Louis Augustin Le Prince first cinematographer ?
Posted 02 August 2010 - 04:05 AM
Scott and Rawlence state that Le Prince had built two single lens cameras by 1888. One (of them) is at home with the National Media Museum of Bradford, England. The other . . .
In his 1985 L'affaire Lumière: Du mythe à l'histoire, enquête sur les origines du cinéma (Lumière affair: From myth to History, report on the origins of cinema), journalist Léo Sauvage quotes a note from Pierre Gras, director of the Dijon municipal library, “Le Prince died in Chicago in 1898, voluntary disappearance at the family’s request. Homosexuality.” This statement was made by a famous historian visiting the Dijon library, but kept secret. Gras showed this note to Sauvage in 1977. Wikipedia
Who actually built the devices? James William Longley, a mechanic of Leeds. Rawlence: “The metalwork was executed by Jim Longley. Of all the assistants, Adolphe remembered, Longley was the least dispensable. After working on the sixteen-lens projector at Rhodes Brothers, he began working directly for Le Prince. Longley was no mere helper, but something of an inventor in his own right. He was known locally for his ticket-issuing machines which were later fitted on Leeds omnibuses and on the turnstiles of a city cricket ground. One of his devices issued brass checks. A later machine produced boxes of matches. Le Prince found in Longley a mind already grappling with the mechanics of advancing identically shaped components. It was to serve him well when it came to problem-solving in the field of moving-picture technology.” (page 218)
Albert Summers Howell was born April 17, 1879. He was nine at the time Le Prince turned the crank of a chronophotographic if not cinematographic apparatus. Howell is generally said to be the inventor of the famous shuttle movement known from the Standard Camera of 1911-12. My question is, why should Mr. Howell be the inventor of an intermittently acting pair of leaves when Longley or Le Prince might have worked with such twenty years before?
That is what he took with him in 1890. Probably not physical, rather stored in his mind. Lots of european workers in Chicago, prospect of a World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. The Bell & Howell Company became surrected with a capital fault early in 1907 which nobody tells the implication of. Who held those 500 Dollars?
He who fed the knowledge from behind? It's a small step from a brass plate slapping against the aperture plate to a shuttle moving up and down an aperture plate with fixed pins, isn't it?
Posted 02 August 2010 - 05:44 PM
Also, I am interested in James Longley - as you say, more than an assistant, and possibly the man who should be credited with the "movement". A man who had patents in machines that punched out tram tickets is a worthy ancestor for our industry
Seriously though, do you have other sources of info on James Longley. Do tell.
Is the Leo Sauvage reference that you quote entirely in French? Or is a translation available. My French is not all it might be.
Posted 02 August 2010 - 08:42 PM
If you have further information, please post it of PM me.
Thanks a lot.
Posted 03 August 2010 - 02:17 AM
This is all the information I have.
Rawlence, page 263: “I am jumping to conclusions. Who’s to say what passed between them? People confess to sins other than failure and seek solutions other than suicide.” (On the last meeting at Bourges) Then: “One day, in the course of my long search, I tracked down a Le Prince painting in Wakefield Art Gallery. It was a large gouache portrait of an elderly in-law. In the hope of discovering some overlooked clue, I asked the gallery curator if I could look at the painting’s provenance. Someone else had been there before me. In the margin, alongside a typed ‘Painted by Le Prince in 1888’, I found a pencil-scrawled note which read: ‘Le Prince was gay. He was having an affair with his father-in-law. He engineered his own disappearance to avoid a scandal.’ The observation was signed.”
What I am after is the language of the things. People can be lying, the world is full of crap and thunder and initiation stories. But technique doesn't swindle. Metallurgy was headed by Chicago 110 years ago. When I read Mechanization Takes Command by Siegfried Giedion, 1948, that time comes to life in me. Let’s not forget that social classes were still intact at the end of the 19th century. Although Longley might have been the cleverest guy, Le Prince remains the mastermind. Regime of the pen
So, in one hand I can’t trust this Howell. I don’t trust that Kästner, either. Erich Kurt Kästner, born 1911, not to be confused with the author Erich Kästner, born 1899, was an employee with Arnold & Richter since 1932. He was credited with having part in the invention of the mirror shutter reflex viewfinder. Howell is credited with so many ideas. Some too frequent
Where to do your thoughts travel?
Posted 03 August 2010 - 03:37 AM
I have the Rawlence book. I now notice that the rest of your information is drawn from Wikipedia citations, and comments that Rawlence mentioned but which I had previously discounted for lack of any other evidence. You are now suggesting the possibility that Le Prince may have re-emerged in Chicago where a teenaged Albert Howell learnt from him, to form a company ten years after Le Prince's second death in 1898??? I'm happy to believe in Le Prince's camera as the first successful(ish) motion picture camera (though not really film as he only used paper rolls), but I'm not ready to see him as the true father of Bell and Howell - whose perforation standards are perhaps one of the most significant bits of engineering after the original inventions to have contributed to the rapid international spread of cinema.
Well of course it's speculation, but I understand what you are thinking about - that it is rarely one person who invents somethoing, and often it's not the inventor who gets the credit.
Yes, Longley (we're back in Leeds now) was undoubtedly clever, and certainly of a lower class than Le Prince, who, nevertheless possibly had the imagination to see the application of Longley's bits of metal. I have a particular interest in James Longley as I am certain that I am related to him, though more distantly than I at first hoped.
Posted 03 August 2010 - 07:45 AM
It's nice to feel your attachment to Longley as, let me say, relative in soul.
Do you know what brought me to my semi-conclusion? It is the remnant 1888 camera of which I can download picture files and try to interpret them. Of course, some general knowledge of motion-picture film cameras helps very much. There's a draught of its mechanism with Rawlence, and I wonder who made it. A technician of the NMM, maybe
http://www.leodis.ne...89&DISPLAY=FULL The other camera could have contained a better mechanism, perhaps with one or two sprocket drums, with freely acting loops, for perforated celluloid film. When founding Bell & Howell company Howell was 27 of age, Bell ten years older. http://books.google.... howell&f=false Note the phrase on page 48: “Within a year, however, the pair had innovated a film perforator, a camera, and a continuous printer, all based on 35mm width.” Fishy to me
Posted 17 May 2012 - 12:43 PM
Le Prince's story has been one of my personal interests regarding the history of film. It's a story filled with missing pieces and one that is no longer told.
If you have further information, please post it of PM me.
Thanks a lot.
I can tell you that the story is still very much told in Leeds.
I think there is even a blue plaque on Leeds Bridge.
Preety sure anyway, I'll keep an eye out for it next time I cross it.
Also various stuff gets named after the guy and generally he is seen as the inventor as the movie camera.