Pathé Baby





This was one of my earliest web pages and has long been in need of updating. I have now divided everything about Babies into a range of separate pages, leaving this page for just a few odd Babies and related stuff, and to guide you to the various Baby pages.


Babyearly         IMG 3109      


 Pathé introduced the Baby projector in 1922; this is an early publicity shot. It went on to develop a wide range of accessories, add-ons, attachments and gizmo's, plus a range of  attractively-packed ancillary items. It was the birth of the "gear" hobby in cine - the only way Pathé could continue to make money was to sell you more and more bits and  pieces, and you can see some of this paraphernalia on the Gear page. David Richardson has specialised in collecting and restoring all possible variants of the Baby and its  attachments, so I have set up a page just for his stuff - The Richardson Collection. Another avid collector is Willem Hackman. I recently had the opportunity to take pix of his collection of Babies, so I have given him his own page, too - The Hackman Collection. In the tradition of those old "Glamour" films is a "What the Butler Saw" version of a Baby. Other Baby-relevant pages are Baby Equipment, mainly concerned with equipment catalogues (but with a separate page on the Baby Printer), and Baby Film Catalogues, which does what it says on the tin. Before Pathescope Monthly was introduced, there was a series of leaflets initially called Baby Cine Chat.


You will also find information about Babies in Gerald McKee's Classic Home Movie Projectors. You will find under French Bits a series of articles about Pathé Baby films. For a late and rather odd successor to the Baby, see the Coq D'Or. And finally an attempt to cash in on the Baby name with a Pax-style projector in the 1950's.


shutter1     shutter2

As we all know, the biggest problem with Babies is the shutter distorting and breaking. Up to now, nerds have always believed that it was necessary to replace the shutter on a like-for-like basis, but I asked myself why? It's not visible, and if, as most do, the Baby has a motor, the flywheel effect is not needed. So I have invented the Stevens Patent Disc Shutter, aa shown above. This is a rough version, which don't got the various blades in exactly the right place, but it shows the idea.


Improving Light Output from a Baby


There have been quite a few expedients adopted to try to improve light output from the Pathé Baby projector. Better lamp, improved condenser lens and improved projection lens were the simple ones. Then came the extra bright lamphouse, with an altogether more powerful lamp and a much bigger condenser. There was even a water-jacketed version of this. One problem with all this is that, so far, no written instructions have come to hand, so the following may be subject to correction.


DSCF0002 4     Baby water-cooled     BigLH1     Baby Water_cooled \

First we see the basic enlarged lamphouse. It simply fits in place of the original lamphouse back cover, the extra weight being supported by a highly-sophisticated (not) bit of spring with a fitment on it to go over the knurled knob that secures the lamphouse top. Next is the water-cooled version, which is in two parts. The condenser is in the section with the water connectors showing; it seems to be this that is cooled rather than the lamp in the back section. Nor does it appear that the water flowed thru; it just sat there, so far as we can tell. There is no visible means of support here; there appears to have been a version with a sort of platform which fitted to the projector to act as a support, shown in the catalogue illustration. These three are all from the existing Richardson Collection page on this site.

The last picture here is from the site I was just going to put a link, but the link to the page with this pic was so long it seemed daft. There are plenty more pix to see on the site. But just look at that resistance! 

The problem with these, however, was that there was the obvious risk of burning the film when the mech stopped for a notch. The solution to this was found in the shape of an attachment that automatically dimmed the light at each notch. The best image of this we (ie David Richardson, who keeps finding these fascinating catalogue entries) have is quite poor, but for what it's worth, here it is, although it does at least tell us the lamp is 8v 3 amp. With imagination, one can also see the resistance is like the one in the Jérome Séydoux pic above.




The only logical solution to how this might be done had to involve the notching mechanism itself. Just in order to prove it could be done, I made a quick lash-up from odd bits. This actually cuts the circuit when the film is running; it would probably need to be the other way round in practice (ie make rather than break the circuit), but I had this little contact unit..... But you can imagine a circuit where breaking it at this point would force the power supply thru a dropper resistance and so achieve the desired effect. Incidentally, a pic 2m across with an audience of 100 is claimed.

If watts = volts x amps, 8v 4a is still only 24w! (And let's not forget the Lodex lamphouse, which seems to have a 50w lamp.)




The device is basically a plate which takes the place of the little cover over the slider for the notching mechanism. It is held in place by the original screw and by "wedging" up against the edge of the gate moulding. In this version, the paxolin block is free-floating, riding on the screw and held by the folded "bracket" formed from the base plate. The paxolin block has a groove for the notching lever, which also helps to hold it in place, and a tongue to separate the two contact strips when the film pushes the slider out of the side of the gate. It worked quite readily, so obviously it would be possible to control the power of the lamp like this. One might use a micro-switch, for example, instead of contacts, and maybe a relay at the transformer/resistance end to limit the current passing thru the switch arrangement.



Dave Richardson has found instructions showing how the operation of a bigger lamphouse for a PathBaby projector could give more light but still not burn the film. When I finally worked my way thru the French (of course) instructions, I was gratified to note that what we had conjectured earlier, when we had no detailed knowledge of the thing, was pretty accurate. As part of my normal service to benighted monoglots, I have translated the instructions for you and done a few extra pix to help. As in the lash-up I made some time ago, the device relies on the movement of the slider that enters the notches in the side of the film.


 scan 3a    Path-Baby     Path-Baby     Path-Baby     Path-Baby     Path-Baby


First, the actual document - very hard to scan to a decent quality, then a close-up view of the lamphouse. 3rd is the device itself, then a pic of a partially dismantled Baby notching mech to show the key parts involved. The slider, or notching actuator, slides freely in its slot on the rear face of the mech, but is held in place by the cover plate seen above it in pic 4. It has a slot which fits over the protruding end of the notching lever. The only reason I can think of for the existence of the spur on the end of the lever is to enable one to hold the notching slider back whilst inserting film into the gate.) These two vital parts are shown in close-up in pic 5. Finally, a plan  view (Pic 6) shows the lever in position on its pivot bolt and the torsion spring which drives the slider into the notch when one comes along.  This pic also shows the lip at the side of the mech casing which the Auto Voltage Dropper (AVD) uses to secure itself to the machine.) 

The little AVD unit is basically just a microswitch that uses the spur on the notching lever. (Given the small size of the torsion spring on the pivot bolt, the microswitch must be very sensitive and loosely sprung or there wouldn't be enuff force to operate it!). As the slider gets pushed back after a title, the spur pushes the switch pin to close, (or open, I am not sure which), a contact and Hey Presto!

Anyway, here are the (freely) translated instructions, which refer to the images in pic 1 above (I have done a translation of one part in pic 3).

<< The SUPERLITE, i.e. the MOLLIER AUTOMATIC VOLTAGE DROPPER fitted to the Pathé Baby projector, comprises a mechanism that increases the lamp voltage for normal projection and reduces the voltage for still frames. In this way, the film cannot be damaged by heat when the projector automatically stops for titles. This mechanism allows the use, without any risk, of a lamp that is far more powerful than normal, and permits high-brightness pictures up to 2m wide with the standard lens and 2.5 meters with the Hermagis lens.

Thanks to the Superlite, all owners of the Baby Camera can readily show their own films, which are often far denser in tone than commercial printed films and the projector can be used for meetings, societies and clubs since a screen image 2.5m wide can cater for an audience of 100. This is particularly valuable in the education sphere where use of the Baby Projector was hitherto difficult because of the small picture size.


The Superlite comprises three main components.

1 the Lamphouse; 2 the Automatic Voltage Dropper (AVD); 3 the Resistance.

Fitting is very straightforward and can be carried out, even by a child, in a few moments without any change to the machine or drilling any holes.

Heres how to install the Superlite:


After removing the rear of the Baby Projector lamphouse, remove the condenser lens by pushing it towards you. Fit the Superlite lamphouse by sliding it onto the remaining front part of the original lamphouse. Push home firmly and tighten the locking screw. Place the cap on the end of the spring attached to the Superlite over the knurled knob on top of the projector.


The AVD unit (D) houses a small switch mechanism to close an electrical circuit in response to the movement of the notching device when it is triggered by a notch in the film. To fit the unit to the projector, loosen the two screws 5 mounted on the clamp 1 and place the unit over the lip 2 of the projector, so that the small lever 3 (also A) just touches the spur 4 (also B) of the notching device. Now re-tighten the screws to hold the unit firmly in place.


Once the lamphouse and AVD unit are in place, ensure that the cursor 10 is pushed against its stop 11 (this stop should never be moved). Attach the plug 6 on the lead from the lamphouse to the socket 9 of the resistance and the socket 7 from the AVD unit to the plug 8 of the resistance.

The apparatus is now ready for use.

Thread the film, connect the resistance mains plug to a light socket and crank the projector handle without stopping until the end of the film.

To stop the projector at any desired place in the film, return the cursor 10 of the resistance to Its lowest setting, so as to reduce the lamp voltage, as the automatic mechanism only works when the projector stops at a notch in the film.

To check the operation of the system, leave the projector gate open and push the pin 13 of the notching device with your finger; you should see the light level increase then fall back once more when the pin 13 is released. >>


I have been thinking about the practical implications and ramifications of all this. On the face of it, this seems to be at least as good an idea as having a heat shutter come into play, as in the Bolex DA, and it could in principle be applied to any machine if you could find a way of connecting something to the notching mech - and with modern electronics that should surely be possible. One possible downside is the heat from the lamp. As you will all have seen, when a lamp is switched off there are a few moments of fade before the light - and presumably the radiated heat - are gone. With just a reduction in voltage, there might well be enough carry-over of heat to cause problems, so there may be limits on what can be done on machines that don't have the heat filter, quite apart from the problem of cooling a more powerful lamp. However, I would guess that it would enable a Lux to operate with one of the higher power lamps like the S and leave the titles safe.

My Bolex PA has been converted to 900' arms and a 15v 150w dichroic mirror lamp. I found at first that the titles did in fact start to buckle, despite the heat filter, and I had to "de-focus" the lamp a bit. Now if I fitted a switching mech like the AVD to work alongside the heat filter, I could really go to town on the lighting........ Then all I need is an automatic mech to restart the machine after titles. And a more powerful fan.


I have developed a lampholder for Babies, which does not require any alteration to the machine. Click on the link for details.





  Path-Baby      Path-Baby


These are some close-up views of a sound Baby. It is, I believe, the one written up in ACW after the war, although further modified. The real guts of it are in that copper-coloured thing in front of the former take-up chamber. The film emerges from the gate, makes a very tight and peculiar loop and runs under a flap on top of the copper thing, where the track is read.



 The rest of the gubbins is about trying to smooth the pull thru of the film. When I saw it, the owner had mislaid the instructions and I don't think it was running right.  Nonetheless, it produced sound and, what was remarkable, the mechanism ran like a sewing machine, purring along quietly. I don't suppose it is very kind to films, but it  does show how good the original basic mech must have been. You ask why on earth should anyone want to do it. You might just as well ask why men climb mountains. And  as a piece of cine history and a simply beautiful-looking piece of engineering, it is worthy of any true nerd's attention. 

How's about this for the answer to the nerd's prayer? Sprockets for the sprocketless! I wonder why it never caught on? 



bigLHbaby1a     bigLHbaby2a     bigLHbaby3a     BabyVoltmeter


Here are some pix of a strange baby. Someone seems to have made a very pro job of fitting a giant lamphouse, with a chrome back that seems to have been specially made, as it has a rim. But it's very shallow, the socket on the back points outward and the whole thing seems to have failed actually to achieve anything. (Memo to self; consider fitting vertical Xenon lamp.) Last pic is unconnected - a plug-in voltmeter labelled PathBaby, courtesy Colin Loffler.

How's about a Giant Baby? Spotted on French eBay by Dave Richardson. It seems to be a prototype that never went further. It also has a special lamphouse with bigger condenser and more powerful lamp; this was an attachment available for the normal-size Baby.

GiantBaby1    thumb GiantBaby2      thumb GiantBaby3     GiantBaby4     GiantBaby5


Lodex Lamphouse

Lodex1     Lodex2     Lodex3     Lodex4     Lodexad


There were more conventional ways of getting more light. Lodex seemed to specialise in add-on bits; their Baby lamphouse used a 10v 5 amp lamp (I have seen exciter lamps of this description). A small mechanical fan was driven by a belt from a doubled-up pulley on the main drive shaft. I passed one on to The Hackman Collection.


I have a number of decrepit Babies and add-ons. Here are the results of a re-spray of the worst bits. The lamphouse is sprayed with heat-resisting paint - the reason these are nearly always rusty is heat damage to the original paint. The other parts are sprayed with smooth Hammerite, covering parts as necessary with masking tape.

paint1     paint2      

I had a slightly bizarre set of issues with a Baby I was working on for a friend. I had seen this machine before, but it now had new problems. Only one film would go through - all others just sat in the gate. The mech was stiff, and only ran at all with the motor on max. As ever, the diagnosis is largely a matter of trial and error. Oil first, obviously, but it wasn't that. Then a washer at the front end of the shutter shaft to ensure the claw was emerging far enough, but it wasn't that. After much fruitless effort, I put it aside for a few hours. Returning to it later, I suddenly recalled something I had heard about the vital importance of a washer at the cam end of the shutter shaft. I had tended to regard this as something of an "old nerd's tale", but thought it was worth a try, and it worked.

During the earlier fruitless efforts, the motor had suddenly stopped responding to the speed control. so I took the bottom cover off the motor unit. One of the resistance fixing nuts, which connected to the resistance wire, had worked loose, and had moved along its thread to contact one of the incoming wires, so that was easy to fix. Finally, and this is where it gets a bit bizarre, I noticed that one of the nuts at the back of the motor was loose. This was on one of the threaded rods that serve to hold the motor together. As I was fixing this, I noticed that the motor steadily but quite distinctly speeded up as I tightened the nut, all the way to the point where I was reluctant to tighten further for fear of doing harm. There was little or no effect from tightening the other similar nut. I cannot even begin to understand what that is about - any ideas, please?


Now another odd variant on the Baby theme. Ignore the Meccano (TM) pulley, tho' as it was fitted by grinding down the diameter of the shaft it means I shall have to strip the entire thing to replace. It looks to have too much engineering to be just an amateur lash-up - look at that guide pulley for the lower arm - but I have not seen its like before. There seems to be no provision for a brake of any kind, which I would have thought meant the take-up chewed up the film. The motor, incidentally, is 240v, so I don't know how the electrics would have worked either. In the end, I decided to pass it to The Hackman Collection.


BabyPS1     BabyPS2     BabyPS3     BabyPS4


Now find out where you've been going wrong all these years.


instr1    instr2    instr3    instr4    instr5    instr6    instr7    instr8    instr9    instr10


Baby In A Box 

This appeared on eBay. altho' v. professional-looking, it does not seem to have been an official or commercial product, just the fruits of a someone deciding to do it and

do it well.


Path-Baby     Path-Baby     Path-Baby     Path-Baby     Path-Baby  


Hackman Collection




Bob Andrews, Mikael Barnard and I visited Willem Hackman to view and photograph his collection of Babies. Most of the following pictures are Mikael's, tho' I have photo-shopped them.

We start with that rarest of beasts, the Pathé Baby Printer. It has something of an air of being cobbled together - note two separate cylindrical resistances in the base - but, on the other hand, the base itself seems pukka. I wonder if one could make one from old Baby bits........

Hack01     Hack02     Hack03     Hack04


We now move on to Dynamo models, starting with a very rare version mounted directly on a special base, rather than added on later. The size of the bracing for the rear-mounted model give some idea of the level of cranking effort needed to get a high enough speed for power generation - it must have needed a lot of holding down. Maybe the side-mounted version was more stable.

Hack05     Hack06     Hack07     Hack08     Hack9     Hack10     Hack11


The rest of the projectors are in a series of images in largely random order and with repetitions, I suspect - I don't know enough to sort them all out and label them. Shall have to go to the horse's mouth if we can both spare the time.

hack12     hack13     hack14     hack15     hack16     hack17     hack18

 hack19     hack20     hack21     hack23a     hack23b     Hack24     Hack25


 hack26     hack26a     hack27     hack28     hack29     hack30     hack31

 hack32     hack33     hack34     hack35     hack36     hack37     hack38     hack39     hack40      hack41


This last section I do know a bit about. The first one is just a part of a continuous loop mechanism. Second is a type or resistance I have never seen before. Some of the Pathex material is, of course, very rare, but we see many Pathex-branded items in the UK. I believe the Pathex brand was also used in Germany, but I don't know why so much Pathex appears here. The  actual American Pathex (pic 3 below, pix 1&2 the next row) is vanishingly rare. The history of Pathex 9.5 in the US was brief, but in that time it produced and saw marketed sound versions of the Baby, which never reached the UK or, I suspect, le Continong, and I have never actually heard of one - has anyone ever had a sighting?

hack42     hack43     hack44     hack45     hack46     hack47     hack48     hack49


 hack50     hack51     hack52     hack53     hack54     hack55       hack56







Richardson Collection




David Richardson is a collector who has decided to focus - on Babies. This enables him to keep space requirements under control (some hope in my case!) and to develop much greater depth of knowledge and detail than the more flibbertigibbet butterflies such as me. If they could find anyone to do the questions, he could go on Masternerd. He occasionally has a slight fall from grace, (see Toys) but overall seems to have remarkable willpower. He has now sent me so many pix I thought he deserved a page of his own.

We start with a guide to spotting the Model A. Stuff in quotes is from Dave himself.

"I thought for anybody that may be interested I would point out the main points of a Model A Pathé Baby as people get confused.

The main identifying points are as follows:-

Smaller Mirror compared to next Model ( Picture 1),

Smaller projection nozzle ( Picture 2)

Lamp house reflector comes off complete with bulb holder and wiring (Picture 3).

Next Model - only reflector comes off (Picture 4)"

r001     r002     r002a     r003

Next, some splendid pix of Babies with unusual attachments, for which many thanks - these are superb.

r004     r005     r006     r007

Reading from left to right, we have the Enlarger attachment for making frame blow-ups, a continuous projection attachment, a French patent lamphouse of unknown manufacture and a French-style machine with Souplex super attachments and motor.

r008     r009     r010     r011

Here we have the not-wholly-unknown rear-mounted dynamo, and one I've never heard of, a side-mounted dynamo with its own special mat. Next is a close-up of the Souplex motor and its friction brake and last, a front-mounted "R" motor, fitted with the optional flywheel for smoother running and its own special resistor, which I'd also never heard of. David promises more pix, too.

And here they are:-


This is a Model A Baby fitted to a wooden base, with the Rotor type B motor fitted in front of the projector.




r012     r013     r014     r015     r016     r017

This is a Model A Fitted on a board with Rotor type B motor, but rear-mounted. David believes this was a later model, but both by the same manufacturer as the fittings are identical, and that the changed position of the motor was to allow for the fitting of Super arms. The "before" pic above shows just how good David is at this restoration business. The black resistance adjusts motor speed, the other control is to switch on the room light after projection. David says:-

"In the early days, if you were lucky enough to have electricity, each room would probably only have one ceiling light, which was used for plugging in both a light bulb and any other electrical gizmo you had, in this case a Pathé Baby projector. The problem being that, after projecting a film, one had to fumble about in dim light maybe from the hall light and, after finding the hall door and falling over the cat, unplug the projector and plug the light bulb back in. This problem was addressed by Pathé through the two-way switch "for conveniently lighting the room between projections; merely pressing the pear shaped switch changes over the illumination from the projector to the room lamp; another press and the lighting is reversed back to the projector lamp". The owner of the projector in these pictures has added his own home-made two-way switch; with the lever on the wooden box to centre, both lights are off; to the right, projector on, main light off, to the left, main light on, projector off. The base, motor, projector fixings and resistance I believe to be professionally made as I have seen one other the same."

r018     r019     r020     r021     r023

These show a water-cooled condenser head. David again:-

"This has two nipples, as can be seen in the picture. I assume these are inlet and outlet and that they were connected to the mains water by rubber pipes. There is also a bleed screw at the top. I believe the lamp was 12 volt 60 watt. If anyone has any more infoon this head I would appreciate it." He has since found another, complete with the controller/transformer, giving 12,14 or 16 volt output for the lamp (pic 5).


And this is more stuff about the water-cooled condenser set-up. It seems to have been made by a company called Mollier, and come in two versions. First was a new lamphouse to give a brighter light from a new lamp and condenser lens, tho' the voltage and wattage of the lamp seem a bit unclear. The second or "Super" version had the water-cooled jacket. Partly because it's not always clear from my knowledge or not of technical French, and partly because all we have to work on is an extract from a French equivalent of a Wallace Heaton Blue Book, everything else is less than clear, too. The text seems to imply that there is an automatic voltage reduction for still frames, to prevent heat damage to the film. However, looking at the pic shows no way this could happen and Dave can't see how either, despite having got one of them. We shall have to find more info. Note the support bracket in the catalogue.

r025      r026

These show an amazing attachment with the Rotor type B motor and variable resistance as a single unit for easy fitting to any basic Pathé Baby.


r027     r028     r029     r030     r031

Pathé Baby with unusual resistance listed in 1926 French catalogue.




r032     r033     r034     r035

Pathé Baby fitted with redressing mirror, to throw pictures on screen at right angles (as listed in 1930 catalogue). The reversed pic might not have worried some, particularly if titles were few, but it was no doubt also used for back projection.


r036     r037      r038     r039

Model C Dynamo (as listed in Pathescope catalogues 1929-30); the main difference from Model D is that the model C has a plug-type output, as shown in the second pic. The model D has two screw-type outputs, as per 3rd pic. The Instructions are for a side-mounted dynamo.

Now some motor details. In order these are an early "B" type; the later "B" type; the 1922 "R" type; early "S" type from 1926; 1928 French "S" type; 1928 "S" type; 1929 "S"; the "C" type from 1930. The three pix on the second row show how the semi-automatic speed control worked; when the motor tried to speed up at a notch (mech stopped, therefore no load), the inner weights shown in the second of these pix would tend to fly out, so increasing braking force.

r040     r041    r042     r043     r044     r045     r046     r047     r048     r049     r050 

Some random motor instructions.

r051     r052

He has loads of bits for Babies, too:-

r053     r054     r054a     r055     r056

French version of two way switch (the switch is made out of a multicoloured bakelite material) and its pic from the 1926 Catalogue and an entry from Cinéma Chez Soi No. 90, then English version and 1938 Catalogue pic.

r057     r058     r059

These are English variants of the two-way switch; the Catalogue is 1926, the pictures are the earlier and later types respectively.

The American market took a completely different approach to motorisingtheir Pathé Baby's, although they where still made in France. They were first introduced to America in December 1925, under the trade name of Pathex. (An editorial comment here. I have sometimes wondered quite why there seems to be so much Pathex material in the UK, most notably spools and some Baby bits. Did Pathé plan a huge sales push which fizzled, leaving them with huge stocks? I suppose there is an answer in Kermabon or whatever, but company history bores me - has anyone done the work?)

r060     r061     r062     r063     r064     r065     r066     r067

The first three are David's earliest American machine, a Model D with motor speed via a slider on the added resistance block. The next two are also a Model D projector, but with speed control by a potentiometer/resistance with rotary knob. The  last three are close-ups to show detail of the motor mounting and the spring with which pressure of the motor roller on the shutter can be adjusted.

These pix below are a Model G machine, with a later motor version. Note that, altho' there is a slit in the side for the American motor, the decal on the side is Pathé.

r068     r069

Yet more bits.

r070     r071     r071a

The first two are the Pathescope Super condenser, alleged to allow more light thru, tho' I am not clear what is the physics behind this claim. I've cheated a bit on the blurb by mocking up an English-only version; I saw no reason to tidy up a load of foreign stuff to give you the whole thing. The third pic show an add-on version of the rack and pinion focussing, to replace the rather trickier lever mech of early machines.

Baby Enlarger Attachment

I've never see even a photo of one of these before, just adverts. Dave R has done a splendid job in showing exactly what it is and how it works. The idea is you put some photo-sensitive film in the big end, to copy whatever frame you have in the gate. Exposure must have been trial and error.

r072     r073     r074      r075       r075a   

 r076     r077     r078     r080

Baby Magnifier Attachment

This was supposed to approx double the size of the projected picture. What it must have done to the brightness, tho'.......

r081     r082     r083     r084

This apparently does the same job as the cone-shaped PathMagnifier lens. The third pic shows a Pathexor Krauss lens, one of two better-quality lenses available for the Baby, the fourth another, the Hermagis.

r085     r086       r087     r088

r089     r090     r091     r092     r093     r094

Another splendid series of pix from Dave Richardson, tho' I admit they are not projectors. There are some good pix of a motorised attachment for the Baby Camera under Gear.

Below are of miniature titling outfits designed to attach to the front of a Baby camera or a Motocamera, the latter having 2 different size kits. Not quite sure whether the last pic is the same thing as the others but, hey!

r095     r096     r097

r098     r099     r100     r101     r102     r103

Why did anyone ever need anything else?











On a visit to Paris, circa 2009, I came across a type of machine I had never met before, a 9.5 version of the pier-head "What the Butler Saw" machine.


Butler01     Butler01a     Butler01b

I have to say from the start that, if that pic is really meant to encourage the punter gawdelpus! (All these pictures were taken in the back of a hatchback, the machine having already been sold and on its way out, so I was lucky to be able to snap some pix. I have done my best to remove unwanted background.) And no, that label on the can does not mean what you think. What the right-hand picture does not show is that the lamp resistance, removed from under the machine, is fixed to the front of the cabinet just below the screen. The general crudity of the whole thing suggests local entrepreneurs knocking up a few for their own use.


Butler02     Butler03     Butler04


This shows the basic set-up. The Baby has been fitted with a special short-throw lens and tilted well back, to show the picture onto the rear wall of the cabinet. The film is in a continuous loop, feeding from the centre and back to the outside of the roll of film. The guidance of the film is very crude (and if you ever saw a Baby with a slot cut in the front of the film chamber, this may be why). A coin activated timer switches on lamp and motor, for a pre-set time, presumably adjustable by the dial bottom left of the first pic.

The story does not end here, however. They did it again, but with a Kid.

Butler05     Butler06     Butler07

In fact, these are two different machines from the Cinémathèque Française equipment stacks, the second machine being the third pic, showing a view as from the screen. It seems there are no lengths to which some men will not go for a bit of titillation, or to make money out of it.

Some years later I had the opportunity to take pictures of a similar machine in the shop of Alain Gomet; here are a few pix. The pic on the machine looks a bit better than the one above.


Butler08     Butler09     Butler10     Butler11