I am delighted to share with you all this fascinating, extremely rare, ca. 1921 Wilart Camera restored by my good friend Michael Madden. Our research indicates that this camera was manufactured by the Wilart Instrument Co., Inc. as their all-metal professional cinema camera. The Wilart Instrument Company, Inc. was incorporated in July 1919 by Erik W. Nelson, Alexander Magnuson, and Arthur Berglund. They were headquartered at 13 Rose Street in New Rochelle, New York. Contemporary advertising from Motion Picture News in August 1920 boasts the camera’s durable, all-metal construction; automatic shutter; and behind-the-lens slots for split screen and spyglass, keyhole, and other effects masks. The camera also features an ingenious critical focusing tube that allows the cinematographer to view and compose through a single frame of film without fogging any of the adjacent frames. (In days of yore, before film had anti-halation coatings, cinematographers would routinely use the film like a ground glass, and compose and focus by looking through the film at the image the taking lens was seeing.) Additional features include footage and frame counters, a micrometer-based focus control that synced focus between the finder lens and the taking lens, automatic light traps on the magazine, along with a variety of other forward thinking features unique to the Wilart camera.
As is his usual practice, Michael meticulously restored this Wilart camera back to shooting condition. It should be noted that this camera is fitted with a replacement 400’ magazine, a replacement crank, and a Wollensak Cine-Velostigmat lens which is not original, but is contemporary to the camera. Advertising indicates that, when delivered from the factory, the camera came with a matched set of Goerz Hypar lenses, one for the finder and one for the taking lens. The camera does still include an original Goerz Hypar finder lens. This camera, serial number 202, is a fantastic example of the sadly short-lived, extremely rare Wilart cameras. I am excited to help Michael find a really good home for this rare treasure.