Ever since I can remember I collected “things,”all kind of “things”.
My father, Spero, was a master watchmaker and jeweler and he had every kind of tool; everything from antique to modern, needed and not needed, to ply his profession. Most of his tools are still in our house in Kalamata, Greece. I cannot part with them. They serve no useful purpose packed in boxes. Yet they are still there.
My Mother, Chrysoula, was the same way. She saved most everything that came to her. Everything from books, 78 rpm records, old tools, kitchen and household apparatus to keys and locks. I loved buying old things to give my mother to add to her unusual collection. Above all she liked to collect and nurture plants, all kinds, from common to exotic. She had a green thumb; everything she touched grew and flourished.
My wife, Irlanda, is a collector as well. She loves collecting books, furniture, art, and whatever may suit her fancy at the time. This has been very fortunate for me as I so often hear from men, “Oh, I can’t buy this, my wife wont let me bring it in the house.” How sad!
In May 5,1997, my good friend, Hally Haight Sr., whose family was the first to settle in what is now Naperville, here in Illinois, told me, “I bet you don’t have a movie theatre projector.” I replied that I did not. He told me that a friend of his had recently acquired such an item and wanted to sell it right away. I immediately went to see it. It was a disaster, but it attracted me. I bought it for $50.00, took it home and proceeded to remove the rust and to clean it up. I immediately started doing research on what at the time was an unusual “thing” in my possession. I soon tracked down two projectionists, Paul Dorobialski and Don Hegelson, whose help made it possible to return this Simplex projector (serial number 1050) to full functionality.
I have since then met and corresponded with many others who collect these odd movie machines and have found them to be the nicest people in the world. All have been helpful in adding to my knowledge in this very specialized field.
Through my bidding on ebay I had the good fortune to meet George Panagiotides who has the finest collection of old telegraphy and antique electric devices from the dawn of that era in Greece. He found and bought for me the oldest known Greek made projector, the 35mm Greek made film cutter & viewer, other cinematic, electronic and scientific devices. I also met George Kordelakos who has the finest collection of odd size film devices in Greece. And among my Greek friends I cannot forget Niko Theodosiou who is the foremost authority on the history of the Greek movie industry. I also wish to thank Mr. Christos Riganas, a great sculptor for his gift of the Cinenechanica projector.
Through ebay I had the good fortune to correspond with Allan Osborne of Australia, who has beyond doubt the finest collection of this nation’s cinematic machines, many being unique. His collection is surely a national treasure that is unrecognized in Australia.
Here, in the Chicago area, we are very fortunate to have the Carey Williams collection of movie projectors and movie cameras, which is without doubt the largest and best collection on the planet, a collection without peer, in private hands and possibly better than most cinematic equipment museums. Carey’s knowledge and archives have been of primary importance in my research on movie projectors. His willingness to help has no limits. Through Carey I had the privilege of meeting the erudite George Hall, the curator of the “Silent Museum” in Tucson, Arizona, who has encouraged and helped in my research in this field, particularly with the Animatoscope.
I have also had the honor of corresponding with John Barnes, author of the monumental five volume work, “The Beginnings of the Cinema in England 1894-1901”, who has vindicated my belief that the Warwick Bioscope in my collection is, indeed, part of the batch of the very first 50 Bioscopes made in New York City.
I also wish to thank Ray Phillips, author of Edison’s Kinetoscope and its films – A History to 1896 dealing with the “peephole” Kinetoscope. Until recently, he had one of the very few peephole Kinetoscopes in private hands which he has used as a guide to manufacture faithful reproductions of this most highly important machine. His machines are in museums and private collections. He was kind to send me a complete list of where he sold these machines which are listed in my book on Kinematic Peephole Machines.
I also cannot forget to thank Martin Koerber, of the Potsdam Film Museum, who, along with Dietmar Linke, spent their valuable time identifying the specific model number of my prized Messter Thaumatograph. I also had the good fortune in corresponding with Christian Ilgner, who is no longer with us, and who sent me valuable information on Peephole machines.
I have met and corresponded with many others in this field, from collectors to Museum curators and wish to thank all of them for taking the time to help me answer my questions on cinematic machinery in general and in identifying some of the projectors in my collection in particular.
In the following pages you will view my collection of some common, rare, and unique cinematic equipment. I have tried to describe them as accurately as possible. I am sure there are many errors and omissions, and they are all mine. Your help will be greatly appreciated if you would write me pointing out such errors and or omissions.
May 29, 2008