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Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 21:56:28 +0100 (BST)

19 May 2000

Dear Tom Jennings:

Didier Volckaert's working note (No. 47.3) inspires me to add a bit of new information that did not appear in Dead Media Note No. 23.7 about the Anschuetz Schnellseher, or Tachyscope as it is frequently called in English.

There were seven models of the electrical Schnellseher made by the eminent photographer Ottomar Anschuetz, originally from Lissa in the Prussian province of Posen between 1887 and 1894. All worked on the same principle: a disk held a series of photographic tranparencies around its outer rim and spun continuously; contacts on the disk initiated an intermittently illuminated Geissler tube behind the images at the viewing port, by setting off a low-voltage circuit to a Ruhmkorff coil which then sent a high-voltage charge to the lamp. A milk-glass sheet at the viewing port diffused the light evenly across the image. The transparencies were made by a 12-part, later 24-part camera using an innovative focal-plane shutter designed by Anschuetz that was in production in his own still cameras and in Goerz hand cameras until the mid-1920s. The transparencies on the picture-disks were originally glass, and later (after c. 1892) celluloid.

The Anschuetz Schnellseher was intended as an instrument for both education and entertainment, and was seen very widely in public, with demonstrations or exhibitions in Berlin, New York City, Frankfurt am Main, Wiesbaden, Dresden, (all 1888); and later in Brussels, Boston (USA), Philadelphia, Vienna, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Paris, London, Chicago, Stockholm, Lisbon, Hamburg, Lubeck, and many other cities. The Schnellseher was in virtually cintinuous exhibition in Berlin, from 1887, and was installed throughout the grounds of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago from May, 1893. In several cities, the automat Schnellseher made from 1891 by Siemens & Halske was installed in "Schnellseher Parlors", to use terminology taken from the later Kinetoscope Parlors of Thomas Edison, including in Berlin, London, New York City, and Boston. In New York City, Schnellsehers were installed at both Koster & Bial's Music Hall and at the Eden Musee from 1892.

Attendance figures for some of these exhibitions survive. The Schnellseher was seen by 15,000 people at the Berlin Exhibition Park between July 18 and August 25, 1891. In Hamburg, at the Italian Exhibition, 30 automat Schnellsehers were viewed by 56,645 people between May 11 and October 13, 1895. In Lubeck, 12 Schnellsehers were seen by 10, 152 people in July and August of the same year. An exhibitor traveled with a Schnellseher throughout Cuba and Central American until 1901.

Briefly, the Schnellseher models were:

Model 1: Prototype or Experimental Schnellseher. Autumn, 1887. A simple tabletop model demonstrated for the family, and which established the working principles of Anschuetz's disk apparatus. . Model 2: Freestanding Schnellseher, mounted on a tall iron base with a disk holding 24 images 150 cm in diameter. 1887. Exhibited both in Europe and North American. Called the Electrotachyscope in America, This is visually the best-known Anschtz Schnellseher, as an illustration from Scientific American has been widely reproduced in the literature.

Model 3: Improved Freestanding Schnellseher. 1889. On a different stand, lighter in weight and more easily transportable. Intended to be seen, as the model above, by small groups of people standing in a darkened room on one side of a wall, into which a hole had been cut, with the apparatus on the other side of the wall.

Model 4: Drum Schnellseher. 1890. The rarest of all the publicly demonstrated Schnellsehers, probably only one example made. In this model, transparencies were mounted at the end of long spokes, like those of a wheel, radiating from a central axle which held six different photographic series. The long axle ran inside a drum 65 cm in diameter. From the outside, this was a very large, long cylindrical device with six viewing ports. Used in Berlin, Vienna, and Weimar (possibly also in Brussels and Amsterdam).

Model 5: Automat Schnellseher. 1891. Disk enclosed in a rectangular cabinet which was set on a stand or mounted on the wall. Manufactured by the Charlottenburg Werke of Siemens & Halske from 1891 to 1893 in at least 102 copies. The picture disk held between 18 and 24 images. Frequently called the Electrical Schnellseher; in Great Britain called the Electrical Wonder. Three examples survive.

Model 6: Home Model Schnellseher. c. 1892. Basically the Siemens & Halske model with a hand crank and gearing substituted for the electrical motor, no coin-operating accessory, a form-fitting circular housing for the disk and a lighter, smaller wooden case meant to sit on a tabletop. It is uncertain how many of these were made or sold.

Model 7: Open Home Model Schnellseher. Sometime after 1894. This model was offered only by Anschtz himself in his Berlin catalogues, and remained available until 1907. It is an even more simplified version of Model 6, with an open disk above a lightweight case using a hand crank.

Model 8: Projecting Electrotachyscope. 1894. The only model that universally has the same name across the literature. A projecting apparatus using two disks holding 12 images each and intermittent illumination to project in large halls. Used in Berlin and Hamburg in late 1894 and early 1895.

In all of this work, Ottomar Anschuetz was more interested in reproducing natural movement than in analysing it; he was not a scientist but a photographer and attempted to be a showman as well. He also made several models of improved zoetropes between 1887 and 1891.

The first exhibition devoted to Anschuetz and his work in more than half a century opens at the Filmmuseum in Dusseldorf, Schulstrasse 4, 40213 Dusseldorf, Germany, on 24 November 2000, curated by Deac Rossell.

----------------------------------

Deac Rossell 74 Manor Avenue London, SE4 1TE United Kingdom

Email: a.schroeder@gold.ac.uk

Note for Tom Jennings: Deac Rossell is the author of "Ottomar Anschuetz and his Electrical Wonder" (London, 1997: The Projection Box), which is the subject of Stephen Herbert's Dead Media Note No. 23.7. Rossell has written widely on early and pre-cinema topics for Griffithiana (Italy), Film History (US), KINtop (Germany), Archivos (Spain), The New Magic Lantern Journal (UK), and other journals. In 1998, the State University of New York Press published his "Living PIctures. The Origins of the Movies".




Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 21:56:28 +0100 (BST)

19 May 2000

Dear Tom Jennings:

Didier Volckaert's working note (No. 47.3) inspires me to add a bit of new information that did not appear in Dead Media Note No. 23.7 about the Anschuetz Schnellseher, or Tachyscope as it is frequently called in English.

There were seven models of the electrical Schnellseher made by the eminent photographer Ottomar Anschuetz, originally from Lissa in the Prussian province of Posen between 1887 and 1894. All worked on the same principle: a disk held a series of photographic tranparencies around its outer rim and spun continuously; contacts on the disk initiated an intermittently illuminated Geissler tube behind the images at the viewing port, by setting off a low-voltage circuit to a Ruhmkorff coil which then sent a high-voltage charge to the lamp. A milk-glass sheet at the viewing port diffused the light evenly across the image. The transparencies were made by a 12-part, later 24-part camera using an innovative focal-plane shutter designed by Anschuetz that was in production in his own still cameras and in Goerz hand cameras until the mid-1920s. The transparencies on the picture-disks were originally glass, and later (after c. 1892) celluloid.

The Anschuetz Schnellseher was intended as an instrument for both education and entertainment, and was seen very widely in public, with demonstrations or exhibitions in Berlin, New York City, Frankfurt am Main, Wiesbaden, Dresden, (all 1888); and later in Brussels, Boston (USA), Philadelphia, Vienna, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Paris, London, Chicago, Stockholm, Lisbon, Hamburg, Lubeck, and many other cities. The Schnellseher was in virtually cintinuous exhibition in Berlin, from 1887, and was installed throughout the grounds of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago from May, 1893. In several cities, the automat Schnellseher made from 1891 by Siemens & Halske was installed in "Schnellseher Parlors", to use terminology taken from the later Kinetoscope Parlors of Thomas Edison, including in Berlin, London, New York City, and Boston. In New York City, Schnellsehers were installed at both Koster & Bial's Music Hall and at the Eden Musee from 1892.

Attendance figures for some of these exhibitions survive. The Schnellseher was seen by 15,000 people at the Berlin Exhibition Park between July 18 and August 25, 1891. In Hamburg, at the Italian Exhibition, 30 automat Schnellsehers were viewed by 56,645 people between May 11 and October 13, 1895. In Lubeck, 12 Schnellsehers were seen by 10, 152 people in July and August of the same year. An exhibitor traveled with a Schnellseher throughout Cuba and Central American until 1901.

Briefly, the Schnellseher models were:

Model 1: Prototype or Experimental Schnellseher. Autumn, 1887. A simple tabletop model demonstrated for the family, and which established the working principles of Anschuetz's disk apparatus. . Model 2: Freestanding Schnellseher, mounted on a tall iron base with a disk holding 24 images 150 cm in diameter. 1887. Exhibited both in Europe and North American. Called the Electrotachyscope in America, This is visually the best-known Anschtz Schnellseher, as an illustration from Scientific American has been widely reproduced in the literature.

Model 3: Improved Freestanding Schnellseher. 1889. On a different stand, lighter in weight and more easily transportable. Intended to be seen, as the model above, by small groups of people standing in a darkened room on one side of a wall, into which a hole had been cut, with the apparatus on the other side of the wall.

Model 4: Drum Schnellseher. 1890. The rarest of all the publicly demonstrated Schnellsehers, probably only one example made. In this model, transparencies were mounted at the end of long spokes, like those of a wheel, radiating from a central axle which held six different photographic series. The long axle ran inside a drum 65 cm in diameter. From the outside, this was a very large, long cylindrical device with six viewing ports. Used in Berlin, Vienna, and Weimar (possibly also in Brussels and Amsterdam).

Model 5: Automat Schnellseher. 1891. Disk enclosed in a rectangular cabinet which was set on a stand or mounted on the wall. Manufactured by the Charlottenburg Werke of Siemens & Halske from 1891 to 1893 in at least 102 copies. The picture disk held between 18 and 24 images. Frequently called the Electrical Schnellseher; in Great Britain called the Electrical Wonder. Three examples survive.

Model 6: Home Model Schnellseher. c. 1892. Basically the Siemens & Halske model with a hand crank and gearing substituted for the electrical motor, no coin-operating accessory, a form-fitting circular housing for the disk and a lighter, smaller wooden case meant to sit on a tabletop. It is uncertain how many of these were made or sold.

Model 7: Open Home Model Schnellseher. Sometime after 1894. This model was offered only by Anschtz himself in his Berlin catalogues, and remained available until 1907. It is an even more simplified version of Model 6, with an open disk above a lightweight case using a hand crank.

Model 8: Projecting Electrotachyscope. 1894. The only model that universally has the same name across the literature. A projecting apparatus using two disks holding 12 images each and intermittent illumination to project in large halls. Used in Berlin and Hamburg in late 1894 and early 1895.

In all of this work, Ottomar Anschuetz was more interested in reproducing natural movement than in analysing it; he was not a scientist but a photographer and attempted to be a showman as well. He also made several models of improved zoetropes between 1887 and 1891.

The first exhibition devoted to Anschuetz and his work in more than half a century opens at the Filmmuseum in Dusseldorf, Schulstrasse 4, 40213 Dusseldorf, Germany, on 24 November 2000, curated by Deac Rossell.

----------------------------------

Deac Rossell 74 Manor Avenue London, SE4 1TE United Kingdom

Email: a.schroeder@gold.ac.uk

Note for Tom Jennings: Deac Rossell is the author of "Ottomar Anschuetz and his Electrical Wonder" (London, 1997: The Projection Box), which is the subject of Stephen Herbert's Dead Media Note No. 23.7. Rossell has written widely on early and pre-cinema topics for Griffithiana (Italy), Film History (US), KINtop (Germany), Archivos (Spain), The New Magic Lantern Journal (UK), and other journals. In 1998, the State University of New York Press published his "Living PIctures. The Origins of the Movies".