Bell & Howell Company, Chicago, Illinois                                   1915-1922


This is an earlier 4-hole pulley 400-foot magazine for the Bell & Howell 2709 B 35mm motion picture camera.

Having 4-holes, this style is believed to have succeeded the 5-hole pulley design as seen on the 200-foot magazine mounted on the very first Bell & Howell 2709, Serial No. 1:



          From The American Cinematographer, February 15, 1922, showing 5-hole pulleys on a 200-foot film magazine


The 5-hole design is believed to have been very short-lived, as the photo above of Jackson Rose, A.S.C., is one of only two photos I've ever seen showing this 5-hole style magazine.  I have yet to encounter a physical example.  Photos showing 2709's from the 1912-1920 period are scant, making it hard to establish a timeline for this earliest version of Bell & Howell's magazines.

However, the 4-hole design does make its appearance by July, 1915, as seen in a photo with silent film producer and director Thomas Ince in Photoplay Magazine:



                                           From Photoplay Magazine, July, 1915


Another photo, appearing in Photoplay Magazine for March, 1917 entitled "A Bear of a Baby" by Allen Corliss, also shows an early Bell & Howell 2709 equipped with a 4-hole pulley magazine:



         From Photoplay Magazine, March, 1917          Source:  The Online Books Page


By April, 1922, pulleys having a 3-hole design appear in Photoplay Magazine, pictured in an article about Marion Davies entitled "Re-Introducing Miss Davies".  By August, 1923, the 3-hole design is also seen in Bell & Howell's advertisements for the 2709, and would continue to be found on their 400-foot magazines manufactured through WW2.  Based on surviving examples, it appears to have been the last pulley design for Bell & Howell's 400-foot magazines:


                                                                 3-hole pulley design


                 Bell & Howell logo shield on the later, 3-hole pulley magazine shown above



While Bell & Howell's post-WW2 1,000-foot magazines are found with solid-disc pulleys, I've yet to come across any post-WW2 400-foot magazines with solid-disc pulleys.


Although the 4-hole 400-foot magazine featured here has no logo shield, based upon its construction and the placement of the rollers, there is no doubt it was manufactured by Bell & Howell. The absence of any screw or rivet holes, suggests that no logo shield was ever attached. The only other markings are the number "621", believed to be the serial number and "Pat. Ap'l'd For", both of which are stamped in the area between the film chamber lids where Bell & Howell's logo shields are typically seen on later magazines:



As Bell & Howell began applying logo shields to their magazines, many were stamped with the February 13, 1917 patent date covering the magazine's design.  This date refers to Patent No. 1,215,534 which was applied for on February 6, 1915.

This all suggests that this particular magazine was manufactured between February, 1915 and February, 1917, that logo shields were not being placed on magazines during that time and that Bell & Howell's earlier magazines had their serial numbers stamped into the body shell. 

When dating these magazines based on their hardware, it should be noted that pulleys, spindles and rollers could have been changed out over time, as repairs or replacements were needed.  However, with regard to the example shown here, other than what appears to be one replaced spindle and some repainting, all of the magazine's characteristics seem consistent with its originality.


As with most other Bell & Howell 2709 components, their earlier metal magazines are seen very infrequently today.  There is no doubt that a number of 4-hole examples exist, but they are scarce relative to the later 3-hole design which is the one most often encountered.  Here's the link to a short YouTube video, demonstrating a 1915-vintage 2709 with one of these 4-hole pulley magazines:









Charlie Chaplin with a Bell & Howell 2709 equipped with a 4-hole pulley 400-foot magazine   (undated)



Cinematographer Margery Ordway with a Bell & Howell 2709 equipped with a 4-hole pulley 400-foot magazine from Photoplay Magazine, October, 1916                                 Source:  The Online Books Page




             Ad from The American Cinematographer, August, 1923 depicting the later 3-hole pulley magazine



            Unidentified cameraman with a Bell & Howell 2709 equipped with a 4-hole pulley 400-foot magazine (undated)                  Source:  John Clark



          Essanay silent film director Harry Beaumont, wearing tinted pince-nez, watches Bryant Washburn and Hazel Daly act out a scene for "Filling His Own Shoes." The cameraman Will E. Smith cranks a Bell & Howell model 2709 motion picture camera.

Production still from one of Bryant Washburn and Hazel Daly's shorts entitled Filling His Own Shoes, June 11, 1917.  Note that in relation to the camera's size, this appears to be a smaller, 200-foot capacity 4-hole pulley magazine.             Source: Photoplay Magazine, August, 1917


            Article from Photoplay Magazine, March, 1919 showing silent film producer and director Thomas Ince with a 4-hole pulley 400-foot magazine



Patent No. 1,215,534 for a "Film Magazine for Cinematograph or Motion Picture Cameras" was granted to Albert S. Howell on February 13, 1917.  Later, magazines manufactured for the civilian market during WW2 would be constructed of wood, since aluminum and other metals were needed for war production.  These typically have a chrome logo shield with simply "Bell & Howell Co., Chicago", sometimes having a serial number and sometimes not.     




                                                        Source: Google Patents


                                                       Source:  Google Patents