Charles URBAN

(Cincinnati, 1867-Brighton, 1942)

urban charles

Jean-Claude SEGUIN

1

Johann Urban. Descendance :

  • Joseph von Urban (Ronsberg, [1846]->1918) épouse (01/07/1865) Anna, Sophie Glatz (Koenigsberg, [1847]-04/1887). Descendance :
    • Emma Urban (14/04/1866-25/08/1886).
    • Carl dit "Charles" Urban (Cincinnati, 15/04/1867-Brighton, 29/08/1942)
      • épouse (Grand Rapids, 19/12/1888), Julia Lamour[a]eux Avery (Grand Rapids, 06/10/1864-).
      • épouse Ada Aline Gorecki (Lanarkshire, 15/05/1873-Londres, 02/10/1937).
    • Clara Urban (Kentucky, 17/07/1869-).
    • Ida "Edith" Urban (Kentucky, 05/09/1870-).
    • [Alfred Urban (1872-)].
    • Ernst Urban (Cincinnati, [1874]-Cook, 22/07/1907).
    • Otto "Ralph" Urban (Cincinnati, 18/09/1875-Villa Park, 03/05/1933) épouse Estella Anderson (Ohio, 1880-)
    • Hilda Urban (1878-Chicago, 01/02/1930).
    • Arthur Urban (1885-).

Les généalogies qui figurent sur les sites spécialisés (par exemple ancestry.com) ont confondu deux familles celle de l'épouse de Charles Urban, Julia L(amoureaux) Avery et celle de Julia A. Emery qui n'a rien à voir: Recensement 1870 (famille Julia L. Avery), Recensement 1880 (famille Julia L. Avery) et Biographie Avery

Les données généalogiques que Charles Urban donne dans ses mémoires ne correspondent pas toujours avec les autres documents conservés (liste de passagers, recensements...).

2

Charles Urban a laissé des mémoires où il évoque brièvement sa famille. Originaire de Prusse, son père, Joseph Urban, est créateur de papiers peints :

He was educated in Vienna and stationed in barracks there during his military service. He had no business experience but had artistic tendencies which led to his becoming a wallpaper designer. This brought him into contact with the window blind, wallpaper, paint and sign writing business, which he followed as his chosen occupation.


URB, 1999: 9.

Quand à sa mère, Anna Sophie Glatz, prussienne également, elle a des origines polonaises :

Mother: was the third daughter of my grandmother whose maiden name was Pauline Zelinski of Polish parentage. My grandmother married Professor Peter Glatz of Koenigsberg, Prussia. My mother never knew her father, as he was killed in a students' riot before she was born. Grandmother emigrated with her two eldest daughters, Ida and Emma (my aunts) to America, settling with relations in Cincinnati, Ohio, where mother was born May 14th 1846, being named Anna Sophie Glatz.


URB, 1999: 9.

La famille maternelle part de Brême à bord de l'America pour rejoindre les États-Unis où elle arrive le 30 juillet 1850. Elle s'installe à Cincinnati (Ohio) où elle réside (recensement 1860) pendant quelques années (recensement 1870). D'après Charles Urban son père se serait installé à Cincinnati en 1864. C'est là que Joseph Urban recontre Anna Sophie Glatz qu'il épouse le 1er juillet 1865. Quelques années après Joseph, Anna Sophie et leurs enfants quittent l'Ohio pour s'installer dans le Kentucky :

1871-2 [sic] Louisville: Father was induced to enter into partnership with a man named Tummell to found a factory in Louisville, Kentucky for the manufacture of window-blind fabric and operate a store for the sale of this product and wallpaper, paints etc. When this deal was concluded, in May 1871, Father, mother, the three sisters and I left Cincinnati by one of the Ohio river packet steamboats for Louisville.


URB, 1999: 10.

Contrairement à ce qu'écrit Charles Urban, la famille est déjà recensée en 1870 à Louisville, ce qui laisse à penser que l'installation a été quelque peu antérieure. En outre, Joseph figure comme "policeman" sur le recensement, métier qu'il a peut-être exercé avant de se consacrer à son usine. De cette époque, Charles en a gardé des souvenirs heureux:

Altogether we wereAltogether we werea very happy and contented family.


URB, 1999: 10.

Pourtant, Mr. Tummell, son associé, va faire main basse sur tout l'argent de l'entreprise et disparaître, laissant dans la ruine Joseph Urban et sa famille. Ce dernier, devenu fort ombrageux, va malgré remonter une petite affaire de lettrage-signalétique. Pourtant la situation se détoriore encore, et le père décide de revenir à Cincinnati. C'est à cette époque [1879] qu'il va perdre un oeil à la suite d'un violent coup de batte lors d'un match de baseball. Par la suite, il commence à travailler dans l'entreprise Perry et Morton:

Mr. Perry was an old quaker while his nephew Morton was an old sport about town. They offered me a job as clerk at three dollars per week.


URB, 1899: 19.

La situation familiale  (recensement de 1880) devenant intenable à cause des sautes d'humeur et de l'alcoolisme de Joseph Urban, Charles Urban accepte un travail à Grand Rapids et quitte les siens, en novembre 1886. Parmi d'autres activités, il travaille pour le De Forge and Company Book Store et s'occupe de vendre des ouvrages dans plusieurs villes des États-Unis, pendant quelques mois, avant de revenir à Grand Rapids où il épouse Julia Avery en décembre 1888, puis le couple s'installe à Chicago, puis à Detroit (1889) où il est responsable d'une papeterie. Il monte ensuite une affaire de machines à écrire et de phonographe.

urban 1893 detroit doan urban
The Doan and Urban shop, 141 Griswold Ctreet, Detroit, 1893.
Source: Science & Society Picture Library.
(Reproduit dans URB, 1999:30).

Le kinetoscope (1895-1896)

Les premiers kinetoscopes s'installent à Detroit, sur la Woodward Avenue, à partir du 19 novembre 1894. Charles Urban raconte comment il en est venu à ouvrir un kinetoscope Parlor:

After showing these kinetoscopes in the larger towns of Michigan, Raff and Gammon, the Concessionaires, sold the six machines to the Michigan Electric Company. I had sold them the idea of opening a slot machine parlour on the ground floor of their extensive building on Woodward Avenue (the Piccadilly of Detroit). I also sold to them my phonograph agency with twenty slot machine phonographs, and five additional picture machines, to which were added a phonograph, the record of which would synchronise with the movement of the picture. This was called the Kinetophone and was the first talking picture machine. undertook to manage this 'parlour' with its thirty machines. It was beautifully decorated and lighted and became very popular. Looking after the automatic coin devices, changing the film and sound records daily and keeping them all in adjustment, was a whole day's job.


URB, 1899: 31-32.

urban 1895 kinetoscopeThe Michigan Electric Company's Phonograph and Kinetoscope parlour, 101 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, 1895.
Source: Science & Society Picture Library.
(Reproduit dans URB, 1999:31).

En  1896, lorsqu'il entend parler des projections du cinématographe Lumière à New York, il fait le voyage pour découvrir la nouveauté :

Later that year, was announced the first exhibition of the Lumière Cinématographe at Koster and Bial's Music Hall, New York City. Lumière was sent from Lyons, France. This was preceded a few months earlier by Edison's 'Vitascope' at the Eden Musée West 23rd Street, New York. I took an early trip to New York to see their wonders, which were shown on an open screen before a large audience. I lost all interest ever after in slot machines and tried to acquire one of these projecting machines but neither Lumière's nor the Edison Vitascope could be bought, only leased.


URB, 1899: 32.

L'impossibilité d'acheter un appareil conduit Charles Urban à trouver une autre solution. 

Les débuts du Bioscope (1896-1897)

Charles Urban reprend contact avec Walter L. Isaacs, qui l'a approvisionné en matériel. C'est un ingénieur installé à New York qui va réaliser le prototype du "bioscope". C'est entre le printemps et l'automne 1896 que les deux hommes vont travailler ensemble:

During my phonograph days I bought a lot of accessories from a Mr. Walter Isaacs (New York) who also made machine parts. I called on him and we jointly designed a motion picture projecting machine, which I named the 'Bioscope'. After testing the first model he had completed, I placed an order with him for fifty machines, which I had decided to sell outright. Edison however had anticipated me by putting on the market a portable projecting machine before I secured delivery of a quantity of Bioscopes from Walter Isaacs.


URB, 1999: 32.

On ne dispose finalement que peu d'informations sur les origines de cet appareil, mais le nom même marque une continuité avec l'appareil de Georges Demenÿ ce que rappelle d'ailleurs Charles Urban lui-même quelques années plus tard:

May I state that l am the sole licensee in Great Britain and the Colonies for the well-known Demeny patent, which is the basic movement of the Bioscope, and which movement-not the trembling one—is considered the perfection of movement for animated pictures?


The Era, Londres, samedi 2 mai 1903, p. 21.

Selon Charles Urban, Walter L. Isaacs n'a pas les reins assez solides pour se lancer dans une production et, de fait, les résultats ne sont pas à la hauteur des espérances. Il rentre alors en contact avec l'entreprise de F. Z. Maguire et J. D. Baucus :

Referring again to the business - I sold as many Bioscopes as Isaacs could construct for me although these did not come on fast enough to suit me. I went to New York to try to speed up the work and while there called on the firm of Maguire and Baucus, who had the distribution rights of the Edison film subjects for Europe. Much to my surprise and satisfaction, I found that Mr. Robert L. Thomae, through whom I got into the phonograph business, had been appointed manager for New York of Maguire and Baucus of the Edison projectors and films. I arranged with him for a preferential supply of films, twenty to thirty of which I required for each Bioscope outfit which I sold.


URB, 1999: 36.

L'idée est d'aller remplacer Mr. Stapleton qui a en charge la succursale londonienne. Charles Urban va finalement accepter la proposition :

A few months after this meeting, I received a letter from Mr. Thomae stating that Maguire and Baucus were desirous of making a change of managers in their London office and strongly recommended that I apply for this position.There were two other men in view for this position and Thomae wired for me to come to New York at once if I expected a selection in my favour. Mr. Thomae recommended me highly for my sales ability and my adherence of carrying out any terms or agreement I had entered into. Both Mr. Maguire and Mr. Baucus were in London with the manager Mr. Stapleton whom they were going to replace. Upon reaching their office at 66 Pine Street New York I met Mr. Howe, the treasurer of the company. I took a liking to Mr. Howe at once and I think that after our initial chat, he had already decided for himself in my favour. He cabled to London and had his recommendations of my self confirmed so that the following day, I received a definite offer.


URB, 1999: 36.

Commence alors pour lui, une période d'essai dans les bureaux de New York au cours de laquelle il fait la rencontre d'autres membre de l'équipe dont Albert E. Smith, alors prestidigitateur. Contre son gré, la situation va se prolonger jusqu'au mois d'août où, avec son épouse, le couple travers l'Atlantique :

My stay in New York was longer than I had anticipated. I had wound upMy stay in New York was longer than I had anticipated. I had wound upall of my American interests and set out for my first 'crossing of the pond' onthe Cunard liner R.M.S. Etruria, the fastest single screw ship on the Atlantic,sailing from New York August 14th 1897.


URB, 1999: 40.

De la "Maguire & Baucus" a la "Warwick Trading Company" (1897-mars 1903)

Les Urban arrivent à Liverpool le 22 août 1897 et dans la foulée Charles va se rendre dans les bureaux de la société Maguire and Baucus (en réalité The Continental Commerce Company Limited), situés à Dashwood House, Broad Street, non loin de Liverpool Street. En quelques lignes, il va expliquer le fonctionnement de l'agence et les raisons pour lesquelles Thomas Edison souhaite un changement dans l'équipe de direction :

While he was changing his coat, in walks the office boy - Jimmy King - followed by Miss Rosenthal or 'Rosey' as she was called by all who dealt with us. 'Rosey' was the stock keeper, saleslady and cashier. Unfortunately she had no control over the money, once she deposited same to the firm's account at the bank. As consignments of Edison films arrived we had a rush of buyers, once the information got out. As this was a cash business, considerable sums were collected on such days and it was 'Rosey's' business to see it in safe custody. Shortly after a film sales day, the managing director would usually find an excuse to go to Paris for a week or so. After his return a very small balance stood to the credit of one account at the bank. This was one of the reasons why there had been a change of four managers (including Mr. Maguire and Mr. Baucus) during fifteen months. The amount then owing to the New York office for Edison film shipped was about £1800. This debt was not being reduced.


URB, 1999: 43.

 

maguire baucus warwickMaguire and Baucus. Londres. c. 1898
Source: National Museum of Photography, Film & Television
Reproduit dans : Colin Harding and Simon Popple, In the Kingdom of Shadows, Londres, Cygnus Art, 1996, p. 15.

Dans le cadre de ses modifications, Charles Urban propose de changer le nom de la société par celui de Warwick Trading Company Ltd. :

I was also fairly impressed with the importance of changing the name of the firm, as it was difficult to do business under the Maguire and Baucus or Continental Commerce Company Limited names, as these simply 'stank' in the nostrils of business men, as one of our friends put it. I thought 'Warwick' was a good solid British name. 'Warwick' the King Maker - so I proposed that we choose the title 'Warwick Trading Company Ltd.', register under that name and start afresh from Warwick Court. He was most enthusiastic and was awaiting the arrival of Mr. Maguire from New York, who was an essential factor to such approval and decision. When I met him for the first time, I thought he was the most wide awake little man who could pass nothing by. He thought the whole idea, including our move to Warwick Court, was a good one.


URB, 1999: 45.

Finalement, c'est le 5 mai 1898 que Charles Urban va constituer la société "Warwick Trading Company" :

While turning down this proposal, I did suggest that I would be willing to invest a small sum, if they would undertake to raise about £10,000 which I considered a sum necessary to finance the business expansion we had in view. A few days later they told me that I would meet a financier 'from the City' who would discuss terms etc. and supply the required capital if satisfied. They introduced Mr. A.J. Ellis, a Moorgate Street tailor, as the financier. We had several days' conferences, concluding with the resolve to register the Warwick Trading Company Limited with a capital of £25,000 - 10,000 ordinary £1 shares and 15,000 preference £1 shares bearing 6% interest. As I was to receive 25% of the ordinary shares in lieu of my existing agreement of 10% of the profits - £600 per year instead of £500 and the managing directorship of the company I bought £500 of the preference shares. Ellis took a like amount and undertook to find purchasers for the balance of £14,000 required as capital. They sold £2,000 shares to a Mr. Nicholson, a silk merchant of Macclesfield and a £1,000 to a Mr. A.J. [sic] Wack - the manager of the American firm Mother Siegles Syrup Company Limited (cough mixture). A few thousand other shares were likewise sold, but Ellis never raised more than £7,000 wanted as capital, less that one half of the amount required. The first board of directors consisted of Mr. J.D. Baucus, in the chair, Fran[c]k Z. Maguire, F.W. [sic] Wack, A.J. Ellis, Mr. Nicholson and Charles Urban, manager. Registered 1897 [sic].


URB, 1999: 47.

urban charles 1898
Photograph showing employees of the the Warwick Trading Co Ltd. Charles urban (far ledt) examines Edison and Lumiere films, for which the Warwick Trading Co were England's agents.
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, Londres

Charles Urban semble avoir eu une relation commerciale avec la société du Royal Viograph, fondée par Constantin de Daue puisqu'il se rend en personne à Bordeaux, pour tourner quelques vues animées :

Ajoutons enfin que le premier opérateur de la Société du Royal Viograph, M. Urban, assistait mardi soir à cette représentation, et qu'il se propose de prendre demain jeudi la course de la Petite Gironde et la course de taureaux des arènes de la rue de la Benate [sic], dont les reproductions feront partie, la semaine prochaine, du spectacle du Royal Viograph au Théâtre des Arts.
Jeudi 24 mai, matinée à trois heures. Tous les soirs, représentation â huit heures et demie.


La Petite Gironde, Bordeaux, jeudi 24 mai 1900, p. 3.

Charles Urban donne une interview au journaliste de The Era, en décembre 1900. Il décrit son entreprise et sa dimension internationale :

Yes, ours is an extending business. Besides this London office we have works at Brighton, Foot's Cray, in Kent, and at Tottenham, where all the chief manufacturing of machines and films is carried on. We employ a large force of expert helpers-the majority of whom have been trained in our own factories. We have an extensive office in New York, and other branches at Berlin, Melbourne, and Barbadoes, while agents who deal largely in our specialities are located all over the world, and particularly throughout India, America, and Australia, and the Continent. We were the original introducers to Europe of Edison's Kinetoscope, and we are the inventors of the Bioscope-that, of course, is the great feature of our business. Over 600 exhibitors have the Bioscope, while there are at least 3,000 private  customers on our lists. The Bioscope is the machine used at the leading halls and amusement resorts all over the world, but in many instances the exhibitors prefer to call it by a distinctive name of their own invention to distinguish their exhibition from all others.


The Era, Londres, samedi 1er décembre 1900, p. 22.

La société se développe encore et ouvre sa succursale à Paris, en novembre 1902 comme l'indique Charles Urban :

In paris, I should tell you, we have an office, which was opened in November last, where I have the full control of all the Warwick Trading Company's products.


The Era, Londres, samedi 2 mai 1903, p. 21.

Elle est dirigée par un proche collaborateur George-H. Rogers. Cependant, dans les mois qui suivent la situation se dégrade entre Charles Urban et les autres responsables de la Warwick Trading Company Dès le 28 février 1903, il quitte son ancienne entreprise.

La Charles Urban Trading Company (avril 1903-1906)

À peine quelques semaines plus tard, on trouve dans la presse une annonce de la Charles Urban Trading Company.

urban 1903 04
The Era, Londres, samedi 4 avril 1903, p. 33.

Pourquoi Charles Urban a-t-il ainsi quitté la société qu'il avait fondée ? On ne dispose que de rares informations. Dans ses mémoires, il n'évoque pas la question, et il faut attendre le mois de mai pour avoir un début d'explication. Charles Urban justifie son départ en indiquant qu'il souhaite s'engager dans de nouveaux projets cinématographiques de nature plus scientifique :

THE CHARLES URBAN TRADING CO.
A CHAT WITH THE PROPRIETOR
Mr Urban is a man of movement. His ideas are full of progress, and his intentions are most decidedly progressive. Although he has started on his own account at 48, Rupert-street, Shaftesbury-avenue, he has not altogether left the Warwick Trading Co., in which he still has a large interest. However, in his now departure Mr Urban has larger views of enterprise, and is developing a very admirable theory in the educational department of what can be achieved by the right and sensible uses of the Bioscope.
"The scheme is," says Mr. Urban, as he sits in his handsome, new, and well-appointed offices "to bring the cinématograph into practical service at schools and institutions. For instance, in sections we desire to show every movement of every action of every insect-fish, animal, and reptile-in order that the student, the boy at school, shall understand how these marvellous creatures have their being, what they do, and, if I may so put it, why they do it. There are the beasts of prey and the poor wretches they feed upon and try to exterminate. All have their uses, and it is not for us to question the wisdom or the unwisdom of creation. We are of it ourselves, and know not what it means. It is only left to us to wonder and surmise. Another point that I should like to have emphasised. Medical science progresses daily naturally, but when the Rontgen Rays were introduced a newer and a greater development was foreshadowed for the benefit of manking. Now, by the aid of the Cinématograph, every scene to those present in the crowded hall, the theatre of operations, can be exhibited to the young "sawbones," and every detail connected with the cutting -or shall we say surgical necessity?-of a patient, is reproduced so that the dullest person can understand what is being done or what has been done. This new invention of ours is intended to convey that knowledge of the physical form and frame, with its concomitant illnesses, weaknesses, ans strength, for the benefit of mankind at large. You follow me? We are not, in one sense of the word, philanthropists, but we do wish, on our journey to fame and fortune and so on, to do good on our path. You see, speaking from the medical point of view, we can, with the assistance of the Cinématograph and the microscope combined, show how the germs of disease can be traced. And when you can trace a disease you can generally arrest, if you cannot prevent it. But it is all getting on in the right direction."


The Era, Londres, samedi 2 mai 1903, p. 21.

Il est vrai, en effet, que la Charles Urban Trading Company va diversifier ses activités et que son catalogue -cas unique dans la production des origines- comporte de très nombreux films scientifiques et animaliers. Par ailleurs, dès sa création, la société constitue son répertoire non seulement à partir du fonds de la Warwick Trading Company dans lequel elle puise les films qu'elle souhaite continuer à commercialiser, mais grâce aussi à son exclusivité pour la production de la "Star" Films de Georges Méliès. À cela, il faut ajouter les contracts avec The Prestwich Manufacturing Company, les films Blair and Lumiere. Si de fait la société existe déjà dès l'hiver 1903, ce n'est que le 20 juillet de la même année qu'elle est réellement constituée. Charles Urban s'est entouré d'un certain nombre de collaborateurs qui occupent différentes fonctions de direction: Alfred Darlinlg, George Albert Smith et Thomas Knight Grant.

Pour les nouveautés propres à la nouvelle société, elles vont être annoncées dans les semaines suivantes dans The Era. Est également annoncée l'ouverture de la Charles Urban Trading Co. (Continental Branch) de Paris. En juillet, Charles Urban fait passer une mise au point dans The Era:

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT
I beg to notify you that the CHARLES URBAN TRADING COMPANY, LIMITED, has acquired the business lately carried on by me at 48, Rupert-street, London, W., as manufacturer and dealer in the latest and most efficient types of Cinématograph Apparatus, Accessories, and Photographic Film Subjects.
Having entered into an agreement with said Company to manage the business during as extended period, I bespeak, on behalf of the Charles Urban Trading Company, Limited, a continuance of your valued patronage, with my assurance that your demands will have every prompt attention and consideration.
New Inventions connected with Animated Photographs, Improving Types of Projections Machines, and Cameras, Arc Lamps, and Optical Systems are about to be placed on the market, and their nature will be shortly announced.
Over two hundred negatives of entirely new and unique series of Films have already been secured by our various staffs ofexpert photographers now operating in foreign climes.
Thinking you for put favours and hoping to be entrusted with your future commands,
Yours faithfully,
CHARLES URBAN.
48, Rupert-street, W. July 22d, 1903. 


The Era, Londres, samedi 25 juillet 1903, p. 29.

Grâce à ceux qui lui sont restés fidèles, il va pouvoir annoncer une liste de cinématographistes qui vont continuer à nourrir les nouveaux catalogues :

OUR STAFF OF PHOTOGRAPHIC EXPERTS.
M. J. ROSENTHAL (Photographer the famous South African War Series, China, Philippine. Egyptian, and Canadian Series & c.), now Operating in Canada and the United States of America.
M. F. ORMISTON SMITH (Photographer of wonderful Mont Blanc and Alpine Series), now Operating in and Conducting further Photo. Expedition, in Switzerland.
Mr H. M. LOMAS (who Photographed successfully the Exmoor Stag Hunt and other Sporting Series), now Conducting an Expedition into the Interior of Borneo.
H. RIDER NOBLE (the Photographer of the Morocco and other most successful series).
Mr. GEORGE MELIES (the Producer of " Trip to Moon,’' ”,Wonders of the Deep,” and the famous Star Film Series), now engaged in Producing further Subjects of Startling Nature.
Mr G. ALBERT SMITH (the Producer of Humorous and Pantomime Films—viz., “After Dark," "Seen Through Telescope,” “Mary Jane," &c.), now Engaged in Producing a Fine Series of New Pictures.
Mr F. MARTIN DUNCAN (the Naturalist, Microscopist, and Photographer), who, in co-operation with Mr. Urban, produced the wonderful "Unseen World" and Natural History Series, and is still turning out marvellous results of the Scientific order.
THESE MEN ARE THE PICK OF EXPERTS IN THE ANIMATED PICTURE BUSINESS OF THE WORLD, AND THEIR PAST ACCOMPLISHMENTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES.


The Era, Londres, samedi 19 septembre 1903, p. 34.

La personnalisation de la nouvelle entreprise est d'ailleurs une marque de fabrique. Ainsi, dès la fin de l'année 1904, surgit un nouveau concept baptisé du nom de "Urbanora". La relative nouveauté consiste en fait à faire, du cinématographe, un spectacle permanent qui a lieu à l'Alhambra comme on peut le comprendre à la lecture du suivant article: 

THE URBANORA.
A permanent Picture Show at the Alhambra
OF all the wonders of this age of wonders there is none that has so strongly arrested and retained the attention of the public as the cinematograph. And this is not surprising when we consider what an unlimited range of vision it has opened to us. In discussing the uses of the motorcar the other day, Mr. Henry Norman, M.P., said that the new traction had extended the daily radius of movement from about 15 to 20 miles (in the case of horse traction) to from 30 to 40. But this is a bagatelle compared with the extension of vision afforded by the cinematograph, which annihilates space and time and sets you up in a watch-tower where all the pageant of the world passes in quick review. You can be a privileged spectator at the most exclusive ceremonies ; you can, as it were, rub shoulders with kings and potentates ; you can follow the turmoil of battle almost at the cannon's mouth ; you can scale the highest mountains and shoot the most fearful rapids ; you can enjoy the everfresh panorama that is presented by a journey on a liner or across one of the great trans-continental railways ; you can see anything and everything of the passing show just as it appears to the actual vision—and all the while you have loll at ease in a comfortable seat for which you have paid what Mr. Montagu Tigg would have called " a ridiculously small sum."
The cinematograph has not been with us many years, but short as has been its life, its development has been very rapid. The early instances were very poor things ; the films were blurred and faint and otherwise imperfect, and the jumping of the pictures was very irritating. But science has been spurred to new achievement by the rewards that come from the favour of the public, and step by step the improvement of films and machines has been carried on, and the range and interest of the subjects varied till there seems little room for further development.
For a long time Mr. Charles Urban, the pioneer of animated photography in its modern and, a few years ago, undreamed of developments, has ben divided between discontent with certain conditions of cinematographic enterprise ; and the determination to reach a loftier plane, which they cannot affect. With the co-operation of the Alhambra directorate, he will now embark on an undertaking of the greatest magnitude and importance, namely, a permanent exhibition of animated photography---an exhibition of especial excellence, educational, for choice, in its objects. Mr. Urban's first requirement was a machine, if not perfect—and what inventor worth his salt would admit that last word-well, as near perfection as possible. This he has got. Next, he required a collection of films which should be exclusive to his firm—exclusive by reason of their originality in the first instance ; and maintained in their exclusiveness by every agency of law and commerce. These films will not go into the great trade catalogue of the firm—will not be sold to all comers and sundry, with the risk of immediate piracy. They will be shown at the Alhambra by the Urban Company. They will be shown in the country by the tried and trusted agents of the Company, and they will not be put on the open market till every vestige of their " exclusive " value has been worn to a rag. Thousands upon thousands of pounds have been invested on subjects -colonies explored, their beauties, their commerce, their human and animal life illustrated ; industries will be depicted —from pig-iron, say, to the ironclad ; every science illustrated. When Mr. Urban did his " Unseen World" series at the Alhambra, he was inundated with letters of praise, including the approval of distinguished scientists. But what he could do within the space of a variety " turn," and what he can do with the complete programme in his hand, are quite different matters. The proposed afternoon entertainments will be in two parts, one more and one less educational in character. By way of a division, a selected variety performance will intervene. It has been decided to call the new show the " Urbanora." The first programme, to be installed on Monday, January 2nd, will consist of " Wild Beasts, Birds, and Reptiles in Captivity " ; and " A Trip to New York on the Kaiser Wilhelm II" the fastest mail steamship afloat. Then after are promised "Denizens of the Deep," " Physical Phenomena," " Rambles Through Italy," " Dangers of Alpine Climbing," `' The Pleasure Garden of Europe," " With the Russian Army in Manchuria," " The Siege of Port Arthur," " Through Palestine and the Holy Land," " Along the Russo-Indian Frontier," and " The Armies of the World." Mr. Urban is enthusiastic about his project, as indeed he is about the cinematograph at large. To say that its wonders will never cease is trite. Mr. Urban declares that they have hardly begun. He means to put the cinematograph beside the shilling Shakespeare !


Music Hall and Theatre Review, Londres, vendredi 16 décembre 1904, p. 10.

 

 

CHAT WITH MR. CHARLES URBAN.
A book that should prove of immense service to showmen, music hall managers, and even householder who entertain on a large scale will shortly be by published by Mr. Charles Urban. It will deal with every aspect of the animated photography question. It will explain how to operate a bioscope machine, and it will afford adequate information to those who wish to make a business of cinematograph exhibitions as what official —County Council or Municipal—regulations have to conformed to. The price of the volume will one shilling, and we should judge that it will be a veritable cinematograph dictionary.
"Urbanora" is now a distinctive and welcome feature of the programme at the Alhambra, Leicester-square, and many other managers theatres of variety might, with advantage to themselves and their patrons, follow the example set by London's "home of ballet." "I warrant,” said Mr. Charles Urban in an interview with the writer, "that fully one-third of the people who to the Alhambra go to see the pictures. I think the provincial managers are ignoring a good opportunity in not running first-class cinematograph shows themselves. For a comparatively small sum of money "Urbanora" pictures can be shown at any provincial music hall, and for that small sum we would give the most up to-date pictures, as well an illustrations of local events on the same night as they occurred."
The Charles Urban Trading Company seems to have dealt with everything under the sun in their wonderful representations by animated photography. What more interesting to the entomologist than their series depicting the quaint denizens of the insect world? Here see the almost incredible feat of an ant bearing a globe 800 times as heavy as itself. Then, the beautiful sight of the birth of a butterfly -the pupa bursting, the wings growing and expanding from mere crumpled masses, and the butterfly finally opening its gorgeously-coloured wings ready to take flight. Next, visits to birdland. to beastland, and reptile-land-what a veritable Noah’s Ark in counterfeit presentment it is! Again, those who cannot afford the trip, what more attractive than the long panorama of scenes illustrative of the various phases on board an ocean liner on its voyage from Southampton to Buenos Ayres? Here we see the anchor being weighed, the ship passing the Needles, the change of the watch, five-o-clock tea on the promenade deck, a cricket match on the main deck, and the magnificent harbour of Rio de Janeiro, with the forts realistically firing a salute. Or, to stir the blood any perfervid Scot, we get a graphic portrayal of the splendid volunteer review at Edinburgh last September. Considering the interest which the public is at present taking in the forth-coming launch of the Dreadnought, the magnificent series of pictures showing the progress of a warship on "the stocks" is of special significance. And these are not all. Comedy and pathos, business and pleasure, wars and rumours of wars, demonstrations of peace, life in the Army, the Navy, the office, the workship, and the theatre all find a place in Mr. Urban’s wonderful gallery.
And how is this encyclopaedia of incidents compiled? Mr. Urban tells us (hat he has fourteen men in different countries. But, be it understood, before he sends any of his emissaries forth himself makes a careful study of all the information available as to the scenes of their future operations so to give them, as far as possible, explicit directions in regard to the phases of local life which he wishes depicted. So it is that we get these scenes from Greenland's icy mountains to India's coral strands. "The study of books on these various lands and peoples," remarked Mr. Urban, "is the most fascinating part of the work. Some of my plans? Well, I am sending an expedition into Bolivia. I am afraid my representatives will have an interesting if not an exciting time there, as some the native tribes have rather an evil reputation. Then I am going over the new Canadian-Pacific line, on which the journey to Yokohama is completed within twenty-four days. In regard to our Canadian pictures, Lord Strathcona said that they had done more for Canada than anything else."
It is anticipated that the Urban films may, at some future date, be used by the Board of Education for conveying to youthful o never-to-be-forgotten impressions of animal life and general geographical knowledge.
The realisation of the very great importance of teaching through the agency of the eye as well the ear has revolutionised educational methods and swept away the old dry-as-dust, pedantic ways of imparting knowledge for ever. In these days of keen competition and of competitive examinations it is of vital importance that the teacher shall not only thoroughly up-to-date in his methods, but that he shall be able to impart instruction in a way that will hold the attention of his students, and enable them to clearly grasp and remember the subject. This can only be successfully accomplished apt illustration. Every teacher, no matter what may be his subject, knows full well that the lecture or lesson that is demonstrated by a graphic series of illustrations or experiments is far more vividly and permanently impressed upon the minds of the students than a simple unillustrated oration. It is therefore imperative that the teacher shall have at his command some source from which he can obtain striking, truthful, and adequate illustrations for his work.
Photography is one of the greatest and most important factors in modern education. It is the magic carpet by means of which the teacher of geography can transport his or her students to the country forming the subject of the lesson or lecture, and show them the character of the country, its inhabitants and industries, its natural life, both animal and plant, and the habits and customs of the native races. By its aid Nature study may be carried on in the heart of the great city, and pupils learn to recognise the flowers of the field, the birds, animals, and insects that dwell in valley and woodland, and observe their habits. The most important advancement in photography as an aid to teaching is the successful application of cinematography to educational and scientific subjects by Mr. Charles Urban and Mr. F. Martin-Duncan. By means of the Urban-Duncan Micro Bioscope, a wonderful series of animated pictures of microscopic forms of life has been obtained. The entire life-history of many insects, the growth of plants, the characteristic habits movements of animals, birds, fish, and reptiles have all been cinematographed. and a unique and most remarkable educational series of animated pictures produced.
The educational series of animated pictures form an absolutely ideal means of illustrating lectures or lessons on natural science, zoology, botany, entomology, anthropology, geography. Nature study, the great industries of the world, etc., etc. They were the first to apply animated photography to the recording of living microscopic organisms, and the Urban-Duncan micro-bioscope films are in demand all over the world, and in daily use in all up-to-date educational centres. These films and slides have been specially prepared to meet the requirements of the Board of Education syllabus, educational and scientific establishments, lecturers, and teachers. They have received the highest commendation from Prof. Ray Lankester, F.R.S., director of the National History Museum; Sir H. Trueman Wood; Prof. H. E. Armstrong, Ph. D., LL.D., F.R.S.; Dr. Henry Woodward, F.R.S., F.Z.S.; and many other eminent scientific and educational authorities. The Urban Company have just produced a very perfect small projection outfit, suitable for use in private schools and small lecture halls, which they offer at a very reasonable price, to meet the requirements of teachers. They are prepared to make special and advantageous terms to schools, colleges, and institutes for the illustration of series of lectures on natural science, geographical, and kindred subjects.The Era, Londres, samedi 24 février 1906, p. 26.

urban charles 1906 affiche
The Era, Londres, samedi 24 février 1906, p. 26.

The Kinemacolor 

La réalisation matérielle du kinemacolor est confiée à Ernest Francis Moy:

In cinematograph apparatus manufacture three, at least, of the many Moy machines have definitely made history, these being the Kinemacolor camera and projector, and the Kineto projector. Kinemacolor,, the first commercial two-colour system, invented by George Albert Smith, and commercially exploited by Charles Urban, called for film being taken and shown at anything between thirty-two and forty pictures a second, a terrific speed for sexteen years ago, when the general rate for black and white when film was nearer fourteen pictures a second. Moys was called in to tackle the problem of building machinery which would stand up to the strain. He did it so well that at this very day some of the old kinemacolor projectors remain in use for ordinary film screening.


"Another Veteran Passes On. The Late Ernest F. Moy. A Pioneer Manufacturer", The Bioscope, 18 novembre 1926, p. 38.

naturalisation 1907

Recensement 1911 (London. St Margaret and St John).

Sources

MCKERNAN Luke, A Yank in Britain. The Lost Memoirs of Charles Urban, The Projection Box, 1999, 96 p.

URBAN Charles, The Cinematograph in Science and Education and Matters of State, Londres, Charles Urban Trading Company, 1907.

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1900

A Spanish Bull-Fight (Warwick)

1902

MONT BLANC AND THE ALPS CONQUERED BY THE BIOSCOPE

1903

Où s'arrêteront les merveilles de la cinématographie ?
Dans son laboratoire de Rupert Street, M. Charles Urban vient de cinématographier avec un grossissement de 800 la circulation du sang dans la patte d'une grenouille.
Le même savant a photographié le mouvement de la vie protoplasmique dans une algue de mer, à raison de seize photographie à la seconde.
Si on prolongeait cette expérience, on rendrait sensible à l'œil nu le mouvement de croissance d'une plante.Le Soleil, Paris, dimanche 12 juillet 1903, p. 1.

1905

Le Cinématographe et la Coupe L’information express et à outrance n’a pas perdu ses droits en la circonstance.
M. Charles Urban, après entente préalable avec l’A.C F. et la compagnie P.-L.-M.. a réussi à cinématographier, pour le théâtre de l’Alhambra de Londres, les principales phases de la course. Les pellicules reproduisant cette sensationnelle épreuve sont arrivées hier soir jeudi, par le train de 10 h. 45 à la gare de Charing Cross, à Londres, et à 11 heures, les spectateurs purent assister, en reproduction, à l'épreuve Internationale.
A Paris également, les spectateurs du Jardin de Paris ont pu, dès hier soir, assister aux diverses péripéties de la Coupe.
Un record. J.Les Sports, vendredi 7 juillet 1905, p. 1.

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