9.5 USA


Pathe 35mm Model 1909

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Many years prior to the introduction of 9.5mm Pathex items in the USA, Pathe Freres was a major power in the American market. Below we show a high-quality 35mm projection outfit, made in France, yet labeled "New York". It cost $225 in 1909. That was nearly the cost of a Ford Model A.

There are no Edison patent markings anywhere, so this was sold before the cartel was formed. I believe this is the "Professional Model" from 1909. It cranks easily and smoothly. One turn of the crank equals 16 frames -- so the projectionist cranks one turn each second.

Silent movies were filmed at 16 frames per second. Sound films use 24 frames per second -- that is why silent movies look overly animated when run on modern equipment. A full 1000-foot reel (the early silent movie  standard) cranked properly would go for about 16.7 minutes. A showing might be five reels, but to increase audience turnover, over-cranking was common.

Pathe Outfit:         Pathe Catalogs:
  Model 1909 Projector            New York (circa 1908)
  Stereopticon Support Assy.            1909 French (100 pages)
  Upper Magazine           
  Lower Magazine          Non-Pathe Parts:
  Lamp House w/ slide holder            Stereopticon Lens
  Four Extra Lens ( 5 total )            Stereopticon Holder
  Double-Pole Switch and Cover   Powers Arc Lamp Assembly
Twelve photos and some additional commentary follow.
The lamp house slides sideways to send its light through the movie projector or the side Stereopticon lens used to project glass slides ("coming attractions", songs, advertising, etc.). This Pathe projector has its original side arm and rod for the Stereopticon lens to slide along (for focusing), but the Stereopticon lens and its hanger are from Bausch & Lomb (USA).

There are four extra lens (French) for the movie projector that you can see near the bottom of the photo. These are used to change the size of the picture to match the size of the screen and the length of the theater. The Stereopticon lens has long sliding range, so one size fits all.

Framing is done by loosening the black knob and rotating the brass handle about the circular brass plate. The plate is engraved Pathe Freres at its top and 5283 New York near its bottom. I once had another of these whose serial was 5268, and know a fellow that owns another with a close number. Maybe Pathe started numbering at 5001 to enhance their apparent market share.
When cranking speed reaches a safe level, the automatic fire shutter lifts up and lets the light pass through the moving film. In the USA, New York City was the first to require this safety feature along with fire-proof film magazines (rather than exposed reels of acetate film). BOOM
Here the two gates are opened. This is how you thread the film. The projector is very presentable -- a beauty. These close-ups seem to over accentuate its patina. This is a very high quality piece -- the drilled hole in the flywheel is probably for balancing.
Here are the US and French catalogs. The US catalog measures 7 1/2" by 9" and has 20 pages inside. The 1909 French catalog measures 7 1/2" by 10 1/2" and has 100 pages inside. You would be amazed at how much different cinema equipment Pathe made.  
Next is an inside shot of the French catalog -- a "portable" power supply (generator). It looks like a primitive one-cylinder engine with a generator and switchboard.
Next is an inside shot of the US catalog. The general set-up is similar to the components shown here, but looks like the French catalog's 1908 Professional Model. The gearing on the crank side is different. A knowledgeable party told me that mine is a 1909 model -- let me know what you think.

The right-hand page below is titled "The Pathe Professional". I have the switch and cover located immediately under the mounting board, but not the large resistance unit sitting on the floor. The outfit included about 10 feet of heavy asbestos-covered wire that I snipped and threw out. Historic is historic, but why push our luck.

Here are the film magazines. They are considerably heavier than Cameragraph units. I have not attempted to clean them up -- they are in much better condition than most original equipment you find. That is only dust and fingerprints on the upper magazine (right), I haven't yet cleaned it.
Next is the flip side of the magazines. Imagine cranking 1,000 feet from one to the other. I asked an elderly projectionist how long it took to change reels. He said a couple of minutes. I asked why the audience didn't complain -- not anticipating the obvious answer that no one knew anything different. You watched 15 minutes of a film, had a break with some glass slides, watched another 15 minutes, etc.  
Below is a the Pathe lamp house. It is huge and I did not un-box it for the photo. The wood below it is some sort of elbow rest for the projectionist. The controls sticking out of the back are for a large Powers carbon arc lamp unit inside this Pathe lamp house. The arc unit is in nice shape and its
controls move freely. There are heavy glass condenser lens in the front of the lamphouse between the large box and the slot where the glass slide holder would be inserted (right behind the snout). These focused the intense light from the arc lamp.

The catalogs show the arc units sold separately -- they were a maintenance item to be replaced periodically -- 90 years ago someone made a decision to replace these with a Powers unit.

The cast iron bracket at the bottom of the lamp house is for the rods that allow the lamp to be slid back and forth between the movie projector and its slide lens attachment. Note the hole -- the Ising glass and its bracket are in the box somewhere. The hole allowed the projectionist to watch the tips of the carbon rods and their spark gap. The carbon rods were slowly eaten up -- every 30 minutes or so you had to make an adjustment using the rear knobs. I have a box of new rods, but not the nerve to try them.

Here is the glass slide holder for the lamp house. You move it from side-to-side when showing "coming attractions" or song slides. The holder is made of metal rather than wood (as with magic lantern slide projectors) because of the intense heat from the arc lamp.
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