Ampro Corporation, est. 1914

Museum Artifact: AMPRO Precision Projector, KS model, c. 1936

Made By: The Ampro Corporation., 2839-51 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL

“Everything that projection engineers could wish to achieve . . . everything that you movie-makers have felt should go into the ideal 16mm mechanism . . . everything you could possibly wish for, is combined in the AMPRO Precision Projector.” —advertisement in Movie Makers magazine,

Revere Camera Company, est. 1939

Museum Artifact: Revere 88 Movie Camera and Revere 85 Movie Projector, 1940s

Made By: Revere Camera Company, 320 E. 21st St., Chicago, IL

“The Revere takes the clearest and steadiest home movies you have ever seen. Its advanced design (pocket size), its exclusive automatic film-threading sprocket, five speeds (including slow motion), precision construction, and many other proven features make Revere the outstanding value of 8mm movie cameras.”

Allied MFG Co., est. 1934

Museum Artifact: Komic Kamera Film Strip Viewer, 1934

Made By: Allied MFG Co., 1338 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL

Once upon a time, during a fleeting moment of optimism smack dab in the solar plexus of the Great Depression, an 18 year-old kid named Harold B. Shapiro applied for a patent on a device he called a “film exhibitor”—a small bakelite box intended for the “direct viewing of scenic or other picture films .

Bell & Howell Co., est. 1907

Museum Artifacts: Bell & Howell 8mm Magazine Movie Camera 172 (c. 1950), Filmo Auto Load 16mm Movie Camera (1940s), and Filmosound 179 16mm Film Projector (1940s)

Made By: Bell & Howell Co., 1801 W. Larchmont Ave., Chicago, IL

“When you buy a roll of film, it is worth just what you pay for it, and no more. But, once it has gone through your camera,

Burke & James, Inc., est. 1897

Museum Artifact: Rexo Junior Camera, 1910s

Made By: Burke & James, Inc., 240-58 E. Ontario St., Chicago, IL

By 1915, New York’s Eastman Company had adopted a recurring tagline in most of its magazine advertisements: “If it’s not an Eastman, it’s not a Kodak.” This was a not-so-subtle way of reminding the American public that—while there were an increasing number of new,

Essanay Film MFG Co., est. 1907

Museum Artifact: Charlie Chaplin Collectible Postcard, Essanay No. 1 , 1915

Made By: Essanay Film MFG Co. / Essanay Studios, 1333 W. Argyle St., Chicago, IL

On a quiet, tree-lined street in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, just north of the old St. Boniface Cemetery and around the corner from the Green Mill jazz club and the long-shuttered Uptown Theatre (once one of the world’s great movie palaces),

Spartus Camera Corp. / Galter MFG Co., est. 1934

Museum Artifact: Spartus Full-Vue Camera, 1940s

Made By: Spartus Camera Corp. / Galter MFG Co. / Utility MFG Co. / Monarch MFG Co., 711 W. Lake St., Chicago, IL

In 1953, a Chicago business owner submitted an application to the U.S. Trademark Association for a new line of cigarette lighters he’d developed. All the paperwork seemed in order at first, until reviewers saw the actual name the applicant wanted to register for his product… “Kodak.”

At that point in history,

DeVry Corporation, est. 1913

Museum Artifact: DeVry 16mm Movie Camera, 1929

Made By: DeVry Corp / QRS-DeVry Corp., 1111 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL

Research is underway on this one and a full write-up will be coming soon.

Excel Projector Corp., est. 1933

Museum Artifact: Excel Film Projector, c. 1940s

Made By: Excel Projector Corp. / Excel Movie Products Inc., 4234 Drummond Place, Chicago, IL

From the late 1930s to the early 1950s—in that pop cultural gap between the height of the movie palace era and the birth of television—film projectors emerged as the first great visual medium for home entertainment. Along with the ever-present Kodak, several Chicago companies became key suppliers in this new home movie industry,

Columbia Medallion Studios, est. 1888

Museum Artifact: Tintype Photo Medallion of Child, c. 1910s

Made By: Columbia Medallion Studios / Columbia Portrait Co., 6616-6620 South Cottage Grove Ave., Chicago, IL

“Don’t Let Memories Grow Dim!” That tagline from a 1919 advertisement for Columbia Medallion Studios takes on a whole new context now that it’s appearing within a hazy retrospective on the memory-saving studio itself. Who preserves the preservers?!

Compco Corp., est. 1940s

Museum Artifact: Compco 8mm Film Reel & Can, c. 1950s

Made By: Compco Corp., 1800 N. Spaulding Ave.

In the middle of the 20th century, home-made 8mm movies weren’t thought of as fuzzy sentimental keepsakes of long-ago family memories. They were hip technology—the Youtube of the times, giving millions of middle class folks the chance to see themselves (and maybe their kids, too,

Ingento No. 7 Paper Cutter by Burke & James Inc., c. 1920s

Burke & James, Inc., 240-258 E. Ontario St., Chicago, IL

The Ingento No. 7 was Burke & James’ custom-made guillotine / trimming board for 5×7″ photographic prints. The “Ingento” brand, like the “Rexo” and others, was used liberally across a lot of the Burke & James product lines, including some of the actual cameras themselves. As the advertisement below indicates, there were at least seven other Ingento paper cutters by 1919,

Acro-Flash Miniature Bakelite Camera by Herold MFG Co., 1950s

Herold MFG Co. / Utility MFG / Spartus Corp, 711-715 W. Lake St. and 2110 W. Walnut St., Chicago, IL

The Acro-Flash is one of more than a dozen bakelite minicams in the museum collection, all produced by the same manufacturer. Jack Galter’s Spartus Corp. famously operated under about 50 other names between 1939 and 1960. In this case, we can date the Acro-Flash to the early 1950s, when Spartus sales manager Harold Rubin was handed the reins of the company and briefly rechristened it Herold Products Co.