07-29-2006 07-29-2006
Skinner Auctions
Skinner Auctions Boston MA
2345 Boston
July 29, 2006 10:00 AMCalender

Rare Chronophotographe 35 mm. Cinematographic Camera by Georges Demeny

Auction: Clocks, Watches & Scientific Instruments - 2345 Location: Boston Date / Time: July 29, 2006 10:00AM


Rare Chronophotographe 35 mm. Cinematographic Camera by Georges Demeny, Model C, No. 1512, the brass bedplate stamped Se. Demeny Bte. S.G.D.G. and L. Gaumont & Cie., Paris in an oval, with hand-cranked double-sprocket movement, each brass sprocket with 32-teeth, the lower driving the upper by geared right-angled rod, the upper sprocket driving a pulley with leather belt connected to the top-mounted film box, with steel beater and celluloid film guides, in dovetailed walnut case with two film counters on the front, top and back-mounted film boxes, box-type finder on the side (lacking right-angle mirror) and sliding lens panel with a brass-bound Ernemann Dopp-Anastigmat "Ernon" Set C f/3.5 60 mm. lens, camera ht. 11 x wd. 6 1/4 x dp. 4 1/2 in., (old splits to front and back body panels, movement cleaned, film boxes refinished / reconstructed)

Note: Georges Demeny (1850 - 1917) was a chronophotographer, film maker, and an important pioneer of the early cinema. A physiology student of E.J. Marey, Demeny worked as an assistant at the Paris Station Physiologique where the first ever photo sequences of human and animal movement were shot, first on glass, and then on celluloid. The process, the earliest form of the motion picture, was known as Chronophotography. In 1892, four years before the Lumière brothers invented the Cinématographe, Georges Demeny patented the Phonoscope for showing moving images on glass or paper discs. He invented the revolutionary "beater movement" and reportedly also sketched a claw-mechanism which he showed to Louis Lumière in December 1894.

In 1895, Demeny formed a partnership with Leon Gaumont, a mechanic and film maker who had been employed in the Parisian workshops of Jules Carpentier. While Carpentier went on to construct the Lumière Cinématographe (and also possibly the cases of the Demeny cameras), Gaumont went into business on his own to exploit Demeny's beater principal, and became a major player in the French film industry. The name Gaumont lives on today.

Amongst the ten Demeny cameras that are believed to have survived, there are three principal models, with variations. Model A used unperforated film, Model B used perforated 60 mm. film, and Model C the new 35 mm. film. Of the three Demeny 35 mm. cameras to have been offered at auction in recent years, No. 260 was a small single-sprocket camera, while No. 1531 (Sotheby's London, September 2000) was a double-sprocket camera of apparently identical construction to the one here, but with the addition of a bicycle-chain driven from the crank to the rear film box for "taking up" the film. A leather belt connecting the upper sprocket and the top film box on No. 1512 serves the same purpose, and it is likely that a similar belt would originally have connected the crank to the lower film box. It is also possible that the single-sprocket cameras were intended for amateur, and the double-sprocket models for professional use by the earliest film-makers. Thanks to Stephen Herbert for assistance with this Lot.
Estimate $25,000-30,000


Georges Demeny, Leon Gaumont, Paris, steel beater, film maker, assistant at the Paris Station, Station Physiologique, Louis Lumière, Jules Carpentier, mechanic , mechanic and film maker, beater principal , London, Stephen Herbert