Snapshots #7

The postcard randomly chosen at a writing workshop reminds me of early cinema and my past profession.

From the late 70s and throughout the 80s, I made a comfortable living being a pre-cinema dealer between London and Paris, eventually expanding to Germany and The States.

I sold optical toys, French tin magic lanterns, magic lantern slides, persistence of vision ephemera, optical illusions and dexterity puzzles overlapping into prints of the tripod and early photography, a big investment commodity in a New York especially. I supplied knowledgeable private collectors and small pre-cinema museums.

Odd that in a writing workshop I should have randomly chosen a postcard of Shoreham beach because there were film studios there in the early days.

My work was sourcing material in Paris, meeting vintage photographic and scientific dealers who were almost always photographers, buying from them to sell in London, Frankfurt, Vienna or New York.

I first became a member of the British Ephemera Society in 1977 and then joined The Magic Lantern Society in London and The Music Box Society in 1978 which overlapped into mechanical music, limonaires, barrel organs and automata.  

When I began trading, I bought magic lantern slides, French Aubert and Lapierre tin magic lanterns, phenakistascopes, stroboscopes, zoetropes,  thaumatropes, praxinoscopes, anamorphose discs and supplied film directors and producers like Bill Douglas and Howard Kazanjian to name just a couple.

I had no competition for 15 years trading mainly between London and Paris before the tunnel had even been thought of.

I was simply known as Jilliana. No need for my surname as there was no other!  

I was not only in the world of pre-cinema but also The Allied Performing Arts such as conjuring, circus, ventriloquism and puppetry. I even acquired a magical husband through my number one conjuring client whose collection today is in the hands of David Copperfield.

Today, it is not easy to find these precious objects which are mainly in museums or private collections worldwide.

I am happy to say that Hove museum has a very small excellent collection from the well-established Barnes Collection up on the first floor as Hove, too, had a past early cinema and photography connection.

Written in Laura Wilkinson’s Creative Future Writing workshop 3 April 2019.


Wikipedia - Anamorphose
Wikipedia - limonaire
Wikipedia - zoetrope 
Wikipedia - phenakistoscope
Wikipedia - zograscope 
Wikipedia - thaumatrope 
Wikipedia - Howard Kazanjian 
Wikipedia - Bill Douglas 

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