Grahame N's Web Pages


by Grahame Newnham B.Sc. MIEE

Whilst the Japanese Elmo cine camera / projector name became well known in the 1970s or so with quality 8mm and 16mm equipment, I was unaware of any products from the 1930s until reading Harold B. Abbott's little green hard back book published by The Amateur Photographer magazine - "The Complete 9.5mm Cinematographer". In the section on 9.5mm cine projectors a 500 watt lamp Elmo machine is described. Further research shows that the machine is mentioned in the May 1934 and January 1935 copies of the Home Movie and Home Talkie magazine and is the subject of a brief review in the February 1935 Amateur Cine World magazine.

9.5mm Elmo cine projector

The first mention of this 9.5mm Elmo cine projector in the May 1934 HMHT magazine includes the photograph above. This must have been a prototype or the initial model - the switches appear to be chrome type knobs and there is no sign of the pilot lamp fitted at the top of the later machine, although it is mentioned in the write-up. . It is described on page 476 of that magazine issue as having a 75 volt 500 watt lamp with indirect illumination. It mentions variable speeds, tilting mechanism, a single combined feed and take-up sprocket, with special features including a dimmer controlled room light socket, ammeter for lamp currrent, pilot light, single lubrication point and provision for still pictures. Pleasing finish in crystalline lacquer and chromium. Judging by the photograph it was designed for up to 400ft spools.

In the January 1935 issue of HMHT magazine, the Elmo projector is mentioned again and a newer photograph is included. Here is it illustrated from the rear and the switches are now black bakelite? and the top mounted pilot light is fitted. The rear view shows the lamp ammeter and a hand rewind is visible on the top (feed) spool arm. The magazine mentions that a number of improvements have been made and the machine is now available in both 9.5mm and 16mm models.

Mk 2 9.5mm Elmo cine projector

Additional information is that the spool arms fold for storage and it is a twin claw machine. The projection lamp is now described as 150 volt 500 watt controlled by a side mounted dropper resistance, making the machine suitable for 200 to 250 volts AC or DC. The UK distributor is mentioned as Abbott Brothers of 303 Thorold Road, Ilford, UK, with a price tag of thirty guineas complete with carrying case. Now Harold Abbott wrote regular articles in the Amateur Cine World magazine and wrote "The Complete 9.5mm Cinematographer" book - so it is hardly surprising that he mentions the Elmo projector he is distributing in his book!

Mk 2 Elmo projector (from "The Complete 9.5mm Cinematographer")

Not a lot more information is added, but rewinding could be by hand or motor by swopping belts. A version for 110 to 130 volts was also available. The machine was fitted with a 2 inch lens as standard. As well as the non-automatic still picture device a framing lever was also provided. The film gate could be moved an inch or so away from the rear section, allowing for access for cleaning. The brilliance of the image was considered suitable for halls etc.

So finally we have the Amateur Cine World February 1935 review of the Elmo cine projector. Not a lot more information, but we learn it is now available in 8mm, 9.5mm and 16mm versions. The 500 watt lamp is described as a 'bi-plane' design, the motor is a 'universal' - probably series wound. In addition to the standard 2 inch lens, there are also 1.5 inch and 2.5 inch lenses available to order. Price is quoted as £31.10sh.

Mk2 Elmo - Amateur Cine World Feb1935

Obviously the machine didn't sell - no doubt its price and lack of major importer put dealers and public off (the 9.5mm Pathéscope 200B was £15 at the time - half the price and with a massive dealer network and after sales service). But naturally if you have one sitting at home - I would love details and a photo - why not sell it to me? So as usual - any further information would be appreciated.

Mk 2 Elmo - Amateur Cine World Feb1935

(©Grahame L. Newnham - 26Jan2015)

Glancing through some copies of the Home Movies & Home Talkies monthly 1930s cine magazine (looking for something entirely different!) I spotted this advertisement in the December 1937 edition. Another attempt to market an Elmo projector in the UK - this time just the 16mm model and a modified design - still a 500 watt lamp, but now directly behind the gate - no more 'indirect lighting'. One can see that detachable pilot lamp and it retains the table lamp dimmer. But rather a high price of £47-10sh-0d

However in the issue dated June 1938 there is a small advertisement from Cinema Traders Ltd (same address) - "9 only - brand new 16mm projectors .... (same specification) - due to cancellation of contract, being offered at £25 each nett." - so they didn't sell, and - £25 is rather better value than the £47-10sh-0d price advertised previously!

What it does mean though is that there must have been perhaps ten of this later 16mm design Elmo cine projector in the UK - so where are they now .............

(©Grahame L. Newnham - 28Jan2015)

Check out a brief history of the Elmo company on Wikipedia

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Created 26Jan2015 .......... Last updated: 28 January 2015 ........... 95gearelmo.htm ............ ©MMXV Grahame Newnham's Web Pages
28Jan2015 - later 16mm Elmo projector added