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Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2019 5:52 pm
by arrgee
gameswat wrote:these things have a lifespan of what must be up around 60,000 to 100,000 views
for paper that is impressive !OMFG!

Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:46 am
by bob
I have not previously contributed to this topic as I was interested to see what others might contribute describing their experiences. Gameswat has well described and illustrated the differences between the two reels available. A bit of personal history might provide some additional information of interest here.

The Mutoscope has been a particular interest of mine as it combines my two areas of interest; cinema and its history and coin op machines. Generally people interested in film history see the Mutoscope merely as flip cards in a box and look down on it for this reason. They rarely, if ever, appreciate that, as in a film projector, the cards, because of the shorter interleaved blank cards on the reel, perform in a fashion similar to a projector, where the image is on display for a longer period than it is not (analogous to that brought about by a Maltese cross, pull down claw, beater, or similar intermittent mechanism in a film projector). Also the forward curve of both the image and the interleaved cards create the rapid forward snap which causes the blur, which is analogous to the effect of a shutter on a film projector. People generally do not appreciate that the curve in the cards is put there originally for a purpose and is a forward curve rather than a backward curve, the result of constant use.

In the 1980s I serviced some machines including cranes, Mutoscopes, fortune tellers etc, located in a group of “Pancake Parlour” ‘theme’ restaurants in Melbourne. Some of these belonged to the restaurant owner who was a collector of antique mechanical machinery such as coffee grinders, time clocks etc., and some he leased from me. As I needed reels for the Mutoscopes I got in touch with John Reverand who was selling new and used Mutoscope reels which he was actually manufacturing himself.

John Reverand was a rather enterprising insurance salesman who had bought what was left of the original Mutoscope Company including some Mutoscopes (mostly the later, smaller, “tin” models) some reels, and the original equipment used to make the reels (dating from the 1890s) as well as the negatives of the films made by the International Mutoscope Company (successors to the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company) between 1926 and 1949. John Reverand operated the Mutoscopes in children’s shoe shops in New York and made the reels to supply the machines that he operated and later to sell to others including Disneyland who had a large number of Mutoscopes at the time being played almost continuously.

Mutoscope reels had also been available in those times from the Mike Munves Co, a large company dealing in mostly used and refurbished coin operated amusement machines of all types. Mike Munves also had the correct original machinery to make these reels but only made a batch of them twice a year which meant that they were not always available.

Consequently I got in touch with John Reverand and bought some reels and parts (gears and clutches) from him. I told him that I was doing research on the Mutoscope and Mutoscope Companies and was able to provide him with some historical material including patents etc. John also re-steamed reels which had lost their curve and consequently lost their “flick” and obscured a lot of the viewing area as Gameswat has written about above. I learnt from John how to steam reels to restore the curve. This is a complicated process as it involves steaming the reels, which if done for too long turns the cards to “mush” and baking the reels in an oven, which if done for too long makes the cards brittle and snap apart. If either is not done for long enough the forward curve and “snap” is not restored. A difficult process only learnt by quite a deal of trial and error. John Reverand had restored an early cast iron American Mutoscope for the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester for their Museum and consequently had secured a considerable supply of the very durable and snappy photographic “paper” especially made by them for the Mutoscope Company for the Mutoscope reel cards.

By the time we made our first trip to the US in 1993 John had retired to a house on a golf course and the Mutoscope business, “Old Time Movies” was being carried on by his son Tom. We met Tom in New York and he very kindly took us to the lovely old barn outside New Year where he made the Mutoscope reels. Tom showed me the still working, original 19th century equipment of the American Mutoscope Company, and allowed me to take photographs of it for my (still) forthcoming book dealing with the Mutoscope company. It was a truly magical, unforgettable experience for Beverly and myself.

Some years ago, when the reproduction reels now sold by Mutoscopeman on ebay first appeared, I was told that the cards were printed on a computer printer and consequently could not be curved as the printing would run when “steamed”. So, as Gameswat has written, the reels from Old Time Movies, made in the correct way on the original equipment with the original specification photographic cards, from the original negatives, does seem to be the way to go when looking for replacement reels for a Mutoscope.

Concerning coloured Mutoscope reels, to my knowledge there exists only one original hand coloured Mutoscope reel which coincidentally is located here in Australia. It is a reel of a French Can Can dance. This was part of the Holden collection which I have written about in another item on the Pennymachines forum and was an item in the first of the Leppington auctions. It was bought by an Australian coin collector friend of mine who still has it. I have seen it played and it is in quite reasonable condition for what would have been a very popular reel. The Netherlands Film Museum has this item on a short film reel, also hand coloured which can be readily seen on youtube on the web.

The youtube item shows the hand tinted film that the Netherlands Film Museum has of the Mutoscope can can film. I will attach a copy of a card from the hand tinted Mutoscope reel which is to my mind much more colourfully and attractively hand tinted.

Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 11:19 am
by brigham
VERY interesting.
I'll take a copy of the book, as soon as it is out.
In the meantime, can I ask you about Mutoscope negatives. I've always assumed that the camera side of things was unchanged, and that only the format of the prints differed, depending on whether for projection or Mutoscope display.
Am I right? Could Mutoscope versions be made of known early 'movies', directly from the negatives?

Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:59 pm
by john t peterson
Book, book, book! !!YIPPEE!! I've been waiting years, Bob and I'm not getting any younger. You and Larry will make a dynamite Mutoscope duo. Go for it!

J Peterson
Holding breath in America. |/XX\|

Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Posted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:44 am
by bob
Larry Bieza, who has done an enormous amount of research on the other coin op machines of the International Mutoscope Company as well as the Mutoscope is bringing out the book at some time in the future. It will include some of my material on the Mutoscope reel machines. My work on this ceased quite some years ago and he is carrying on the project.

The original Mutoscope camera had film with images the size of the Mutoscope reel cards. This size film was also used in projectors accommodating film of this size. The Company started shooting standard gauge 35 mm film in late 1901 and January 1902 (it was legal for the Mutoscope and Biograph Company to do so in March 1902) but went on shooting on 68mm films for the Mutoscope only as well as mixed and Biograph only.

The later International Mutoscope Company shot their own original films on 35mm for use on the Mutoscope and also bought the rights from other companies with well known film stars such as Charlie Chaplin and Tom Mix etc., for material to use on Mutoscope reels.

Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Posted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 10:55 pm
by pennymachines
bob wrote: Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:44 am ...but went on shooting on 68mm films for the Mutoscope only as well as mixed and Biograph only.
So those negatives would have been directly contact printed onto the card (without need for optics, and the slight loss of image quality that lenses introduce). Even allowing for the graininess of early film stocks and lower resolution camera lenses, a negative of that gauge would capture image data comparable to, if not better than, current digital consumer formats! Not that the Mutoscope's slight image magnification would exploit this.

Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 2:03 am
by sentimental salvage
I have a hand coloured mutoscope can can reel too.

Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Posted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 3:39 pm
by gameswat
I imagine it's the same reel mentioned above by Bob. Killer find!

Re: Reproduction Mutoscope reels?

Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 8:45 am
by sentimental salvage
Nah, I don’t think it's that one, I’ve had it a long time and I don't collect coins. 🤪