George R. Stringham, New York

  Emile Labrely, Chatou, France            1915? - 1920?







This combination iris dissolve or vignette diaphragm and mask box assembly bears the stampings "Made by G.R. Stringham, N.Y." (for George R. Stringham) and E. Labrely, Constructeur" (for Georges "Emile" Camille Labrely, Chatou, France) and was probably built sometime between 1915 and 1920.


This attachment permitted the cameraman to make manual dissolves (fade-in/fade-out) and to utilize different masks. This particular attachment was adapted for use on a Pathe Professional 35mm motion picture camera, modified by the American Motion Picture Machine Works of Long Island City, New York. Among a number of improvements made to this Pathe by American Motion Picture Machine Works, the camera's standard leather-covered wooden front panel was replaced with a hinged metal door equipped with a cylindrical mount. This mount permitted the use of this iris dissolve and mask box, other mask boxes and special effects attachments as well as the use of a brass lens cap when the camera wasn't being used.


         Iris dissolve/mask box mounted on a Pathe Professional 35mm


The iris dissolve/mask box was acquired along with a Pathe Professional 35mm motion picture camera outfit. Its date of manufacture is based somewhat on the camera with which it was found, but more so on the period that Stringham was engaged in the manufacture and repair of motion picture apparatus.


George R. Stringham

George R. Stringham was a machinist, performing all sorts of repair and optical work for motion picture cameras.  He held at least four patents, all related to the Russell Camera, a 35mm motion picture camera constructed of Condensite that was introduced in 1918.


The Russell was introduced in March, 1918. Three patents shown on the camera's face, plus a fourth uncovered that were granted to George R. Stringham for the camera's design.  The earliest reference I've found for the Russell Motion Picture Camera is an advertisement for "George R. Stringham, Precision Machinist, 47 West 42nd Street (New York)", in Cinema News, Volume 3, Issue No. 2 for May 1919.   The ad states "The Russell Motion Picture Camera Demonstrated":


               Advertisement from Cinema News, Volume 3, Issue No. 2 for May,1919



                                             Source:  Google Patents


                                           Source:  Google Patents


                                               Source:  Google Patents


                                               Source:  Google Patents


All four patents are associated with the Russell Camera, and were granted to George R. Stringham.  The first patent was assigned to Theo B. Lyon, Mamaroneck, New York and W. Wallace Lyon, White Plains, New York, Trustee.  The last three patents were assigned to Martin V. Kelley, Trustee, New York.  Research has yet to determine the business entity(s) these trustees were related to, or the origination of the Russell name.

The Transactions of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, Volume Eight, April 14-16, 1919, Philadelphia, describes the Russell Camera and its operation in detail.  Based on this, the Russell was being manufactured in 1919, prior to issuance of the patents. Russell Camera Inc. is also listed in the Editor and Publisher for December 4, 1920.


                                    The Russell Camera



Georges "Emile" Camille Labrely

Per Geneanet, Georges "Emile" Camille Labrely (1886-1971) started at Pathe in 1906 as a mechanical engineer. He first worked in the Chatou factory dedicated to phonographs, under the orders of his father, Frederic Eugene Emile. In 1908 he moved to Vincennes, under the direction of Charles Pathe, where he was attached to the scientific service. As the Chief Engineer at Pathe, Labrely would team with Jules Richard in the development of an aerial camera.





Today, like the motion picture cameras from this era, special effects attachments such as these are quite rare.


For more information on the Russell Camera, other professional motion picture cameras and equipment, and Antique Photographica featured on this website, click on the links below:

The Russell Camera

Professional Cinematography

Antique Photographica