Slide announcing the screening of Daughters of the Night (US 1924), which deserves some sort of prize for selling a mundane subject (telephone operator) with a tempting title. From the George Eastman House collection
I’m going to revisit the subjects of a few of the earliest Bioscope posts, way back in 2007 when the reading figures were not high and consequently resources were highlighted which may have been missed by many. Also the writing was more sparse in those days; now we wax lyrical.
So, first up is George Eastman House’s Pre-Cinema Project. GEH has published relatively small samples from its vast photographic collections, as and when it digitises them, presenting them collectively as a ‘digital image sampler’. The Photography Collection Online site, of which Pre-Cinema Project is a part, could not be more plainly presented, but what it lacks in web design it more than makes up for in richness of content.
Slide accompanying the multi-media entertainment The Photo-Drama of Creation (1914), from the George Eastman House collection
The Pre-Cinema Project itself is dedicated to ‘Images of media and devices used before motion picture film’, though in fact there is more there than pre-cinema images. You will find a fine selection of magic lantern images, including photographs of lanterns, magic lantern slides, toy lantern slides, a Muybridge Zoopraxiscope disk, slip slides, paper silhouette slides, and the dauntingly-named megalethoscope slides. There are children’s tales, travelogues, and slides depicting Shakespeare’s plays. But what you wouldn’t know about from the pre-cinema name is the sub-collection of movie-related lantern slides: slides used in film shows, including announcement of forthcoming attractions, song slides, slides from the multimedia Christian show The Photo-drama of Creation, and slides passing on messages to the audience. Unfortunately none comes with any catalogue data, and it doesn’t look like the collection has been added to since 2007.
Early cameras and projectors from the George Eastman House collection
It’s well worth checking other parts of Photography Collection Online for material related to cinema: for instance, lantern slides, stereo views, selected cine cameras and especially Coming Attraction slides – a large collection of slides advertising forthcoming films.
More recently George Eastman House has added a new image licensing section to its site, which has more of interest to us. It makes available images which can be licensed for educational use and scholarly research, publishing, advertising and so on. The ‘thumbnails’ provided are somewhat larger than thumbnails, making this a handy research resource in itself, and among the collections is Turconi Frame Clippings, a collection of two- or three-frame clipping from early films made by the Italian archivist Davide Turconi. They are a mixture of French, Italian and unidentified. As well as being beautiful in their own right, they provide a good opportunity for looking up close at perforations, frame-lines, edge lettering, and so forth.
Frame clippings from Au Pays de l’Or (Pathé 1908)
This is just a small sample from the substantial and important Turconi collection of up to 20,000 clippings covering films 1905-1915, many of them hand-coloured, which is undergoing preservation in a joint programme between George Eastman House, the Cineteca del Friuli, and the Giornate del Cinema Muto. Most come originally from the collection of films collected by Swiss priest Joseph Joye which was discovered by Turconi and is now held by the BFI National Archive. More information on the project can be found here.