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John Clark

Bell & Howell 2709 Name

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Does anyone know the origins of the 2709 name or designation? I want to say that I've read somewhere, that the name originated from it being the 27th design iteration for the year 1909. This would seem to make sense given the Model A's introduction in 1910, but I can neither locate or confirm this.


Also, can anyone recommend a supplier for internal parts for the 2709?


Thanks Again for everyone's time!



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Sorry I didn't see this earlier. You can call me (757)525-1658. There are a couple of places to get spares but they are few and far between. Sam Dodge makes some stuff out of his machine shop. Richard Bennett at Cinemagear.com restores some stuff. Those are the only 2 people I would send you to. What exactly are you needing? I have a working 2709 and used it recently. I'm working with Bodine Electrical Co right now to get a motor made for mine as orig. motors are pretty beat up and expensive. Regards. Fergus O'Doherty (2709 #289)

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Many people have wondered what the meaning of the figure 2709 could be in relation to the Bell & Howell Standard Cinematograph Camera. These are the stairs down to the truth, for it doesn’t lie open under the sun but in the dark, yet attainable.


Why, what?


Here you are: there’s the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure within the patent law of the U. S. A. and therein Chapter 2700 to which we have subchapters 2702 through 2709 forming a reserve.


Bert Howell had nothing to do with film machinery before 1905. Motion pictures had been around then for ten years already. An industry had been developed before he met Donald Bell. The pulse at which the fresh Bell & Howell Company launched amazing products is simply perplexing. From 1907 on came a rotary framing device for the Kinedrome projector of Amet, an intermittent film perforator, a camera for 35-mm. film, a continuous motion-picture film printer, and the 2709 camera.


Neither Howell nor Bell had an idea of what was known and in use in Europe, film-wise. Their connection with it all was George K. Spoor. It was Spoor who financed the serial fabrication of the Amet projector back in 1895. It was Spoor who purchased the first eight of the so-called Black Box Bell & Howell cameras in 1909. The first 2709 camera went to Essanay in 1912, the third to the New York Motion Picture Co. in the fall of 1912. Eastman seems to have acquired Bell & Howell perforators from 1910 on.


There is so much expertise built into these machines. It’s all but impossible that one mechanical engineer, Howell, should have invented, drawn, assembled, adjusted, improved, and proposed to the trade what is known as the still unbeaten products that made Hollywood big. Where were the machinists of B. & H., who contacted foundries, who established the know-how of grinding the punches for the perforator?


The bearing surfaces of the slide, the housing, and the wedge of each Bell & Howell perforator are scraped. The whole apparatus, I own one, is not a thing that’s developed within a year from scratch. About 20 years of perforating practice had lived in it when they began manufacturing the serial machine. 20 years back from 1908? Well, Le Prince speaks of perforation in his 1886 patent. The 1888 camera does not have any means for perforated bands. But that doesn’t preclude the existence of an according device. Le Prince can have left incomplete or imperfect constructions intentionally. The real things came into being through the little company he might have held 500 Dollar of. He stayed covered.


The full 17 years of patent protection on the Lumière-Carpentier claw drive cams have been waited before Bell & Howell Co. went selling the first 2709 because it has drive cams for the movement. Again 17 years elapsed, the Vinik patent on a mirrored shutter from 1917 to 1934, before the first industrially made reflex movie camera was published, and another 17 years went by from then until the ARRIFLEX 16 was presented. Patents speak louder than words.

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