MITCHELL BI-PACK 35MM MAGAZINE
Mitchell Camera Corporation, West Hollywood, California Late 1920's to mid-1930's
This a somewhat earlier example of a 400' Mitchell Bi-Pack 35mm magazine for the Mitchell Standard 35mm motion picture camera. Bi-Pack magazines came into use around the early 1930's as experimentation began with 2-strip color processes. This unit is comprised of two magazines mounted together, with the bottom magazine being of later manufacture and having Serial No. 7505, Model BI-400, and the upper magazine being of an earlier style, but unmarked.
Having a "West Hollywood" address on the maker's tag, the lower magazine could date to somewhere between 1929 and 1945. However, if the 8-hole pulleys it's equipped with are original, it would probably place its manufacture closer to the mid-1930's. The magazine is equipped with heavily ribbed chamber cover rims (or magazine lids) along with four grips making them easier to open. The chambers and doors are felt-lined. In contrast to Mitchell's earlier three-piece magazines, this magazine's shell is a single casting.
By November, 1929, Mitchell's 1000' magazines were being produced with the heavily ribbed rim design on the film chamber doors, like those seen here on this lower 400' magazine.
The upper magazine is equipped with early-style 6-hole pulleys and with smooth casing and film chamber cover rims, the covers having tiny ribbing on the inside and outside edges of the rim to facilitate removal. The chambers and doors are ribbed inside to reduce friction. These early style magazines are said to be three-piece, having the two circular film chambers bolted to the base. They were constructed in this manner until Mitchell was able to produce a single casting.
This early style magazine's characteristics are in contrast to later magazines having spoke pulleys, solid (or rimless) casings and heavily-ribbed film chamber covers with grip aids that are seen on most Mitchell magazines beginning in the early to mid-1930's.
This magazine style is seen in Mitchell advertisements in The American Cinematographer as early as January, 1922 and continues to be reflected in their ads into August, 1923.
Mitchell No. 5, originally sold in 1922 and now residing in the ASC Museum in Los Angeles, is equipped with this same style three-piece magazine having 8-hole pulleys.
As seen in the photo below, Rudolph Valentino is cranking a Mitchell Camera equipped with an early magazine. With Valentino's passing on August 23, 1926, this style of magazine was firmly in use by the mid-1920's. I haven't determined when production of this style ceased, but they were still being used on some bi-pack work in the early to mid-1930's based upon the combination shown here and another photograph found dating to about 1931 showing an early-style Mitchell Bi-Pack.
It should also be noted, that identification and dating of magazines can be somewhat difficult and often imprecise. Given that magazines from a different timeline (or era) could be matched up as in the case of the bi-pack featured here, and that pulleys, spindles, covers and rollers could be (and were) replaced over time, it's a wonder that a number of them have survived unmodified from their original manufacture.
Article from The International Photographer, July, 1929, with a photo taken June, 1919 showing the early style rimmed magazine
Ad from The American Cinematographer January 1, 1922
Ad from The American Cinematographer April, 1923
Ad from The American Cinematographer August,1923
Rudolph Valentino behind the Mitchell Camera, probably taken between 1922 and 1924