L.A. Camera

With the identity tag on the front and the large logo on the side of the camera I really knew this wasn’t a Williamson camera. Proving it was easy. After seeing the interior parts and realizing they were the same as a Williamson/Darling but built stronger with some changes for durability I knew this was really a Frese camera from the Patent War period of the motion picture industry.

George Mitchell actually started his career taking a good camera and making it better. He carried that position all through his camera manufacturing life. The Leonard camera design was George Mitchell’s crowning glory. The Mitchell camera.

The serial number on this Frese camera is 6 9 0. I know they could never have made six hundred cameras. Many camera makers used the date of manufacture. I believe this camera is numbered by the date June 9, 1910.

This is an after the lens special effects iris. While cranking the camera the cameraman would iris down to frame an actress and direct the audience’s attention to that one place on the film. It could also be used to iris open at the start of a scene, something like a fade up, and of course to iris down something like a fade out. External irises are so very rare as most were lost in the past hundred years or so.

There is a magazine/accessory case with the camera. I have rarely seen a case survive nearly a hundred years and still be with the camera. There are two extra magazines and a drive spring in the case. It has the LACC logo on it also.

This is a Post Card used as advertising for the Frese optical company. The copyright date is 1906.


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