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pennymachines
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Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Postby pennymachines » Sat Feb 02, 2019 6:52 pm

Currently there seem to be two sources of reproduction Mutoscope reels: OldTimeMovies.org ($900 each) and MutoscopeMan.com (prices not listed). I wonder if anyone here has purchased from either and could comment on quality. As I understand it, an important factor is the base on which the images are printed needs to be sufficiently elastic and hard wearing to stand up to repeated flipping, such that it resists becoming permanently bent.

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Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Postby gameswat » Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:47 am

Big difference here! Old Time Movies is owned by Tom Reverand, his father John Reverand purchased the original Mutoscope Reel company in the US in the 1950's. So Tom uses the original factory machinery, negatives and processes to make his reels. The Mutoscope Man reels I think use some kind of digital printing process. The major difference is his reels are not steamed, while Tom Reverand does steam and curve his reels. The steaming is very important to complete the finished reel, that gives all the pages a curl which helps with the snap flip action, but most of all allows for an open viewing area. I'm sure everyone has viewed a Muto at some time with worn original reels that has previous cards blocking the view because they have lost most of that curvature over time.

Weird I wrote captions for both attached photos but only the second one shows? Photo on the left showing Mutoscope Man repro reel with no curvature to reel at all!
muto reel repro.jpg
Mutoscope Man repro reel with totally flat cards!
muto reel repro.jpg (27.82 KiB) Viewed 387 times
muto reel reverand.jpg
Old Time Movies reel showing card curvature as original.

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Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Postby pennymachines » Sun Feb 03, 2019 1:02 pm

Thank you Gameswat - that was a most helpful and informative reply. !THUMBS!

I did note that Tom Reverand uses the original factory machinery and processes to make his reels, but his site does not explain the final part of the process and, as you say, that part is critical. In view of this, perhaps $900 is not unreasonable. I see three attractions to buying a reproduction reel: it's crisp, new and undamaged, giving a better viewing experience; there's more choice of content (instead of being restricted to whatever old reel you can hunt down or which came with your machine); the machine can be enjoyed without inflicting further damage on original reels.
gameswat wrote:
Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:47 am
I'm sure everyone has viewed a Muto at some time with worn original reels that has previous cards blocking the view because they have lost most of that curvature over time.
I have one just like that. For the first quarter of the reel you only see half a picture.

Another question that occurred to me yesterday. Were any colour mutoscope reels ever made?
gameswat wrote:
Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:47 am
Weird I wrote captions for both attached photos but only the second one shows?
Yes, I've noticed that bug, but haven't tried to squash it yet...

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Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Postby gameswat » Sun Feb 03, 2019 1:28 pm

pennymachines wrote:
Sun Feb 03, 2019 1:02 pm
Another question that occurred to me yesterday. Were any colour mutoscope reels ever made?
Bob Klepner is the expert on Mutoscopes and he told me decades ago about the only known colour reel that happens to survive in Aust. It's an early Can-Can dance totally hand tinted! Being an early example I think it has the higher cards count that was used to begin with, then later they realised around 800 was ample. I guess there could be several theories to its existence, most likely made as a low production trade show piece by Mutoscope, or for a World's Fair display say? Or maybe even specially ordered by a high end location like the Moulin Rouge since it's a Can-Can. Has always intrigued me that it's the only known version. So I was in contact with Tom Reverend years ago and we talked about how I could replicate my own colour version. He sent me sample cards to experiment painting with but I never went much further with it. I was going to choose an exciting reel that would be worthy of colourisation. Tom doesn't have every negative Mutoscope ever made but quite a lot.

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Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Postby gameswat » Sun Feb 03, 2019 1:44 pm

It's been a while since I spoke with Tom but we also talked about making a custom reel from my own footage. And he's done that for people before. I guess it can get expensive unless you already have a negative to work from.

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Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Postby john t peterson » Sun Feb 03, 2019 1:50 pm

Let me guess. "Gameswat's Adventures on the Half-Pipe" ?? Would it include the crash scenes?

J Peterson
Para-Medic, USA

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Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Postby gameswat » Sun Feb 03, 2019 2:25 pm

john t peterson wrote:
Sun Feb 03, 2019 1:50 pm
Gameswat's Adventures on the Half-Pipe
Half-pipe....................? Fool Pipe!

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Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Postby pennymachines » Sun Feb 03, 2019 4:45 pm

gameswat wrote:
Sun Feb 03, 2019 1:44 pm
It's been a while since I spoke with Tom but we also talked about making a custom reel from my own footage. And he's done that for people before. I guess it can get expensive unless you already have a negative to work from.
I thought I'd read on his website that you could do this by supplying a digital movie file. Maybe you could, but I realize now why I thought that - I'd also been looking at a website which advertises repro phonograph cylinders: VulcanRecord.com, run by Duncan Miller, in Sheffield, England. He offers custom work from MP3, WAV, etc files. He also has a large catalogue of off-the-shelf cylinders from a very reasonable £16 each. I love the way these ancient, but once ubiquitous, consumer media formats still persist in some form, thanks to a few dedicated individuals.


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Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Postby arrgee » Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:12 am

Interesting, so if Tom Reverand uses the original factory machinery and processes together with the original negatives to make his reels, these are not reproductions but original replacements, albeit made today.

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Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Postby gameswat » Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:23 pm

Yes exactly Argee. And considering what some of the old weathered reels can sell for, a brand spanking new example is a real bargain. Even when not well looked after these things have a lifespan of what must be up around 60,000 to 100,000 views!


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