Antique Movie Cameras
Antique movie cameras are collectible items from the dawning of the film era. They range from the very big and bulky movie cameras to the smaller hand-held ones eventually introduced for home use. Collectors of antique movie cameras often acquire them for use and therefore finding cameras in workable condition is important.
Brief History and Description
The first movie cameras were made of wooden boxes into which 35mm film was fed. They were entirely manual, with a little winder on the side that the user was meant to crank in order to feed the film through the camera. One hundred feet of film usually converted to about a minute and a half worth of footage at 16 frames per second.
Movie cameras were eventually produced for home use in 1896 and the first 16mm cameras were introduced during the 1920s. Colour film entered the market in the 1930s, setting off another boom for both film and home movie enthusiasts. Between 1945 and 1960, 8mm movie cameras became the norm until eventually video and digital cameras replaced them.
Guide For Collectors
Antique movie cameras are wide-ranging in price so it is important to educate yourself in the various models and makes. Use this information to discern the value of items before making your purchase. You can search collectors’ sites like The Internet Directory of Camera Collectors and Collectors Weekly to learn more.
A price comparison is necessary when researching antique movie cameras. You can check various websites like eBay for this information but be sure to have the make and model or even the serial number of the camera you are investigating. This will give you an idea of what you can expect to pay.
Remember that the condition of the camera greatly influences the price as well and if you are looking for a workable antique movie camera, then it is best to check the mechanism before making your purchase. Make sure that there is no rust or wear and tear that will render the machine unworkable.
You can check thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales and antique stores for vintage movie cameras. Using the internet is probably the easiest way to find something that suits your taste and budget though. Checking with various auction houses will more likely produce the best results in your search for an antique movie camera.
Notable Auction Sales
A rare cinematographic Gaumont/Demeny camera circa 1897/98 sold for £91,500 in September, 2000. The auction house was Sotheby’s at London. The camera was a 35mm, with a light wood case and workable hand-crank.
An exceptionally rare Friese-Green Prestwich cinematographic camera was sold by Sotheby’s at London during September of 2000 for £75,000. The camera was dated to 1896, hand-made while the patent was still pending and is among the very first movie cameras to be made available to the general public.
An antique camera labeled Chronophotographe no.1 was sold in London by Christie’s for £58,750 in May, 2000. It had a wood casing with black metal fittings and worked with a hand-crank.
Christie’s also sold a Kinematographic camera in London during November of 2000 for £10,810. It had a leather-covered wood casing and is one of very few 35mm antique movie cameras in a private collection.
A cinematographic camera dating back to the late 1890s/early 1900s was sold by Christie’s in London during October of 2001. It was a 35mm Alfred Darling signature brass-bound mahogany case with a hand-crank and sold for £7,638.
In October, 2001, Christie’s sold a cinematographic camera circa 1910 for £5,879 in London. It was a leather covered wooden case with its original hand-crank still in working order.