UNIDENTIFIED 70MM BELL & HOWELL-MOUNT FILM MAGAZINES
Manufacturer Unknown Late 1950's to Early 1960's
These two 70mm motion picture film magazines were manufactured with a Bell & Howell-style mount, suggesting their use on a Bell & Howell 2709 of that film gauge.
Bell & Howell, famous for their 2709 35mm motion picture camera, is not known to have ever built a 70mm camera during either the early 1930's when various widescreen formats were being experimented with, or during the 65mm/70mm widescreen movement of the late 1950's and early 1960's. One possible 70mm process, other than Fox's Grandeur (1929) and Realife (1930) both of which used the Mitchell-base Fox Grandeur Camera, was Panoramico Alberini (1914) which employed a 70mm negative. The Panoramico process fell within the era when Bell & Howell's 2709 existed and was popular, but I haven't been able to confirm what camera was employed in this process.
Both magazines are unidentified as to maker, other than having number designations (No. 21 on the larger, No. 1 on the smaller). The larger magazine has a 1,000' capacity with the smaller magazine's capacity at 400'. Both magazines are equipped with their metal film cores and are identical in construction, suggesting they were made by the same manufacturer. The 1,000' magazine, measuring approximately 23" x 11-1/2" x 3-3/4", weighs approximately 17 lbs. The 400' magazine, measuring 17" x 8-1/2" x 3/3/4", weighs approximately 10 lbs.
Some Bell & Howell 2709's were adapted to accept 35mm Mitchell magazines, as well as 35mm Mitchells being adapted to use Bell & Howell magazines. Compared with 35mm, 65mm/70mm equipment was considerably more limited and was purpose-built, being manufactured for the most part by Fearless Camera, Mitchell Camera, Todd-AO Mitchell, Panavision/Mitchell/MGM or Technicolor/Technirama. These 70mm magazines would seem to suggest they were made to fit a Bell & Howell 2709 or another camera with a similar mount. While I can rattle off any number of motion picture camera manufacturers, I'm not familiar with all of their magazine mounts or whether any of them were possibly compatible with Bell & Howell's mount. One version of a Debrie 35mm high-speed camera's magazine appears to be similar to Bell & Howell's mount based on a side-profile photograph seen. But again, I don't believe Debrie made a 70mm camera. It would be great to hear from anyone with more information, as other 70mm Bell & Howell-mount magazines are known to exist.
Another issue concerns when these magazines were built. Based upon their exterior finishes, film chamber cover styles and pulley surrounds, it's entirely possible that these magazines could date to the 1930's or early 1940's, but in this format they're really indicative of the 1950's/1960's widescreen era.
Whatever the real answer is, 65mm and 70mm magazines by any maker are very scarce today, given that most Hollywood work was done in 35mm. Adding to this, the widescreen trend was relatively short-lived, owing as to why so little of this equipment is seen today.
1000-FOOT MAGAZINE (No. 21)
400-FOOT MAGAZINE (No. 1)