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These little viewers tend to turn up at French cine fairs - the last one I saw around 2001 was on offer at around 100. I get the impression that French cine dealers are just selling the odd one to keep the price high! It appears a large batch of these (maybe 80 or so) turned up in a warehouse somewhere in Europe in the late 1950's. Hence although they would appear to date from the 1930's, many examples appear almost mint. (It could be that a small batch was just made to sell to collectors!!)

The 9.5mm Micro Cine viewer in my collection is contained in a cardboard box about 2 inches by 4 inches. The card box is coloured black on the outside with 'Micro Cine' printed on the top and one side of the lid. Other examples are packed in a light colour box labelled Micro Cine and 'Swiss Made'. The actual device is contained in a black steel 'tin' box, the same size as the outer cardboard box. (Other examples seem to have this case sprayed red or leatherette coated). Opening the lid reveals a few loose parts like the little lens, a bakelite eye cup and the drive handle. With the lid removed the 9.5mm film (in the pre-war 30ft closed spool) is placed in the top, and the film threaded through the gate. The little lever (P/R) can be held in the 'R' (rewind) position to hold the gate away from the driving mechanism whilst the film is threaded through the gate and out onto the floor!

The lens is inserted in front of the gate with the eye cup attached. The metal lid can be replaced - then with the little lever in the 'P' (project) position, the handle can be placed on the centre drive spigot and rotated to view the moving pictures! Film drive is by a geneva movement, gear driven with a simple flywheel to smooth film movement. There is no shutter. The whole mechanism is assembled on brass plates with brass gears and geneva movement. The construction is similar to a clock.

At the end of the film (the 9.5mm film remains fixed to the centre of the closed spool), the little lever is moved to 'R' (rewind) and is rewound back into the closed spool by moving the handle to the top drive dog.

No doubt the Micro Cine was designed for viewing 9.5mm 30ft lengths of amateur movies returned from processing. There should also be a tiny lamp holder which fits behind the gate and connects via the little cable to the bulb holder of a torch to enable crude projection of the image, but this is missing from the example in my collection. (Thanks Trevor A. for this extra information!).

An interesting point is that the little plated drive handle incorporates a pulley. Was this intended for an attachment for spools perhaps? If so were these attachments ever produced?

French cine collectors suggest that this little curio was made in Switzerland, confirmed by the text on the earlier? light colour boxed ones. This suggests the Paillard company perhaps - particularly as they took over the Bols production which had included in the 1920's a small 35mm cine camera / viewer which has similarities to this Micro Cine device. However I have no proof of this - there are no markings on the mechanism or the little lens. Unfortunately I have no instruction sheet with my example - it appears that none of the 'new' warehouse batch had instructions in the box. Naturally if anyone can help with this, or other information I would be most grateful.

Grahame L. Newnham - 16Feb2004/updated 16Mar2004/updated 17Apr2004.

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Last updated: 31 December 2014 ....................... 95gearmicro.htm .................. Grahame Newnham's web pages