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Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

Posted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:05 am
by marop
Hello all,

I have had a collection of movie cameras for years, starting out with 8mm & Super 8 and even picked up a few 16mm. If anyone knows collectors, it's easy to expand ones collection, and I did. I bought a 35mm Mitchell GC off eBay. I later found out it was originally purchased by the US Government, apparently the largest single purchaser of Mitchell cameras. This led to an interest in owning a camera used by a Motion Picture Studio. I was able to pick up a Mitchell Standard that was first sold to Paramount Pictures in 1931. Now the hunt was on for even more information on the camera, what it actually filmed! I would look through hundreds of photos on the internet and even have done research at a library in Southern California trying to find records on its usage. I have been able to find evidence of its use on several specific movies, which was a big thrill. In the course of my searching I have found information on some other Mitchell cameras, Standards, NC's, BNC's, and even some Technicolor Cameras. I have shared information with a couple museums and other collectors. Unfortunately, the information is sparse and limited to just a few studios.

I have access to some Mitchell Company Sales records, although not for BNC's. So if there are any owners out there who don't have that information, I would be glad to check for you.

Mark

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

Posted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:14 am
by marop
Here is a photo that I found on eBay that identifies the specific camera. In this case it is a Mitchell NC serial no. 92 working on a Paramount Production. Funny thing is I have found very few NC's on the collector market. Someone told me that many of them were modified or cannibalized.

Mark

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

Posted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:44 am
by admin
Hello Mark and thanks for your generous offer to help members research their cameras. "Guests" may post their questions to Mark in this thread, or Members can send him a PM trough this board. Which ever works best.

Also: Mark: if there is anything that MitchellCamera.com can do to assist you with providing this information, we are happy to help as ownership history is the holy grail for most camera collectors.

Love that photo you inserted as well. Great job sir. We greatly appreciate your participation here.

Admin

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

Posted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:51 am
by samsonwillerd
Woah! That is the offer of the century right there. Thank you, please include us in when you help folks track down their camera's ownership. That is so interesting. Love your photo as well.

SW

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

Posted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 11:02 am
by mrcinephd
Yes I agree, wow! Very nice offer Mark. Hope you loop us in as people look for their Michell's history.

Keep on Filmin'

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

Posted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 1:03 pm
by justinwizard
Hello all. I can only speak for myself but this is one of the kindness offers of help that I have seen so far. Also one that may be a total game changer in so far as inspiring collectors of the Mitchell Camera! Just my "two cents" as Mark would say.

Be well,
Justin

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

Posted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 1:43 pm
by followthefocus1
Mark, from all the focus pullers here, thank you for contributing to the hobby in this meaningful way. We really appreciate your efforts. Now lets see some records!

Respectfully,
Followthefocus1

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

Posted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:41 pm
by marop
Thanks for all the nice comments. This photo is an example of what I look for. It is a behind the scenes photo from G. I. Blues. Look at the area under the man bending over. You can see the end a Mitchell camera lens box which holds 6 lenses, a typical set of prime lenses. It appears Elvis Presley is sitting on that box. On the side of the box is a stencil painted number 238. What you can't see is the "BNC" painted in front of the number. Anyway studios kept photo equipment together, so this lens box would stay with that camera. I can't say they never broke that rule but, at least in this case, I have found two other photos from different sets of G. I. Blues with this lens box under the camera so I would say there is no question here. I am not sure if Mitchell painted the number or the studios, but I have seen them painted just like that from various studios. I have seen that exact camera in person. At one point I was hoping to buy it but it never worked out. I believe the camera is still for sale.

If an owner hopes to go that far in research, knowing who the first owner was gives one a direction to look. In my case I knew to look at Paramount Productions. With my Standard, you won't actually see the camera, just the blimp that houses it. If you saw the camera outside the blimp you could not tell what number it was. But, at least in Paramount's case, they painted the camera serial number on the outside of the blimp. I found a great shot of a famous director posing behind the camera blimp! Perhaps I will upload that one as well. Related to another thread, the camera magazine covers, they are another great source. A friend found his camera on the cover of one. You can also find photos inside that can help.

Sort of "investigating history" I guess.

Mark

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

Posted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 8:40 am
by 35mmKing
Mark: Love the investigation side of this hobby and another great photo as well.

King

Re: Mitchell Cameras; ownership history

Posted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 9:01 am
by mitchellbnc
This is a great thread Mark. You have posted some very interesting photos which clearly aid with the identification of Mitchell cameras. Let's see some more photos which helped you in past investigations!

Regards,

Theodore Wilhelm
MitchellCamera.com administrator