Jackman Pathe
Ca. 1909

Now on to the camera.

This is a Pathe, top end, professional camera with an early tripod. It has been scratch tested and will shoot film today. Pathe cameras were the zenith, the Rolls Royce of movie cameras in their day. Pathe cameras shot more movies before World War I than any other two makes of cameras combined. All of D.W. Griffith’s movies with Billy Bitzer as the cameraman were shot with a Pathe.

The lens is clean and clear with no fungus or element separation. It is a Carl Zeiss Jena  Tessar f=4cm (40mm) F3.5 Number 541201. The iris is smooth and easy to move throughout its entire range. As with all movie cameras that had a long career this lens is an upgrade from an original Pathe camera lens.

The serial number is 970. This makes the camera’s manufacture date well before January 1914. I would venture a guess at a date of 1908-09. Pathe Brothers were at 14 Rue Favart, Paris. There is a fine restaurant, Les Noces de Jeannette, at this address today.

Happily, both glass tubes, with their bubbles, are intact in the spirit level. The spirit level is on the top of the camera next to the two square magazines.

One magazine has a white circle center on the door. This is so you can write scene numbers and footage numbers on the mag. The white centers look like paper thin plastic but seeing as plastic hadn’t been invented I think they are made from cellulous. The other mag is missing the white center. It is easily replaced and I chose to let the magazine be like it is. It’s not important, just a choice.

Here are a couple of close-ups of the interior gate and pressure plate area. The camera is quite clean inside.

The side finder is more like a sport finder. It has no optics. There is a small hole in the front that makes it a viewing tube. It gives the camera a nice look to have a side finder on it.

This is quite an unusual Pathe camera. It is so very rare to own a camera made before 1914 still in such fine condition. It’s even more rare to have identifiable pictures of any camera in association with such motion picture icons.

Let’s take a tour around the camera on the ‘Photo’ page