From the Vault: Early Cinematography

While researching a question from a faculty member about the Mutoscope (the trade name of an early motion picture machine) I discovered a little trove of books on cinematography down in the Greenfield Vault.**

One of the most interesting illustrations in Practical Cinematography and Its Applications by Frederick A. Talbot (London: Heineman, 1913) is this picture showing “How to Take Moving-Pictures of Wild Animals in Safety”:

Another photo in the book shows the cow closed up:

Another interesting book is Motion Picture Handbook: A Guide for Managers and Operators of Motion Picture Theatres by F. H. Richardson (NY: Moving Picture World, 1910). Interesting not just for its technical advice, it includes ads in the back of the book from Bausch & Lomb, Pathe, Lubin, and the Edison Manufacturing Company.

The view into the Vault. Vault books are on the left, and back issues of periodicals are on the right.

**What is the Greenfield Vault? The Vault is an area in the Greenfield basement where certain books were relocated in order to make room for the open seating area. Books sent to the Vault had not been checked out in ten years or more but that we wanted to keep. Books in the Vault can be checked out; you just have to go downstairs to get them.

Below is the Mutoscope, an early “peep show” camera, as reproduced in Beginnings of the Biograph: The Story of the Invention of the Mutoscope and the Biograph and their Supplying Camera by Gordon Hendricks (NY: Beginnings of the American Film, 1964). To learn more, consult the Encyclopedia of Early Cinema.

Earliest known version of the Mutoscope, from the April 17, 1897, issue of Scientific American.

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