Bell & Howell "Filmo 57" Motion-Picture Projector, circa 1928

Summary

New innovations in film developing and camera design in the first decades of the 20th century made it easier for average Americans to become amateur filmmakers. Bell & Howell marketed a portable motion picture camera in the early 1920s to many well-to-do hobbyists. They also manufactured this Filmo 57 projector that let home movie enthusiasts view their personal cinematic creations.

New innovations in film developing and camera design in the first decades of the 20th century made it easier for average Americans to become amateur filmmakers. Bell & Howell marketed a portable motion picture camera in the early 1920s to many well-to-do hobbyists. They also manufactured this Filmo 57 projector that let home movie enthusiasts view their personal cinematic creations.

Bell & Howell was incorporated in 1907 by Donald Bell, a movie projectionist from northern Illinois, and Albert Howell, a film projector inventor. In its early years, the Chicago-based company manufactured motion picture equipment along with leasing and repairing cameras and projectors. In 1912, Bell & Howell began manufacturing a 35mm motion picture camera for professional cinematography. It would become the most popular camera of its kind in the early days of US studio filmmaking.

Over the next several decades, Bell & Howell would also create several highly-successful products geared toward the amateur filmmaker. In 1923, it came out with a 16mm movie camera, the Filmo model 70. This lightweight, single lens camera was the first spring motor driven 16mm camera. At the same time, the company developed a portable motion picture projector (also using the model name Filmo). Well-to-do hobbyists could now capture personal moments on film and show them in their own home.

Bell & Howell made this Filmo 57 projector available in 1928.

Detailed Description
Artifact

Motion picture projector

Date Made

circa 1928

Location

Not on exhibit to the public.

Object ID

79.19.2

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Material

Metal
Wood (Plant Material)

Color

Black (Color)

Dimensions

Height: 14 in

Width: 7.25 in

Length: 10.25 in

Inscriptions

On projector: Serial No. 184964/Bell & Howell Co. Chicago/Filmo/Projector 57. List of patent numbers on side. Plaque on box: Made in U.S.A. by/Bell & Howell/Chicago/Patent Applied.

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