Grahame N's Web Pages


LAPIERRE - FRENCH CINE
EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURER

by Grahame L. Newnham B.Sc.


HISTORY

In the UK, when one thinks of French 9.5mm equipment (if anyone does think of 9.5mm or even movies nowadays!), the name that immediately springs to mind is Pathé S.C.I. or Pathéscope as the UK subsidiary and later, agent, came to be called. It seems that until the demise of Pathescope (Great Britain) Ltd in 1960, little attempt had been made to import other French 9.5mm cine items into the UK. Specialist dealers in the 1960s did then import a selection of items from France, but naturally production had all but stopped as 9.5mm popularity waned. One company that produced a selection of cheaper 9.5mm projectors in France, both before and after the 2nd World War, was Lapierre. Its products are rare in the UK though.

Living in Paris in 1843, was a French tinsmith named Auguste Lapierre. The craze for magic lantern shows had swept France, fuelled by the magic "Phantasmagoria" shows, first staged some years earlier in Paris by a Belgian Etienne Gaspard Robert (Robertson). The ticket price for a "Galente Show" (Italian for fine) was around an average week's wages. Auguste Lapierre was too poor to take his children to the local magic lantern show, so he made his own, his simple design using an old can and lit by a candle was well received by his and his friends' children.

Lapierre's basic model magic lantern was just a tin box, containing a holder for a candle and fitted with a concave mirror and lens. Coloured glass slide strips completed the outfit. By 1880 Lapierre had a factory producing a range of tin-plate and bronze magic lanterns, thousands of which found their way into middle class English boys' Christmas stockings. The Lapierre company (later to trade as Lapierre-Cinema) had arrived!


A Lapierre Magic Lantern outfit


CINE PROJECTORS

Lapierre seemed to produce a massive range of cine projectors - they presumably had quite small production runs of each machine. Sorry that some of my details are a bit sketchy. Most of the earlier Lapierre 9.5mm cine projectors used a geneva film movement, similar to that used on 35mm machines (often known as 'maltese cross') - the slow film pull down, the rather small aperture lenses used, and indirect lighting via a mirror, meant that the resultant picture was non too bright. Little more than toys they were probably sold mostly through toy shops, as there is little or no mention in French cine magazines of the time. The earlier Lapierre machines were not imported into the UK. All Lapierre / Cine BR 9.5mm projectors were manufactured in France. Most later models were also supplied in 8mm versions.


Lapierre model C 9.5mm cine projector

Lapierre model C 9.5mm cine projector - probably an earlier machine as it only takes the 9.5mm Pathe 30 foot and 60 foot cassettes which were discontinued at the end of the 1930s. Hand-turned and with the geneva type film movement much of the body parts are made from the dreaded mazak casting material and this example is beginning to disintegrate! The lamp fitting seems to be for a normal mains voltage household lamp with indirect lighting to the film gate. There is a long sprung release lever, so it may have been designed to stop on the special notched titles used on earlier 9.5mm Pathé film releases - investigation continues!


Lapierre model J1 9.5mm cine projector

Lapierre-Cinema J1 9.5mm cine projector - quite a simple model, made of pressed steel (black mottled gold finish), with a wooden base. The hand-turned mechanism (handle in photo is not original) uses a geneva intermittent motion with spring loaded rollers for film feed and take-up. It has spool arms for up to 400 foot (120 metre) 9.5mm spools. The projection lamp is the 55 volt 0.6 amp (33 watts) type with large bayonet cap fed directly from the mains via the mains lead cum dropper resistance (this design was often used on cheap American radio sets - don't replace or shorten the mains cable!!). I have originally dated this as around 1955 probably because of the type of lamp used, but the French instruction sheet has a reference "Edition E-49" at the top which may indicate 1949?


On the French advertising matter for the model RL52-B (see below), it mentions that it differs from the old model RL50. So I'm guessing that the number 50 probably refers to the date - 1950 - but currrently I have no information on this Lapierre model RL50 9.5mm cine projector.

Lapierre model RL52-B 9.5mm cine projector

The French leaflet mentions that the 1953 model RL52-B is available as hand-turned (as per the illustration) or motorised (the motor fits on the front of the machine at the bottom. The leaflet mentions a new type maltese cross (geneva) film movement (the film is driven by an intermittent sprocket just below the gate), chromed film gate and a 30mm focal length lens. 400 foot / 120 metre spool capacity. An internal dropper resistance suits for 110-130 volts feeding the odd 55 volt 0.6 amp (33 watt) large bayonet cap lamp. An external dropper resistance was supplied for 230 volt operation. (The motorised version was only available for 110-130 volt operation).


Lapierre model RL52C 9.5mm cine projector

Lapierre RL52C 9.5mm cine projector - pressed steel with geneva film movement, sprung roller film feed and take-up, with up to 400 foot (120 metre) spool capacity. Available as motor driven or hand-drive. The larger base neatly houses the motor and speed control. Maybe around 1955.


Lapierre L60 9.5mm projector - 1955 on?

Lapierre L60 9.5mm cine projector - much the same as the J1, but with a larger pressed metal base which has room for a motor drive, presumably offered at a higher prrice (the basic model was hand-turned). Again a geneva type film movement, sprung film rollers for suppply and take-up with up to 400 foot (120 metre) spool capacity. This was advertised by D.M. Bentley in the UK, hand tuurned, at £7.18.6d, with 8mm conversion parts at £5.4.6d extra, in 1962! It was described as having 70 watt (mains voltage) indirect lighting and 36mm focal length lens.


Lapierre L70 9.5mm projector - 1958 on?

Lapierre L70 9.5mm projector - a more modern pressed steel horizontal layout, still with the same geneva film movement and sprung roller feed and take-up with up to 400 foot (120 metre) 9.5mm spool capacity. Indirect lighting was from a mains voltage type A1/21 (B15/s base, 100 watt lamp). f2.8 lens with 19mm barrel. Motor driven it could be internally adjusted for 110 or 230 volt mains supply as France was just beginning a major change from 110 volt to 230 volt mains supply during the mid 1950s. A similar model L100 had interchangeable mechanisms for 8mm or 9.5mm. The Lapierre L70 was listed in the Amateur Cine World (UK) magazine 8mm projector review - issue dated October 18th 1962 - imported by Apparatus and Instrument Co., the UK price then was just under £15. It was described as somewhere between serious toy and conventional machine.

Lapierre L100 9.5mm / 8mm projector


Lapierre A80 9.5mm projector

Lapierre A80 9.5mm cine projector - another simple pressed steel machine, using the same geneva film movement, hand-turned with spring loaded rollers for film feed and take-up and up to 400 foot (120 metre ) spools. Presumably sold sometime during the 1950s.


Lapierre Cine BR 9.5mm cine projector - first version?

Lapierre Cine BR type B2 9.5mm cine projector - launched around 1958; the name Lapierre had been dropped from the name plate with just Cine BR shown. Similar in style to the L70 with horizontal pressed steel body, this model had 100 watt indirect mains lighting, using a type A1/21 B15/s base lamp (same as the Noris Junior), induction motor drive with a crude mechanical variable speed control, plus a single sprocket for film feed and take-up, taking up to 400 foot (120 metre) spools - a slightly better 33mm focal length lens, (still 19mm barrel diameter) and quicker pull-down from a conventional claw film movement, meant that brighter pictures up to two or three feet wide were possible.

The 'new' Cine BR 9.5mm cine projector appeared around 1960 and was soon imported at a bargain price to the UK by enthusiastic 9.5mm dealer Larry Pearce. Mechanically similar to the earlier Cine BR type B2 shown just above, this model had a wooden case, toggle switches and larger lens and speed control knob. By the mid 1960s the Cine BR Lum model was fitted with a 12 volt 100 watt lamp for improved light output. The Cine BR extra Lum had a fast rewind and maybe a larger aperture lens. I have yet to see examples of these last models to see the exact improvements. A good number of the Cine BR 'new type' were sold in the UK I think, but I'm still looking for one, for my collection.


Another Cine BR - model B2, but maybe an earlier fixed speed version?


FILM RELEASES

Lapierre-Cinema also issued 9.5mm printed films in France, both in the 1930s and again in the 1950s. My lists are quite limited, but I do have a couple of 100 foot (30 metre) Mimiche cartoons in my collection - I think at least four of these were issued. A French collector thinks they may have been specially drawn, but it's more likely they were originally made for French TV. Seems the Mimiche cartoons were drawn by one or more of the Frenkel brothers (Hershel, Salomon and David) who were animation pioneers in Egypt. One or more brothers moved to France after World War 11 and this Mimiche series appeared for home movies. The Lapierre 9.5mm printed film lists are now on this web-site in the 9.5mm printed film catalogues section.


CINE ACCESSORIES

Lapierre also supplied a film winder, splicer and projection screens, probably all in the 1930s - more information required please!

1920s or very early 1930s wooden film splicer

 

(The history section of this article originally appeared the Summer 1993 edition of the Group 9.5 magazine)


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Created 22 July 2009 .... Last updated: 27 February 2017 .... 95gearlap.htm .... ©Grahame L. Newnham MM1X
03Aug2009 Different CineBR model B2 and Lapierre model C photos.
13Aug2009 Extra data for Lapierre L70
06Sept2011 Extra details for Lapierre L60 added. 08Jul2014 Models RL50 & RL52-B added
27jan2015 - extra Mimiche info added.. / 27Feb2017 - tidying and extra Cine BR photos added