Catalogue des appareils cinématographiques de la Cinémathèque française et du CNC

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Projecteur de film 35 mm

N° Inventaire : AP-95-1748(1/3)

Collection : La Cinémathèque française

Catégorie d'appareil : Projection lumineuse cinématographique

Nom du modèle : Theatrograph n° 2 Mark 1

Numéro de fabrication : n° 693 ; n° 697 (quatre vis)

Lieu de fabrication : Londres, Grande-Bretagne

Année de fabrication : 1896

Brevet : Robert-William Paul, B.P. n° 4686, date of application, 2 mars 1896, complete specification 30th Nov. 1896, accepted 23rd Jan... +

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Type de l'appareil

entraînement du film 35 mm par deux croix de Malte sept branches ; deux débiteurs dentés ; obturateur à boisseau ; bobine débitrice et sac en toile pour recevoir le film après projection ; lanterne en bois avec condensateur ; pied en fonte ; roue d'entraînement


Paul Robert William
Londres, 44 Hatton Garden


Robert William Paul
Londres, 44 Hatton Garden


Paul Robert William
Londres, 44 Hatton Garden


Informations non disponibles

Sujet du modèle

Informations non disponibles


condensateur 10 cm Ø ; objectif 1 lentille 5 cm Ø (incomplet)

Taille de l'objet

Ouvert :
Informations non disponibles

Fermé :
Longueur : 110 cm
Largeur : 37 cm
Hauteur : 138 cm

Diamètre :
Informations non disponibles

Taille de la boîte de transport

Longueur : 46.5 cm
Largeur : 27 cm
Hauteur : 69.5 cm


Collection Will Day (n° 129). Will Day a acquis ce projecteur auprès de Emilie Hertz (femme de Carl Hertz) : "Dear Mr. Day, received cheque value £ 8-0-0 for Pauls old machine & films. I will bring machine round early next week, as I have not had time to go to the stores this week. Yours sincerely Emilie Hertz". Cette lettre, dont le papier en tête porte le nom et le portrait de "Carl Hertz, assisted by Miss Emilie d'Alton", n'est pas datée, mais elle a été probablement rédigée après la mort de Hertz (1924).

Le premier exemplaire du Theatrograph, fonctionnant avec une seule croix de Malte à sept branches, servit pour une projection donnée le 20 février 1896. Paul perfectionne le projecteur, lui adapte deux croix de Malte à sept branches et dépose un brevet le 2 mars 1896. La Cinémathèque en possède trois modèles différents (l'un a été transformé en caméra par Georges Méliès : voir AP-95- 1450 ; l'autre a été transformé par Robert William Paul lui-même : voir AP-95- 1654). L'exemplaire le plus complet est celui-ci : il a été acquis à Paul, vers le mois de mars 1896, par le magicien américain Carl Hertz (Louis Morgenstein, San Francisco,1859-1924), qui partait faire des projections (avec des films réalisés par R.W. Paul) en Afrique du Sud et en Australie. Hertz a donné des projections sur le bateau "Norman" qui faisait la traversée. La première projection de Hertz en Afrique du Sud a lieu le 11 mai 1896 à Johannesburg, à l'Empire Theatre of Varieties. Après plusieurs projections dans différents endroits, Hertz se rend en Australie. Une projection sur invitation est donnée à l'Opera House de Melbourne le 17 août 1896 et la première projection payante est donnée le 22 août 1896. Hertz ensuite a continué sa tournée à Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Inde, Chine, Japon, les îles Fiji et Hawaii. Il est retourné en Australie en juillet et en novembre 1897.

"129. One Animatograph. This was the first projector constructed by R.W. Paul of London, to give the first public displays of moving pictures at the Alhambra Theatre, Leicester Square, London, in opposition to the displays at the Empire Theatre. This machine is complete on the original iron pedestal stand, and has a silken bag in front mounted on an iron hoop to receive films after showing. It is also fitted with the original lamp house and lens, and was sold to the late Mr Carl Hertz, the magician and card manipulator, who toured it through Africa and the far East after nine week's use at the Alhambra, March, 1896" (Will Day, Illustrated Catalogue of the Will Day Historical Collection, Londres, s.d., [1934], p. 21).

"R.W. Paul solution to the problem of film projection was speedily resolved, and his first projector was ready not later than 20 February 1896, when it was exhibited at the Finsbury Technical College. [...] A notice of Paul's first projector, which was called the Theatrograph, appeared in The English Mechanic for 21 February 1896. [...] It was clearly Paul's intention at this time to manufacture the Theatrograph projector for the commercial market. [La première version fonctionne avec une seule croix de Malte à sept branches et un débiteur]. The first Theatrograph projector was not patented, and no examples of it are known to be extant. [...] R. W. Paul, lecture to the BKS on 3 February 1936 : "I first adopted a modification of the familiar Geneva Stop, as used in watches, to give an intermittent motion to the sprocket. Because the 14-picture sprocket of the kinetoscope had to great an inertia I made one in aluminium, one-half its diameter. My first projector is described in The English Mechanic of February 21st and March 6th, 1896. It was intended to be sold at five pounds, and to be capable of attachment to any existing lantern. The seven-toothed star wheel was driven by a steel finger-wheel which acted also as a locking device during the period when the shutter was open. [...] A fault, which I ought to have foreseen, was the unsteadiness caused by the inertia of the spool of films, and it became necessary to insert the films, 40 or 80 feet long, singly. So this model, with I first saw a moving picture on the screen, was promptly scrapped". [...] We have conclusive evidence that it was used at the performances given at the Finsbury Technical College on 20 February, at the Royal Institution on 28 February, and at Olympia from 21 March. We have reason to believe that it may also have been used for a few performances at the Alhambra, Leicester Square, from 25 March, as well as at other theatres in London. The major defect of this first model, as Paul has pointed out, was the drag on the film caused by the weight of the top spool when overloaded with too much film. Since most of Paul's film subject at this period were either 40 or 80ft long, only one or two subjects could be laced in the machine at one time. This was a decided drawback as far as public exhibition was concerned and Paul set about designing a second model, also called the Theatrograph, which he patented on 2 March 1896 (n° 4686). From an examination of contemporary reviews of Paul's early film performances, we have reason to believe that it was not until the end of the following month that this second model had been manufactured in sufficient quantities to replace all the old ones then in use. Paul's first perfomance at the Alhambra took place on Wednesday, 25 March, and was written up in The Era the following Saturday. [...] The Era, 16th May : "Mr Paul has much improved his animated pictures presented by means of his clever invention. The finish of the Derby of 1895 excites enthusiasm nightly". [...] It is impossible to determine, from the evidence at present available, just how many examples of the first Theatrograph were manufactured, but it may be possible to account for six. If we accept the supposition that Paul's new model was not ready in sufficient numbers to replace all the old ones in use until the end of April, then it is reasonable to assume that some of the performances given before that date were with the first model. [...] Paul's second Theatrograph projector was patented on 2 March 1896 (n° 4686), a little more than a week after the first was exhibited at the Finsbury Technical College (20 February). Production of the first model had thus hardly got under way when Paul, realising its shortcomings, immediately set about designing this new machine. Although a marked improvement on the former, the second Theatrograph did not entirely satisfy Paul either and he later made several minor modifications to its design. In his BKS lecture, Paul related the sequence of improvements which he carried out after the first Theatrograph had been completed and found wanting : "The next steep consisted in duplicating the intermittent sprockets, the film being kept more or less taut between them. At that time the fact or liability to shrinkage in the film was not realised. The new mechanism had a revolving shutter in the form of a horizontal drum cut away in two opposite sides, and rewind spool was provided, driven by a splipping belt. A large hand wheel was belted to a small pulley on the finger-wheel spindle, the latter being coupled to the shutter spindle by spurs gears. This machine is illustrated in my Patent Specification of March 2nd, 1896, and was supplied with its lantern as a complete projector, either on an iron pillar or with a combined carrying case and strand. After a few of these projectors had been put into operation the need for larger spools, to contain a series of films, became evident. So additional sprockets were arranged to give continuous feed abowe and below the intermittent sprockets, and the masking device was improved. Of this model over 100 were produced, many being exported to the Continent and some to the United States. A precisely similar mechanism was used in the perforator and in the camera. An example of the camera of 1896, as used for taking many of my early films, is preserved in the Science Museum, together with the projector just described. These machines were decidedly noisy, an objection which was minimised by the fact that projection was usually from the back of the stage, through a translucent screen". [...] Carl Hertz, a well-known American conjurer and showman, was one of the very first to acquire one. In his autobiography, A Modern Mystery Merchant, Hertz relates the circumstances leading up to the acquisition of the first of the new machines. Paul was reluctant to part with it, and since Hertz was about to sail for his tour of South Africa and Australia, and was bent on taking the new machine with him, he unscrewed it from the floor, thrust £ 100 into Paul's hand and departed with it. However exaggerated this story may be, it does provide an approximate date for the completion of this model, for we know Hertz sailed for South Africa on 28 March 1896, and we also know that he took one of Paul's machine with him. This same Theatrograph projector, which one belonged to Carl Hertz, is claimed to be in the Will Day Collection of Historic Cinematograph and Moving Picture Equipment. Although the catalogue entry is inaccurate in other respects, there is no reason to doubt that the machine listed as item n° 129 is Hertz's actual machine. It is shown in the photograph reproduced in the catalogue as Plate 5a. Here it can be seen on the top shelf of the show-case exhibited at the Science Museum, where it was once on loan. The apparatus is shown complete with its lantern, but without the iron pillard. The machine, it will be remembered, was supplied either on an iron pillar or with a combined carrying case which also served as a projection stand. The latter would, of course, be the more convenient arrangement for Hertz's purposes, since he had to take it with him on his various travels, and lightness and portability were factors to be considered. I have not had the opportunity of examining the actual apparatus, but a study of the photograph in the Will Day catalogue clearly shows it to be the first pattern, since there is no indication of the additional sprockets which Paul says were added in the modified version to provide a continuous feed to the film above and below the two intermittent sprockets. It should be noted that the provision for additional sprockets was made in the complete specification which was not deposited with the Patent Office until 30 November 1896. Paul's second Theatrograph projector is also illustrated in The Strand Magazine for August 1896, where it is the first pattern that is again shown. A comparison with the model in the Will Day collection shows only a difference in the lantern. The one shown in the Strand photograph has a short cylindrical chimney surmounted by a rose-type cowl, whereas that in the Will Day photograph has an oblong cowl with a slightly curved top. [...] Be this as it may, the projection mechanism is identical in both cases. A similar projector, donated by R. W. Paul, is in the Science Museum, South Kensington, but is incomplete, although the missing parts have been replaced by replicas copied from the machine in the Will Day Collection at the time the latter was on loan to the museum. The replica parts include the lamphouse or lantern, driving handle, film spool and optical system. [...] Paul also states that improvements were made to the masking device, ie the picture rack adjustment. Although Paul says that over 100 of this model were produced, we have not been able to trace a single example. There exists, however, a variation of this projector, which has a single continuous-feed sprocket placed above the two intermittent sprockets but without the second lower one described in Paul's complete specification. The projector is preserved at the Cinémathèque française in Paris, and although it is incomplete enough remains to indicate the features in question. Whether or not a second modification was subsequently made to incorporate two continuous-feed sprockets as indicated in the patent has not been established and it is a matter for conjecture whether indeed such a model was ever produced. [...] In the beginning, there were very few independant exhibitors of the Theatrograph. At most of the London theatres where the Theatrograph was operated, the performances were under the personal supervision of R. W. Paul, who supplied the projector and films at a certain fee. [...] The first independant exhibitor of Paul's Theatrograph was David Devant of the Egyptian Hall (19 March 1896). [...] The second independant exhibitor to acquire one of Paul's projectors was another famous magicien of the day named Carl Hertz - pseudonym of Louis Morgenstein. The story of how he practically snatched the machine from under Paul's nose is amusingly told in his autobiography, A Modern Mystery Merchant : "The cinematograph had lately been shown, for the first time in London, at the Polytechnic, by Trewey, formely a well-known juggler and a relative of the Lumières, who were one of the first makers of cinematograph machines. It was subsequently transferred to the Empire Theatre, where it was shown at matinees only. Shortly afterwards an English machine, made by a man named Paul, was exhibited at the Alhambra. At this time these were the only two types of machine on the market. It occured to me that it would be good speculation if I could get one of these machines to take to South Africa with me and introduce into my entertainment. I accordingly went to see Trewey, whom I knew very well, to try either to purchase or hire a machine, but he would not let me have one. So I went to see Paul, in the hope that he would prove more accomodating. Paul agreed to sell me a machine for £ 50, but said that he could not deliver it for two or three months. I told him that I was leaving for South Africa on the following Saturday - it was then Wednesday - and that I would like to take the machine with me. But he said that he only had two machines, and that these were on the stage at the Alhambra, where he was fulfilling a six months' engagment at £100 a week. I asked him whether he would not let me have one of these machines, to which he replied that was impossible, as he had to have a spare machine in readiness, in case the other got out of order. I offered him £ 80, but he would not listen to me, and I went away much disappointed. The next night I called to see him again, took him out to my club to supper and did all I could to induce him to sell me one of his machines. But it was no use ; he would not do so. However, on the Friday night, the night before I was to sail for South Africa, I determined to make a last attempt, and accordingly took him out to supper again and offered him £ 100 for one of his machines. He repeated, however, that he could not risk parting with one ; he must have a machine in reserve in case of accidents. Well, said I, you had better take me over to the Alhambra and explain to me the working of the machine and all about it, so that I shall understand how to use it when one is sent out to me. So we went back to the Alhambra, where he took me on to the stage and showed me the whole working of the machine - how to fix the films in and everything concerning it. We were there for over an hour, during which I kept on pressing him to let me have one of the machines. Finally, I said : - Look here ! I am going to take one of these machines with me now. With that, I took out £ 100 in notes, put them into his hand, got a screw-driver, and almost before he knew it, I had one of the machines unscrewed from the floor of the stage and on to a fourwheeler. The next day I sailed for South Africa on the Norman with the first cinematograph which had ever left England..." Much of this smacks of a typical showmanship anecdote, of course, but that the story is substantially true is borne out by the following, which appeared in the music-hall gossip column of The Era for Saturday, 28 March : "Mr Carl Hertz, who has just arrived from America, sails to-day on board the Norman with his contingent of artistes engaged by Messrs Hyman and Alexander for Johannesburg. Mr Hertz takes out with him an Animatographe, the invention of Mr R. W. Paul, of Hatton Garden, an apparatus for exhibiting Living Photographs similar to that now to be seen at the Alhambra". It has already been established that the projector Hertz took with him was Paul's second Theatrograph (Mark 1) and the notice in The Era just quoted thus confirms that the first of these models was ready for operation by 28 March. On the voyage out, Hertz gave a performance on board the SS Norman with his newly acquired Theatrograph, which was the first time that a film had been shown at sea. In Johannesburg he held a preview at the Empire Theatre of Varieties on 9 May, and two days later gave the first public screen performance of moving pictures ever to be held in South Africa. The films shown included the familiar Highland Dancers, Street Scenes in London, A Trilby Dance, A Military Parade, and the famous Soldier's Courtship. Hertz visited various places in South Africa and then went on to Australia. His Australian visit is mentioned in The Era for 31 October : "When Chirgwin gets to Melbourn he will be surprised to find that Carl Hertz has been showing him as an animated photograph - an excellent form of advertisement - to the Antipodeans. Mr Paul, the well-known inventor and pratical worker of animated photography has supplied Carl Hertz with the Chirgwin film"" (John Barnes, The Beginnings of the cinema in England, Londres, David & Charles, 1976, p. 19-56, 116-124).


Will Day, "An Early Chapter of Kinematograph History", Kinematograph Year Book, 1914, p. 43-48.

Will Day, Illustrated Catalogue of the Will Day Historical Collection, Londres, s.d., [1934], p. 21.

John Barnes, The Beginnings of the Cinema in England, Londres, David & Charles, 1976.