that year the Eyemo got its three-port turret. One needed money in Chicago. What to do ?

The Olympic Games were up to Lake Placid for February and summer 1932 in Los Angeles. Bell & Howell Co. opened affiliates in New York City and in Los Angeles in 1932.

Is it not astounding that two people in Germany should have found the design and not a most active research and development department with experienced engineers ?

Is there anybody out there who could follow until here and would share some thoughts on the subject ? Someone with a dismantled Arriflex is politely asked to make some measurements on various parts in the imperial system. I think there can be found some inch values . . .
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#2 Bruce McNaughton

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 02:17 AM

I doubt that this line of thinking is correct. As far as I know the very first ARRI (AR from Arnold and RI from Richter) did not incorporate not the spinning mirror invention, for which they gained an Oscar many years later. But their second model did. This was the Arriflex 1. It was apparently developed to capture the Berlin Olympics in 1936. I think that you will find that the only similarity with the Eyemo is the 3 lens turret. But I also understand that most cameras at that time had a turret. I know for a fact that the drive train bears little resemblance. Arri cameras were brought to the United States during the war, captured from Nazi cameramen. The US (very poor copy) version was a US knockoff, so to suggest that the Arri people used a US camera as their model is I think a bit off the mark...

Interesting piece of trivia is that my first employer was a newsreel cameraman during the second world war. He used an Arri (no idea where it came from to be issued by Movietone Australia as standard equipment.) He tells the story that he stood up to get a shot at some Germans who instantly surrendered to him thinking that he had a gun...

Regards

Bruce
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#3 Simon Wyss

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 06:47 AM

I know that ARRI stems from Arnold & Richter. Their first cameras were the Kinarri, closer to the Akeley. There is no such thing as an Arriflex 1 or I, it is just the Arriflex. I know that the camera was in use at Berlin, 1936. One more similarity with a Bell & Howell design? The gearing is basically that of the 2709 turned by 90 degrees. The Caméclair of 1920 has a six lens turret. Most certainly nobody noticed any brand in Los Angeles had a prototype been used. It's about a license agreement.
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#4 Simon Wyss

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 03:19 PM

Was in Hollywood, payed a visit to Larry Edmunds Bookshop, and found The Technique of the Motion Picture Camera by H. Mario Raimondo Souto, third edition.

Souto writes about the viewfinder system of the Arriflex, that it was developed in 1931 (nineteenthirtyone), two times. First time on page 44, second time on page 108. Now, isn't that an assist? How does this widely travelled member of the SMPTE come to say 1931.

And he mentiones Erich Kaestner. Only that Kästner was not with Arnold & Richter before 1933 . . .
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#5 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 10:59 AM

Simon,
I'm like a week late on this thread, but that book sounds great...how in-depth does it go, in regards to the history of motion picture cameras? I'm starting to become really interested in learning more about the older cameras, especially Arriflex. I'd be curious to hear about anything else you've read or researched about this.
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#6 John Sprung

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 01:55 PM

There is no such thing as an Arriflex 1 or I, it is just the Arriflex. I know that the camera was in use at Berlin, 1936.


It wasn't called the Arri Model I at the time of its manufacture. In those days, they called it the "hand camera". With the post-war reconstruction of the factory, the new cameras were called Model II, making their predecessors retroactively the Model I. Parts are not necessarily interchangeable between the I and early II. Serial numbers for the Model I started at #500 in 1938. The highest numbered Model I I've heard of is #1971, now in a private collection. I have two of them, #1420 and #1578. The Model II numbers were started at #2000. The hand camera did not exist in 1936. They showed a non-functional mock-up at the Leipzig trade fair in the spring of 1937, but didn't deliver cameras until 1938. Samuelson's in London owned the very first, #500, until just a few years ago, when it was auctioned at Christie's. There were also a couple imported into New York before the war.

For the most part, the Model I's were used to shoot the newsreel of those times, "Die Deutsche Wochenschau". You can find some of that material on the internet. The edition for August 14, 1940 even includes some shots of an Arri mounted in the cockpit of a fighter plane, plus some footage of the coast shot from the air.

The Bell & Howell Eyemo went into production in 1927, and was used in Germany prior to the introduction of the Arri "hand camera". Reifenstahl used them on the Olympics, they're in production stills. The only thing about the Arri design that is somewhat similar to the Eyemo is the lens mount, with the lenses focusing by turning inside the mount, with that steel tongue holding the middle against rotation of the outer cylinder. But Arri chose wisely not to make their camera compatible with the Eyemo lenses, as there was no way to guarantee that an Eyemo lens would allow enough room for the mirror shutter.

I've always wanted to find out more about these cameras, but even to this day, that part of history is a painful subject for the Germans.



-- J.S.
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#7 Simon Wyss

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 12:48 PM

The Bell & Howell Eyemo was made available to the public in 1925. It was reported in the May Journal of the SMPE.

 

My thoughts go deeper. I mean to say the neither August Arnold, nor Robert Richter, nor Erich Kästner could possibly have had a thorough knowledge of motion-picture camera design in general. An industry of camera making had already been established and was well positioned in France, in England, and in the USA. Ensign, Moy & Bastie, Newman-Sinclair after Newman & Guardia, Debrie, Eclair, Le Blay, Bourdereau, Bünzli & Continsouza, Gaumont, Wilart, Universal, Institute, Mitchell, Akeley, to say nothing of B. & H. The center of gravity in metallurgy, die-casting in special, was Chicago, 25 years before the advent of the ARRIFLEX: Herman H. Doehler, 1910. The first die-casting enterprise in Europe was in this country, when Injecta got founded in 1920. Technology transfer in its purest form

 

No, the ARRIFLEX is an American export. The Paillard-Bolex-H camera, too. There is a bunch of inch measures with each Bolex, a clear lead to that it is not Swiss. Imperial measures are also in the ARRIFLEX.


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#8 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 18 September 2013 - 09:01 AM

Interesting conspiracy theory Simon, but I'm not convinced by your evidence. Which parts of an Arriflex 35 are Imperial size? Have you dismantled and measured one from that era? There could be other reasons for Imperial sizes other than it was an American invention, imported tooling for example.

 

Why could Arnold, Richter or Kästner not have had a thorough understanding of motion-picture camera design? Arri had been manufacturing cameras since 1924, and their unusual Kinarri design shows they were not afraid to experiment. A nod to the Akeley certainly, but different to other small handheld designs of the day, which generally followed the box-shaped pattern of Ernemann or DeVry. The Arriflex 35 is really quite a simple camera compared to a Debrie Parvo or Bell & Howell Standard, the breakthrough wasn't in the engineering but the concept. According to Raimondo-Souto's other excellent book "Motion Picture Photography" Arnold and Richter patented the mirror reflex idea in 1931, but a prototype wasn't made until 1936. Perhaps it took Kästner's expertise to turn idea into reality.

 

It's true that despite Germany's enormously influential film industry of the 20s professional studio motion-picture camera manufacturing was curiously centred elsewhere. The UFA studio in Berlin used Pathes, Parvos and Eclairs. But Germany had a wealth of compact camera manufacturers as well as arguably the most advanced and innovative optical manufacturing in the world. Just prior to the Arriflex 35 the Berlin firm Askania produced a revolutionary hand-held camera named "Shulter" which for the first time conceived a body shape designed to rest on the shoulder - decades before Eclair or Aaton claimed the innovation. German cinematography had a history of leading the way with free camera movement, from Murnau's "unchained camera" moves in The Last Laugh to Riefenstahl's work in Triumph of the Will, so it seems a natural progression that a German company might invent the ultimate hand-held camera with a reflex viewfinder.

 

I'm not sure what the history of die-casting has to do with it, surely you're not suggesting that a country which by the mid 30s had among the most advanced automotive and aeronautic industries in the world was incapable of casting a relatively simple camera body?


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#9 Simon Wyss

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 02:21 PM

Conspiracy? Who would conspire with whom? No, not a theory, collecting things

 

I have no evidence and I’m not up to convincing. Only searching the truth because some declarations by ARRI can’t be true.

 

First, they don’t show the early ARRIFLEX as it was. Pictorial misleading for a light grey camera with an undiscernible motor. The only evidence for a non-black ARRIFLEX are a model on display (or not?) with the Munich Deutsches Museum and a photograph of Kästner with it.

 

Second, Imperial measures can be found on solid parts. I once had an ARRIFLEX with me and took measurements. Unfortunately, I haven’t one now, that’s why I’d appreciate very much if somebody with an old model would join the investigation. The blank, axle distances, blocks, the basic geometry, of course not the housing since cast aluminum alloys show material shrinkage, and not work on the cast parts because they were metric. Inch measures like those I found with the Paillard-Bolex-H camera

 

Third, Kästner was born April 5, 1911. We don’t know when his contract with Arnold & Richter began precisely. Gerhard Fromm, whom I know personally, states of 1932. They say 1932 with Historisches Lexikon Bayerns, too. Merkur-Online.de: “Kästner hatte als 21-Jähriger mit Firmengründer August Arnold die ersten serienmäßig gefertigten Filmkameras entwickelt  . . . ” (K. had developed the first movie cameras built in series together with company founder A. A. at the age of 21.) Expertise?

 

Citing the KINARRI, let me point out that there’s a giant leap between these cameras. The KINARRI has the all-surrounding drum shutter not only similar to Akeley’s but also to Smith’s apparatus of 1897. Smith probably wasn’t known of. The claw design can be held up against the early one with the ARRIFLEX. The internal magazine sounds a note of Akeley. But the turret and the mirror shutter in a die-cast frame are way above the KINARRI box.

 

I do chime in with that an attempt was made at having the professional camera in little, by Askania. It’s actually almost the only one. Linhof Coco, Debrie Sept after Tartara, Cinégraphe Bol, Bourdereau Cinex, these are products for the amateur. Still the conceptual difference, you say it right, between the Askania and the mirror-shutter reflex camera is thundering.

 

Fourthly, the history of die-casting has to do with the ARRIFLEX inasmuch as the ARRIFLEX cameras have die-cast bodies. Dom, when you say a prototype has been ready in 1936 it may have been made from solid and sheet metal. The serial models from 1937 on, ARRI state that serial production was commenced in 1937, are all cast. At the latest from then on patterns must have been in existence, molds, the whole development of right and left shell, lid, and magazine. The prototype is said to have been equipped with a sheet mag, screwed to the body. No ARRIFLEX has ever been reported of being made out of solid. All of them seem to have a cast body, including the so-called prototype varnished light grey.

 

If Souto were right, why would Arnold & Richter have waited with their new camera from 1931 until 1937? What made them hesitate to bring out a revolutionary camera in the time of the greatest depression? Let me reverse the question. Would Arnold & Richter have employed an engineer for perfecting a product without a firm prospect of success in 1932, something proven?

 

The objectional question why a country like Germany should not have been able to cast a camera body in the 1930s can not be put. That’s our thinking of today plus an Anglo-Saxon way of thinking. Which other parts of Germany should have participated in the development of Arnold & Richter’s latest camera? The pivotal point was casting at its best—think of the thumb talon undercut. Certainly, vertical gyro instruments with airplanes could have had a cast front frame, cars got aluminum carburetor parts or door handles. It’s the silence over Arnold & Richter’s tie to the industry, the same silence over Bell & Howell’s tie to bigger boys. The 2709 was there, almost suddenly, within a year and a half after the Black Box. It’s these things that pique me.

 

 

Only question, naturally. I build prototypes myself. I can’t help asking.

_______________________________________

 

http://www.kameraman...r-den-film-4773

 


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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 September 2013 - 05:56 PM

I'm having a hard time following your line of argument... it may help if you wrote this down in a timeline format for Arri's and Bell & Howell's camera technology development, both in terms of what was released and what was published.


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#11 Simon Wyss

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 05:32 AM

Bell & Howell Co., founded February 17, 1907

Rotary framing device to Kinedrome projectors invented by Edwin H. Amet (1860‒1948), for George K. Spoor (1872‒1953)

Perforator, 1908

Single taking lens “Black Box” camera, 1909

Continuous printer, Standard first all-metal camera; 1911 (cameras sold from 1912 on)

Split film combat camera, 1917

Donald Bell retires from company, 1917

Pedal splicer, 1918

Small gauge safety film home movies system for Eastman-Kodak Co., 1919-20

16-mm. Filmo camera and projector, December 1923

35-mm. Eyemo camera, April 1925

“Watch-thin” Filmo 75 camera, 1928

Three port turret to Filmo and Eyemo cameras; opening of  Rockwell Engineering Laboratories, September 1929

High speed governor to Filmo and Eyemo cameras, 1930

Opening of Los Angeles branch, 1931

Filmosound 16-mm. projectors since 1932

Sportster Double-Eight film camera, 1938

 

 

Arnold & Richter Co., founded September 12, 1917

Richter and Arnold work as cameramen and offer lab services

Printers since 1917 (improvements 1920, new model 1925)

Facetet reflectors to brutes; 50-ft. KINARRI 1924

100-ft. KINARRI, KINARRI Tropen, 1925

KINARRI 16 and 9,5; 1928

Erich K. Kästner employed, 1932

Pre-ARRIFLEX or prototype (?) at Berlin Olympic Games, 1936

Fresnel lens lamp heads; ARRIFLEX 1937

 

 

 

General

Information that the next Olympic Games will be held in the U. S. A. released April 12, 1923, in Rome, Italy


Edited by Simon Wyss, 23 September 2013 - 05:35 AM.

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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 10:49 AM

So how does that timeline prove or imply that Bell & Howell invented the reflex camera instead of Arri?


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#13 Simon Wyss

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 01:11 PM

Should it? David, you are making me laugh.

 

Bell & Howell had lost the studio floor to Mitchell with the advent of sound recording. They still had a good position with the perforator, printers, and the compact handheld cameras. In 16-mm. film projection Ampro was a strong competitor together with RCA, Victor, and others.

 

To me there are parallels in both enterprises. Young people put together by seniors for mutual profit. Spoor bought himself into Amet’s projector. He also financed the first Bell & Howell camera project. $500 of the founding $5000 were not assigned. Someone had a hand in the business. Ref. Robinson

 

Richter and Arnold didn’t have the professional training as engineers to configure cameras. Not that one of them was unpractical, on the contrary, but they were never busy with arranging the often conflicting tasks of the mechanical and optical parts, the possibilities coming from cast elements, and of course the economical requirements. Kästner didn’t know much of it, either, when he was hired.

 

We have some evidence when we analyze the camera. A resembling claw mechanism appears in U. S. patent 1,834,948 to Albert Howell. Almost unchanged this was employed with the 1931 Pathé Lux projector. Technology transfer to France. Against cash

 

From France, on the other hand, may come the sloping top with single compartment magazine. Ref. Debrie G. V. So it takes people well informed about what’s on the market, from Redondo Beach to the Ural Mountains. Engineers with Bell & Howell Co. in Chicago worked in the world’s leading industrial centre. ARRI bought a licence. Nothing anywhere in Europe has a resemblance with the ARRIFLEX. The Bell & Howell 2709 has. Mirrored, turret made smaller, chamber minimized, a simple but effective movement without a feed roller, exactly on the elapse of the Vinik patent in 1934. Ref. U. S. 1,218,342. Vinik lived in Manhattan, New York.

 

I also don’t believe the story told about the Cineflex. That camera could as well have been licenced directly from Bell & Howell Co. or a subsidiary to Cameraflex Corp. The Cineflex looks even more like the 2709 with details like the shutter angles and exposure times table on the turret barrel. Contrary to the ARRIFLEX the Cineflex has its motors at the side, not underneath. Obviously, the Germans didn’t want a spring motor.

 

Is anybody willing to help? ARRI isn’t holy. Neither am I.

 

 


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#14 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 03:40 AM

Simon,

I found some time today to disassemble and measure the early Arriflex 35 we have in our museum. Serial number 700 makes it (I believe) the 200th Arriflex made. 

 

I found no imperial dimensions whatsoever (apart from the standard 3/16 mounting thread in the base). Many of the actual cast dimensions are neither precisely metric nor imperial, but then the form is often curved or sloping. Of the unmachined dimensions that were metric:

width of door measured from raised light seal: 90.0mm 

bore diameter for viewfinder tube: 24.0mm

outer diameter of turret casting: 112.0mm

outer diameter of cast hood base: 120.0mm

 

Some other dimensions:

turret shaft dia: 8.0mm

main drive shaft dia: 6.0mm

claw eccentric cam shaft dia: 4.0mm

mirror shutter bearing housing diameter: 20.0mm

distance between rear side cover screw centres: 52.0mm

flange depth: 52.0mm (obviously!)

etc

 

The movement patent by Howell you refer to resembles the later cardiod cam design, not implemented by Arri until the 50s. The first movement was a very simple eccentric with a cam underneath that shifted the long claw arm pivot back and forth. No dwelling at the bottom of the pulldown to increase steadiness, no rigid claw frame:

 

dmz3.jpg

 
 
A picture of the simple but effective gear chain, accessed by removing the side cover (held by only 4 screws and the inching knob):
 
eo2i.jpg
 
 
And the front turret cavity:

ni4r.jpg

 

 

I'm no expert in casting technology but the rough unmachined areas look more like they were sand cast than die cast.

 

I have more pictures if you're interested in a specific area.

 

I personally can't see any resemblance to a Bell & Howell 2709, or any other B & H camera. 


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#15 Mike Short

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 07:58 PM

Dom,
I thought I would attach photos of my Arriflex 35 serial 675 for comparison. I know my camera was last serviced by Arri in Germany - probably within the last 20 years or so. I have not removed the turret yet. Door is numbered 527.

 

 

Attached Images

  • P1030880.jpg
  • P1030877.jpg
  • P1030887.jpg

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#16 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 08:17 PM

Thanks Mike, very nice. Yours is even older than ours, but curiously has the round matte box shaft. 


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#17 Mike Short

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 08:23 PM

Thanks Mike, very nice. Yours is even older than ours, but curiously has the round matte box shaft. 

Dom,

Who knows maybe the matte box shaft was replaced at some point. Mine does not have the Pertinax gate so that was also replaced at some point.

Mike.


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#18 Simon Wyss

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 02:08 PM

I'm no expert in casting technology but the rough unmachined areas look more like they were sand cast than die cast.

 

This is it, I have to correct myself.

 

http://www.lusznat.d...riflex-story-01

 

If there are questions, I shall translate whatever portion of the text.


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#19 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 15 March 2014 - 08:18 PM

Nice to know I was correct.  B)

 

That link is the best history of the Arriflex 35 (particularly pre-war) that I've ever come across, lots of fascinating info. Thanks Simon.

 

It deserves a good translation, or at least a better one than online translators are capable of. 

 

I haven't read this new book yet, though from the title it seems more focussed on the post-war, American history:

http://www.amazon.co...2/dp/1617037419


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#20 Simon Wyss

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Posted 16 March 2014 - 05:12 AM

Getting closer to the truth

 

Hydronalium as a trade mark to IG Farben goes back to the research work of chemist Adolf Franz Beck (b. December 2nd, 1892, in Chicago, ILL, to German parents). It was first alloyed in 1929 and made available as sheets in 1931 from IG Farben’s works in Bitterfeld. IG Farben had overcome the crisis already towards the end of 1932 thanks to a constant cash flow of the Bitterfeld section II.

Dirk Hackenholz: Die elektrochemischen Werke in Bitterfeld 1914‒1945. Ein Standort der IG Farbenindustrie AG. LIT, May 2004

 

Germany got a New Plan in 1934, set to force by Hjalmar Schacht on September 4. Mind wanders to the New Deal, promised to America by Roosevelt on July 2, 1932, and brought forward from 1933 on.

 

Arnold & Richter seem to have come near IG Farben via the Hydronalium cast parts of their new camera. What we don’t know is where the casting took place.


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