Famille LATHAM

latham gray latham woodville latham otway

Gray Latham

(Shelbyville, 1867-New York, 1907)

Woodville Latham

(Hinds County, 1837-1911)

Otway Latham

(Shelbyville, 1868-1906)

Jean-Claude SEGUIN

1

George Woodville Latham (Culpeper, 21/01/1811-Lynchburg, 27/08/1881) épouse (Culpeper, 21/03/1833) Sarah Martha Bowen (Culpeper, 21/01/1817-Washington, 23/01/1899). Descendance:

  • Woodville Latham (Hinds County, Mississippi, 12/04/1837-Washington, 30/11/1911):
    • épouse (Baton Rouge, 05/10/1861) Elizabeth "Eliza" Walsh Trudeau (Hope Estate, 1835-St Louis, 08/02/1890). Descendance :
      • Percy Latham (Orange County, 25/01/1863-) épouse (Louisville, 20/06/1888) Jessis D. Mitchell
      • Gray Latham (Shelbyville, 25/04/1867-New York, 03/04/1907) épouse (17/10/1896; divorce: 25/03/1907) Rose O'Neill
      • Otway Latham (Shelbyville, 22/03/1868-10/08/1906) épouse (New York, 22/06/1896) Natalie Lockwood (New York, [1878]-Paris, 07/03/1907)
    • épouse (Maury Co, 06/01/1892) Mary Gordon Nicholson (Tennessee, 19/01/1843-Nashville, 18/10/1912).
  • Sarah Evelyn Latham (Virginie, [1841]-Washington, 31/05/1923)
  • Robert "Bob" E. Latham (Virginie 10/02/1842-Washington, 06/02/1920)
  • Charles Latham (Washington, 19/08/1844-Washington, 08/02/1897):
    • épouse (Danville, 18/05/1876) Kate Rice Miller (Virginia, 1855-Danville, 07/06/1878). Descendance:
      • Kate Miller Latham (Pittsylvania, 07/06/1877-Lottsburg, 17/06/1961).
    • épouse (Floyd, 21/02/1883) Mary E. Edwards Latham (Franklin, 23/09/1860- >1930). Descendance:
      • Mary E. Latham (>21/02/1883-<Virginie, 1888)
      • Ella O. Latham (Virginie, 14/02/1886-Alexandria, 15/03/1972)
  • Ella Gertrude Latham (District of Columbia, 02/03/1846-District of Columbia, 30/10/1928)
  • Ida Grey Latham (Washington, 10/04/1851-Newport, 03/05/1920) épouse Edward Newman (Lynchburg City, 17/07/1853-Newport News City, 14/01/1946)
  • Mary Louise Latham (Washington, 08/1859-Richmond, 22/09/1950) épouse (Lynchburg, 18/08/1880) Alexander Tinsley Abernathy (Richmond, 01/1852-Richmond, 18/12/1900). Descendance:
    • Katherine Kate W. Abernathy (Viiginie, 09/1881-Richmond, 16/12/1905)
    • Mary Alexander Abernathy (Virginie, 29/04/1886-Richmond, 20/11/1977)
    • Alexander Tinsley Abernathy (Virginia, 27/01/1897-Washington, 11/1979)

2

Woodville Latham Jr. appartient à une famille qui aurait eu une plantation de canne à sucre dans le Mississippi. Dans son enfance, sa  famille réside en Virginie (<1843), puis à Washington (>1843). Il fait des études qui le conduisent à entrer à l'université de Virginie (University of Virginia) où il est  lauréat, en juin 1857, en latin, en allemand et en mathématiques. En 1861, il intègre une compagnie d'artillerie légère de l'Armée des États Confédérés. Après la défaite de l'Armée des États Confédérés, Woodville Jr, signe, le 5 mai 1865, sa "parole of honor" de ne plus participer dans une armée rebelle..

À partir de 1867, au moins, il entame une carrière d'enseignant et, parfois, de responsable d'établissement scolaire. Installé à Shelbyville, Il est engagé comme professeur de mathématiques et de science physique, à la rentrée 1868, au Kentucky Female College. Ses deux fils, Gray et Otway naissent à Shelbyville. Au cours de l'année 1872-1873, on le retrouve directeur de la high school de Princess Anne (Maryland):

Princess Anne, July 2, 1873
The resignation of the position of principal in the high school here by Mr. Woodville Latham Jr., is a source of deep regret to all. Durint his short stay in our midst his qualities as man and teacher have won for him the warmest regret of many, the good-will of all.


The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Friday, July 4, 1873, p. 4.

Peu après, vers 1877, il se trouve à Lynchburg où il est directeur du Lynchburg High School jusqu'en 1879, avant de rejoindre la West Virginia University:

Capt. G. Woodville Latham, late principal of the Lynchburg High School, bas been elected a Professor in the West Virginia University.


Shepherdstown register, Shepherstown, 3 Juillet 1880, p. 3.

Professeur dynamique, il crée la "School of Chemistry" (VIRGINIA, 1884: 61). Ses fils Percy et Gray figurent au nombre des étudiants, ainsi qu'Enoch J. Rector (VIRGINIA, 1885: 18). C'est alors qu'il enseigne l'agriculture, la physique et la chimie à la West Virginia University, que ses étudiants lancent une pétition dans laquelle ils indiquent que " Woodville Lutham, Jr., exerts a bad influence upon the students, and expresse it as our firm belief that the best interests of the University demand his removal. " L'affaire fait grand bruit et occupe plusieurs colonnes à la une de The Wheeling (Wheeling, 2 août 1884, p. 1). L'objet de la protestation porte, essentiellement, sur le prétendu goût immodéré de Woodville Latham pour la boisson et son comportement en général. Finalement, les autorités se bornent, après avoir entendu les parties, à lui faire une admonestation : "Mr. Bennett, then offered a resolution declaring the charges not sustained, but admonishing Mr. Latham to keep himself above suspicion hereafter, or in other words, "not to do it again."

morgantown university virginia

West Virginia University
VIRGINIA, 1884: 2

À la suite de ce scandale, Woodville Latham va postuler sur un poste à l'université du Mississippi:

A special meeting of the Board of Trustees of the University of Mississippi here to-day elected Prof. Woodville Latham of the University of West Virginia to the chair of chemistry, vacant by the resignation of Dr. Jones, and elected Miss Sallie Mc Gree Isom of Oxford, tutor in elocution.


Memphis Daily Appeal, Memphis, 3 septembre 1885, p. 1.

 Grâce à l'Historical Catalogue of the University of Mississippi, nous en savons un peu plus sur les années qu'il passe dans cet établissement :

Woodville Latham was elected professor in 1886 and six hours per week of laboratory work was added to the Senior year for B. S. students. In the year 1888 a fellowship in chemistry was established to encourage post-graduate work. The compensation was $300 per year, and the holder was required to spend part of his time as instructor.


HISTORIAL, 1910: 39.

Son fils Otway est également inscrit comme étudiant (HISTORIAL, 1910: 210)  Woodville Latham va rester à l'université du Mississippi jusqu'en 1889 (HISTORIAL, 1910: 87). Dans les années qui suivent, il se trouve à Saint-Louis où sa femme décède en 1890, puis à Chattanooga en 1892. Il est coauteur d'un brevet (Patent nº 481, 714, 30/08/1892) avec John F. Lang, James W. Roper et Enoch J. Rector pour un "Spring-Motor".

Le kinetoscope (1894)

L'invention d'Edison va attirer de nombreux acheteurs en quête de rapides bénéfices. C'est dès le mois de mai 1894 que l'un d'eux, Otway Latham, employé à The Tilden Company - une société essentiellement consacrée aux produits pharmaceutiques - s'adresse à l'inventeur de Menlo Park pour lui commander une dizaine de kinetoscopes.

latham otway edison 1894 01 latham otway edison 1894 02
Otway Latham, À Latham, New York, 16 mai 1894  W. E. Gilmore, À Otway Latham, Orange, 19 mai 1894 
latham otway edison 1894 03 latham otway edison 1894 04
Laboratory of Thomas A. Edison, À Otway Latham, Orange, 18 août 1894 Otway Latham, Transfert à la Kinetoscope Exhibition Co., New York, 24 août 1894
[D9427]  Document File Series -- 1894: (D-94-27) Motion Pictures -- Kinetoscope Exhibiting Co
© The Thomas Edison Papers 

Dès lors, une correspondance nourrie est échangée entre Otway Latham, mais aussi Enoch J. Rector, et le "General Manager" W. E. Gilmore, et l'on peut suivre les différentes étapes de la négociation. Après une commande de dix kinetoscopes ("regular machines"), on passe à douze, en juillet, "special machines", puis à 72 "special" kinetoscopes, en août 1894. Le dernier courrier qui porte l'en-tête - lorsqu'ils en portent - de The Tilden Company date du 24 août 1894. À la même date Otway Latham transfère la totalité de ses droits à la Kinetoscope Exhibition Company qui vient de voir le jour et qui a installé six kinetoscopes au 83, Nassau Street. La première lettre conservée à porter l'en-tête de la nouvelle société date du 8 novembre 1894 et porte les noms des membres du bureau: Samuel J. Tilden (Président), Gray Latham (Vice-Président) et J. H. Cox (Trésorier). On peut s'étonner qu'Otway Latham soit relégué à une fonction secondaire alors que c'est lui qui a été le principal négociateur.

latham otway edison 1894 06

The Kinetoscope Exhibiting Co., En-tête de lettre, New York, 8 novembre 1894
[D9427]  Document File Series -- 1894: (D-94-27) Motion Pictures -- Kinetoscope Exhibiting Co
© The Thomas Edison Papers

D'ailleurs Gray Latham apparaît désormais comme la figure clé de la société. C'est lui qui va rentrer dans les négociations relatives au tournage d'une série de vues animées dont le sujet est la boxe. Il propose une offre de 50.000 dollars pour le tournage du combat entre les boxeurs James J. Corbett et Bob Fitzsimmons. Pourtant, les sportifs sont sous contrat au Florida Athletic club et ne peuvent accepter les propositions pourtant alléchantes de The Kinetoscope Exhibiting Co.

BEFORE THE KINETOSCOPE
An Offer of $50,000 for the Corbett-Fitzsimmons Contest.
NEW YORK, Oct. 29-.A letter was forwarded yesterday by Gray Latham, vice president of the Kinetoscope exhibitions company, to James J. Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons, offering them a purse of $50, 000 for the fight, which they want to take place in Mexico, where there will be no danger of official interference. The letter was as follows:
"While we have no desire to interfere in any way with the plans of the Florida Athletic club, before which institution you have agreed to fight for a purse of $41,0000, we are advised that many obstacles may be placed in the way of holding a fight of such importance in the Peninsula state.
"There is no definite information to this effect, but in case the Florida club should conclude to withdraw its bid we propose to make you an offer which will certainly demand consideration.
"Our offer is a plain one. The fight must be held in the morning, and in case the date selected should prove a cloudy day, we will ask for a postponement until a clear day. However, we will be able to name a date during the dry season which will answer our purpose, for in this season the odds are 50 to 1 that any day will be suitable.
“We want the fight before November 1, 1895, and will give $50,000 for it. The entire amount will be deposited in any bank agreed upon by you two months before the date set for the contest, or earlier if necessary, or we are willing to put the purse in the hands of Mr. Philip J. Dwyer instead of placing it in the bank, if that should be agreeable.
“We are enabled to offer this amount of money without depending upon the gate receipts, because while a good many tickets of admission will be sold, that is entirely an after consideration with us. Further than this, we are assured that a goodly amount of money will be subscribed by merchants near the spot which we have selected as the battle ground.
“GRAY LATHAM, vice President.”
What Corbett Has to Say.
KANSAS CITY. Mo., Oct. 29.-Champion Corbett, on reading the above proposition, said that while the offer of the Kinetoscope company was a very good one it could not be considered at this time, as Fitzsimmons and he were under contract to the Florida Athletic club to fight in its arena and until it was demonstrated that the fight could not be pulled off successfully in Florida it would be unbusiness-like to figure on a match elsewhere.


The Jewell County Monitor, Mankato, Wednesday 31 October 1894, p. 2.

Toutefois, de nouvelles tentatives sont faites pour que le combat puisse malgré tout avoir lieu, en l'organisant au Mexique. L'écho de ces propositions et leur échec va intéresser d'autres boxeurs comme John L. Sullivan qui est disposé à se laisser filmer :

John L. Sullivan would like to box for the kinetoscope, so that future generations may see him in the ring as well as Corbett. His manager had a talk in this city this week with Gray Latham, the vice president of the company in regard to the matter, but the propositions made by the ex champion’s manager were not satisfactory. He wanted the company to give Sullivan $2500 and then offer a $5000 purse for a limited round bout between him and Peter Maher.


The Boston Globe, Boston, Saturday 3 November 1894, p. 7.

L'échec n'est que temporel puisque, en 1897, le combat (The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight) sera finalement tourné... mais par Enoch J. Rector

Le pantoptikon et l'eidoloscope (1894-1896)

C'est vers l'automne 1894 que les frères Latham commencent à s'interroger sur la possibilité de projeter les images du kinétoscope pour un public de plusieurs personnes. Ils en parlent à leur père Woodville Latham comme il le raconte lui-même :

Two of my sons were engaged at 83 Nassau street in the business of exhibiting pictures by the use of the Edison Kinetoscope. A day or so after they began the exhibitions, one of my sons came to me and asked if I could not devise a machine in his hearing had expressed a wish that something of that sort might be done, and subsequently I heard from spectators myself, similar expressions. I said to my son that I had not the slightest doubt of my ability to do what he had suggested, and I immediately began to consider plans for the construction of such apparatus.


Woodville Latham, testimony, 4 December 1897. Cité dans MUSSER, 1990: 91-92. 

L'interview que donne Otway Latham au journaliste du Boston Globe, en juin 1896, permet de mieux comprendre l'évolution qui se produit entre la collaboration avec Edison et la décision de prendre son indépendance :

"The history of the eidoloscope Is wonderful," began Mr Latham; and I hope I may be pardoned if I correct a false impression when I say that it was the first to show on a screen life-size figures in motion. For instance. the eidoloscope was first shown in Chicago at the Schiller theater a year ago, when we gave scenes on a curtain 25 feet square-and filled the curtain.
"To get at the way the eidoloscope came about I must explain that my father, Woodville Latham, has devoted his life to the science of optics and physics. He taught physics and chemistry at the university of West Virginia, and was state chemist. He was later appointed professor of chemistry, in place of Dr Mallett, resigned. My brother Gray and I had made a contract with Edison for exclusive rights to the kinetoscope, and suggested to him a plan by which he could make a kinetoscope picture that would last a minute. instead of giving those unsatisfactory glimpses. We paid for the experiment and were successful. Then we tried to get Edison to make a machine that would throw a picture on a screen, so that an entire audience might enjoy the sight at once. Edison told us it was impossible: said that the films would not stand the heat. 
"When he gave It up, knowing that my father was familiar with the science of optics and a thorough machinist as well, I asked him to come to New York and aid in making a machine that would carry out the idea I had suggested to Edison. The first obstacle, was a machine to take the photographs. In 18 months we had a machine that would not only take irstantaneous continuous photographs for 20 minutes, but for 20 hours if necessary. It was only a matter of the film. Our photographing machine is supplied with a specially prepared film. You can see that it must be very sensitive when I tell you that each picture on a strip of film which contains thousands of pictures to make up one single scene on the canvas is taken with an exposure of 1-500th of a second. The perfection we have attained in this photographing machine is realized from the fact that we took our celebrated bull fight, which lasts 20 minutes, in a hard rainstorm, and, of course, on a cloud day. We have also taken pictures in a room darkened from the light of the sun and illuminated only by an arc light. We could photograph a whole play with the ordinary lights of the stage with perfect results.”...


The Boston Globe, Boston, Thurday, Jun 25, 1896, p. 7.

Les nouvelles ambitions de la famille Latham les conduisent à contacter d'autres collaborateurs. C'est grâce à W.K.L. Dickson, qui travaille chez Edison, que les Latham rencontrent Eugène Lauste, qui a été employé chez le génie de Menlo Park jusqu'en mars 1892, fin septembre ou début octobre 1894. L'automne 1894 est ainsi consacré à la mise au point d'un appareil de projection et des expériences sont conduites:

[...] to determine the intensity of light the projection of pictures of movement required and what were the best forms of condenser to be employed, as well as what objective would be most suitable for the purpose in view.


Woodville Latham, testimony, 4 December 1897. Cité dans MUSSER, 1990: 93.

Parallèlement aux différentes tentatives pour construire un premier prototype, les Latham vont fonder une nouvelle société, la Lambda Company, au début de l'hiver. L'équipe est resserrée davantage encore sur la famille et les proches sans doute pour mieux contrôler les affaires:

LAMBDA COMPANY CHARTERED
Judge Wellford, of the City Circuit Court, yesterday granted a charter to the Lambda Company, the object of which is to engage in the manufacturing business, and especially in the manufacture of instruments for taking photographs of moving objects, and to manufacture machinery and such things as may be necessary for exhibiting photographs on scenes, and to make public exhibitions of such photographs. The capital stock of the company is to be $500,000, to be divided into shares of $100 each. The amount of land held shall not exceed 100 acres. The principal office is to be in Richmond, and branch offices wherever necessary. The officers for the first year are Gray Latham, president; Otway Latham, vice-president; Woodville Latham, secretary and treasurer. Directors-Woodville, Gray Latham, Otway Latham, Valery Tendean [...], J. M. Billings, W. L. Voight, and Dr. J. W. Prendergast. All of the above are from the cities of New York, Nashville, and Cincinnati.


Richmond Dispatch, Richmond, Saturday, 29 Dec. 1894, p. 2.

Dès lors, les Latham semblent se désintéresser de la première société The Kinetoscope Exhibiting Co, puisque les échanges avec la maison Edison ne portent plus leur signature. Il apparaît d'ailleurs qu'un différend ait opposé les Latham et Samuel J. Tilden. 

L'idée première est de trouver un projecteur pouvant utiliser les films qui passent dans le kinétoscope. Eugène Lauste s’attelle à la tâche, sans beaucoup de succès:

Latham n'avait, lui-même, aucun génie de la mécanique. Il avait seulement une légère idée des problèmes mécaniques et optiques nécessaires à la construction d'une caméra de photos animées ou d'un projecteur. Il s'en rapportait à Lauste pour mener à bien les travaux d'essai en cours [...].
Le Panoptikon, un projecteur conçu pour projeter des films de largeur usuelle (standard), construit par Lauste, malgré ses objections, d’après des plans que Latham lui avait soumis, ne fonctionna jamais.
CRAWFORD, 1930: 26.

C'est donc vers un nouvel appareil que s'orientent les recherches de Lauste. Dans le témoignage conservé, ce dernier explique tout le processus d'élaboration des différents éléments du projecteur et de la caméra, et éclaire en outre les relations qui existent entre les différents partenaires de l'entreprise :

Before began the work, a new meeting took place at their Hotel, for establish a program on what to be decided for the first step. I suggest that before starting on the camera it will be advisable to make a rough projector for experimenting with the Kinetoscope films, which was accepted, and then after, a new one to be built on the same principle as the camera with a device of stop motion. As the first machine was mode, and demonstrate sufficiently the possibility of projecting motion picture on the screen, I began to work on the second one which was more complicated according to the sloping device. It seems to me that Messrs Latham, was not very anxious to hove the projector completed as the camera was more important to them, so I said that I would stop the projector, and start the camera. Everything was going satisfactory as the result of the apparatus, when a little trouble come out, which was the stop motion I had in mind several ways to do it, but our plant was not sufficiently equipped for such line work. So we decide to have it done outside of our workshop. I found amongst several catalogues, one from the Boston Gear Work, in which I notice a sort of internal stop motion gear which was ordered on my instruction, unfortunately the size of it was too large and not suitable for my camera, considering the case, Mr Otway call on Mr W.K.L Dickson, and try to get some ideas for making a stop motion. As Mr Dickson was still with Mr Edison, he had no intention to help Messrs Latham their invention' in any ways, I think to keep his friendship with Messrs Latham, he simply suggested to them to use on escapement similar to those used in the watch, and then he make a little sketch to show how it look. Mr Otway ask me my opinion and what I think of the idea, which I said, No good, too delicate. Of course they trust more Mr Dickson than of me, I was asked to make one and see what would be the result, which naturally was o failure, and prove that I was right.


Crawford, MOMA. Lauste's comments on Terry Ramsaye's A Million and One Nights, 1 February 1927. Cité dans SPEHR, 1999: 24.

frankfort street latham pantoptikon 1895 01
It was at this location, Number 35 Frankfort Street, New York City -now a vacant lot- that Woodville Latham built his first projector. Here, in April 1895, he gave an exhibition of his device, called the "Pantoptikon".
RAMSAYE, 1922/05: 33
This is Woodville Latham's projection machine. The picture is of the third which he manufactured at 101 Beekman Street
RAMSAYE, 1922/05: 34
latham frankfort 01
L'atelier de Latham, au 35, de la rue de Francfort, New York, où fut construit l'Eidoloscope. LAUSTE se tiene debout au centre
(Cliché Cinéma, mai 1930)

Contrairement au format des films pour kinétoscope (35 mm), les bandes prévues pour l'appareil de Latham ont une largeur de 50,8 mm (2 pouces). Après le premier essai du 26 février 1895, c'est donc finalement  le 1er mars que l'appareil est installé sur le toit du Scott Building, 35 Frankfort Street et où différents membres de l'équipe se retrouvent devant la caméra tenue par Otway Lathman:

... I remember we take a picture of an incandescent lamp in February about the 26th; but when the camera is finished you have to wait for the film because Mr Latham gave the order in February, but between the camera's finishing and the taking pictures I had to make a punching machine for perforating the film; as soon as we receive the film we punched the holes and we tried it
... We find some trouble with the stop motion; and we have to make another one, something similar to the Maltese cross; and when the camera was in good order again we took a picture on the roof, a short time after that, of Mr Latham, Mr Gray Latham, Mr Kleinert and myself and my son; and Mr Otway Latham operated the camera; at that time the camera worked in good order.


ENS, Lauste testimony in 191, Patents Co. v. IMP. (cité dans SPEHR Paul C. “Eugene Augustin Lauste: A Biographical Chronology.” Film History, vol. 11, no. 1, 1999, pp. 18–38. (JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3815254)

Il ne reste plus qu'à organiser une projection publique, ce qui est fait le 21 avril 1895. C'est le quotidien le New York Sun qui va donner le compte rendu le plus complet dans son édition du lendemain :

MAGIC LANTERN KINETOSCOPE:
Edison Says Latham's Device Is Old and Promises to Beat It.
An exhibition of what Edison considers a kinetoscope so arranged as to throw the pictures, enlarged, upon a screen was given yesterday afternoon at 35 Frankfort street by Woodville Latham. He calls his arrangement the Pantoptikon. The illustration gives a very good idea of what it looks like. The continuous film of photographic pictures with slots cut in the edges to catch the teeth of a sprocket that keeps it from slipping is reeled in front of the electric light of a sort of magic lantern, and so the pictures are thrown successively on the screen with sufficient rapidity to produce the well-known kinetoscope or zoetrope effect of animated pictures.
The pictures shown yesterday portrayed the antics of some boys at play in a park. They wrestled, jumped, fought, and tumbled over one another. Near where the boys were romping a man sat reading a paper and smoking a pipe. Even the puffs of smoke could be plainly seen, as could also the man's movements when he took a handkerchief from his pocket. The whole picture on the screen yesterday was about the size of a standard window sash, but the size is a matter of expense and adjustment. Mr. Latham's camera will take forty pictures a second, and it can be set up anywhere, in the street or on the top of a house.
Mr. Latham says that he will try to obtain a patent on his apparatus, which thus enables the exhibitor to show kinetoscope effects to a large audience at one time.
A SUN reporter saw Mr. Edison last evening and described the Latham machine to him. Hearing the description. Mr. Edison said:
"That is the kinetoscope. This strip of film with the pictures, which you have here, is made exactly as the film I use. The holes in it are for the spokes of the sprocket, which I devised.
"The throwing of the pictures on a screen was the very first thing I did with the kinetoscope. I didn't think much of that, because the pictures were crude, and there seemed to me to be no commercial value in that feature of the machine.
"In two or three months, however, we will have the klnetophone perfected, and then wo will show you screen pictures. The figures will be life size, and the sound of the voice can be heard as the movements of the figures are seen.
"If Mr. Latham can produce life-size pictures now, as we will do with the kinetophone, that's a different matter.
“When Latham says he can set up his kinetograph anywhere and take the pictures for his machine, he means that he has simply a portable kinetograph.
"We have had one of those for six months. The reason that our pictures all had to be taken here at first was that our kinetograph was unwieldy.
"If they exhibit this machine, improve on what I have done, and call it a kinetescope. that's all right. I will be glad of whatever improvements Mr. Latham may make.
"If they carry the machine around the country, calling it by some other name, that's a fraud. and I shall prosecute whoever does it. I’ve applied for patents long ago."


The Sun, New York, Monday, April 22, 1895, p. 2.

Outre qu'il est accompagné d'un dessin expliquant sommairement le principe de la projection, l'intérêt de l'article est double. D'une part, il rend compte de la vue représentant les Antics of Some Boys en décrivant, en particulier, la scène qui est projeté, tout en offrant quelques explications techniques. D'autre part, parce que le journal a envoyé l'un de ses journalistes afin de recueillir l'avis d'Edison lui-même sur la projection de vues animées en public. Autant dire que le savant ne voit pas d'un très bon œil l’initiative des Latham qui lui brûlent la politesse.

latham pantoptikon 1895

The Sun, New York, Monday, April 22, 1895, p. 2

La réussite de cette première tentative conduit les Latham et la Lambda Co à envisager une production de films. Le premier est un film de boxe dont est friand le public américain. L'échec temporaire rencontré avec James J. Corbett et Bob Fitzsimmons ne les décourage pas, et ils vont mettre en place, un autre combat entre Young Griffo (Albert Griffiths) et Charles Barnett sur le toit du Madison Square Garen. Le Griffo-Barnett Fight est ainsi le deuxième film qui va être présenté au public. Les Latham ne reculent pas devant les projets à sensation et ils envisagent ainsi de filmer l'exécution du condamné à mort Robert W. Buchanan :

IF MORTON IS WILLING
Buchanan’s Execution Will Be Recorded by an Eidoloscope
NEW YORK. June 2.-Woodville Latham, professor of chemistry at the University of West Virginia, has made an improvement on Edison’s kinetoscope. He takes pictures at the rate of forty a second and produces them in life size on a screen. Except that the scene takes place in absolute silence the reproduction is very lifelike. With this attachment Professor Latham has reproduced a wink.
He also reproduced a round of a prize fight lasting twelve minutes, which needs only a little prize fight slang scattered through the atmosphere to make an exact reproduction of the real.
With a view of having a moving and speaking picture of this father in years to come, C. B. Jefferson, son of Joseph Jefferson, has been in correspondence with the Lathams. He desires to have an act of “The Rivals” or “Rip Van Winkle” reproduced, with the phonograph attachment. It can be done easily, the Lathams say.
Even the slightest motion can be reproduced. The act of snapping the finger can be photographed four times. Otway Latham has a scene in which a man is smoking a pipe. The smoke from it can be seen on the canvas. A photographer was out one day recently with a street piano player for the purpose of catching children dancing to the music. That will be reproduced.
An effort will be made to reproduce the execution of Buchanan, if he is executed, for scientific purposes. It has been ascertained that there are no legal obstacles in the way, but whether Governor Morton will give his consent is not yet known. Much advantage is claimed for the eidoloscope in scientific work. In political work it should do wonders, for it might present some leaders as they really are, and not as they seem to be.


Boston Post, Boston, Monday 3 June 1895, p. 8.

Aucune trace de ce tournage annoncé, sans doute le gouverneur Morton a-t-il considéré que l'exécution d'un condamné à mort n'était pas un sujet pour l'eidoloscope. Les Latham, en tout état de cause, sont davantage concentrés sur le monde de la boxe comme en témoigne ce nouvel entrefilet :

The Sweatnam Benefit.-The eidoloscope, with life-size reproductions of dancing girls, boxing bouts, and other animate features, will be one of the features of the benefit to Willis P. Sweatnam at the Herald Square Theatre to-night. Players who are pledged to appear are Wilton Lackaye, Maurice Barrymore, E. J. Henley, Hallen and Hart, Ward and Vokes, John C. Rice, David Warfield, John E. Henshaw, William Cameron, Julius Witmark, Richard Carroll, Mathilde Cottrelly, Sallie Cohen, Bonnie Thornton, Grace Golden, Bertha Waring, Etta Berger, and Belen Bertram Henley.


The New York Times, New York, 22 June 1895, p. 13.  

Au cours de l'été, il est à nouveau question du combat entre Corbett et Fitzsimmons, un véritable serpent de mer où les intérêts financiers et les cachets des boxeurs occupent plus de place que les remarques sur le noble art.

Après avoir présenté l'eidoloscope à New York, Otway Lathman - mais aussi peut-être son père et son frère - va participer à l'installation de l'appareil dans différentes villesChicago (juillet-septembre-octobre-novembre 1895), Atlanta (septembre 1895), Philadelphie (novembre 1895), Lynchburg (29 novembre 1895), Detroit (décembre 1895), Rochester (janvier-février 1896)...

En février 1896, une nouvelle société est fondée, la Eidoloscope Company où ne figure qu'Otway Latham comme membre de la famille :

EIDOLOSCOPE COMPANY, engaging generally in a manufacturing business, especially in appliances involving electricity and pertaining to photography; principal office, Jersey City, New Jersey; charter issued, February 8, 1896; expires February 1.1946; corporators. Philip Bayard Veiller, Otway Lotham, Osgood Smith, of New York. N. Y.; William T. Jenkins, Smithfield, N. Y.; William F. Kip, New York, N. Y.; capital subscribed, $1,000,00; amount paid in, $100,00; capital authorized, $1,300,00.00; par value shares, $100.00.


Acts passed by the Legislature of West Virginia at its Twenty-third Regular Session, Charleston, Will E. Forsyth, Public Printer, 1897, "Corporations", p. 28. 

L'absence de Woodville et de Gray Latham semble bien indiquer que des tensions existent au sein de la famille puisque, par ailleurs, la Lambda Company reste en activité. Cela n'empêche par que des projections continuent à avoir lieu dans les mois qui suivent : Detroit (mai-juin 1896), Atlantic City (août 1896), Bridgeport (février 1897)...

Sans doute parce que le match entre les deux champions semblent repoussé aux calendes grecques, l'idée d'un autre combat se fait jour. Il s'agit cette fois de monter une affaire autour de Fitzsimmons et de Maher:

Some one has been industriously circulating stories to the effect that there is a photographic concern or some such private corporation behind Dan A. Stuart and his projected knuckle carnival at El Paso. Stuart denies this. He admits that he has closed a contract with the Eidoloscope Company, by which that concern is to have the exclusive right to photograph the fight between Maher and Fitzsimmons, and to exhibit it or burn it up, as the company elects, after the fight.


The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Sunday, 12 January 1896, p. 8.

Pourtant, et malgré les accords signés, le tournage du combat va se révéler un véritable fiasco à cause du temps déplorable qui ne permet pas de filmer les deux boxeurs. La presse se fait évidemment l'écho de cette déconvenue d'autant plus désolante que le match entre Corbett et Fitzsimmons est toujours remis à plus tard. Un article publié dans The Boston Globe permet d'avoir une idée précise des origines du projet et de son échec :

KINETOSCOPE PEOPLE'S DREAM.
They Saw a Fortune in the Big Fight, But Rain Spoiled Their Chances and They Will Have to Try Again.
The kinetoscope people, aided and abetted by the good people of El Paso, Tex, were primarily responsible for the Fitzsimmons-Maher fight, and had it not been for storm clouds Friday they would soon have been coining money at the rate of 50 cents per 95 seconds on each and every kinetoscope machine they could have put upon the market.
The story of how this all came about is interesting. Mr Tilden, the money end of the exhibiting trio. is a nephew of the late millionaire statesman, Samuel J. Tilden. E. J. Rector, the practical end, is an electrician of note, and was formerly with Latham Bros, who own the kinetoscope's sister-in-law, the eidoloscope. J. H. Cox is the business end, and completes the trinity. These gentlemen first ventured into the business of photographing pugilistic encounters through the medium of William A. Brady, the manager of James J. Corbett. That was two years ago, and it was Mr Brady's suggestion that pugilists be photographed in actual battle.
The business end of the three went to Mr Brady. and from Mr Brady to Martin Julian, Fitzsimmons' manager, and then he journeyed to Dallas. Tex, and saw Dan A. Stuart, and the result of it all was that a match was arranged between Corbett and Fitzsimmons. All the world knows the result of that affair. All the world doesn't know, however, that the kinetoscope people offered the two pugilists a $10,000 purse to fight in private and that Fitzsimmons refused.
Discouraged, but not disheartened, they determined on a big fight at any cost. They made Dan Stuart their manager, so far as the details of the match were to go, and they made him a very liberal offer provided the kinetoscope got in its line work. Mr Stuart was to receive 20 percent of the profits of every machine put upon the market. These machines were to be so constructed that five people could witness the contest at one time at a tariff of 10 cents per spectator. If it had not rained Friday the trio and Mr Stuart would have divided 50 cents for every 95 seconds from every machine they owned, and Mr Stuart, it is estimated, would have had an income from this source alone of not less than $25,000 per annum for the next two years.
The kinetoscope people were continually going into their pockets, from the moment Maher and Fitzsimmons and the lesser lights had signed articles of agreement. They had already expended over $12,000 on films and other paraphernalia, and then they were compelled to pay the fares and expenses of the two stars and the less prominent boxers, with their handlers, to El Paso and back.
The citizens of El Paso had raised $10,000 as a purse for the fighters. and it was Stuart's original plan to bring off the contest up in New Mexico, where a prize fighter was only liable for assault and battery. Then congress stepped in and Stuart had to change all his plans. The expense of hauling lumber to Langtry and other similar necessary details to the contest. compelled him to draw from the El Paso funds, and on Wednesday last the kinetoscope people had to put up $5000 to make good the purse for the big battle and to pay the $1000 forfeits to the little fighters.
So it is that after all this trouble and expense the company has gained nothing and has lost at least $25,000, and Dan Stuart must remain content without his expected annuity.


The Boston Globe, Boston, Monday, 24 February 1896, p. 7.

L'équipe qui est alors à El Paso va continuer sa route vers Mexico, ou tout au moins deux de ses membres, Gray Latham et Eugene Lauste. Il va s'agir de filmer une course de taureaux, spectacle qui rencontre la faveur d'une grande partie du public. Le tournage va s’étaler sur plusieurs jours - et deux arènes différentes - pour prendre fin le 25 mars. Le résultat sera un film, Bull Fight, d'une vingtaine de minutes. Gray Latham en profite pour tourner également une Passion Play, sans doute la première de l'histoire du cinéma, et Drill Engineer Corps, Mexican Army. Pour sa part, Otway Latham est parti aux chutes du Niagara où il prend quelques vues. La production reste limitée, mais elle se caractérise par la longueur des films qui atteignent souvent plusieurs minutes. Elle se prolonge au moins jusqu'à l'été 1896. Ce qui est sans doute le plus remarquable c'est la diffusion exceptionnelle de la Bull Fight qui va s'insérer dans les représentations de Carmen de Prosper Mérimée, oeuvre adaptée pour la scène et interprétée par la troupe conduite par l'actrice Rosabel Morrison.

morrison rosabel 

Rosabel Morrison in Carmen, The Kiss (1896)
© Library of Congress

Pourtant, les choses vont plutôt mal et, dès la fin juillet, la Eidoloscope Company se retrouve face à la justice :

BUSINESS TROUBLES
[...]
Eidoloscope Company.-Deputy Sheriff Lipsky has taken charge of the place of business of the Eidoloscope Company, at No. 101 Beekman street, on attachments in favor of Colin McLean for $1,200 and Edgar G. Frost for $18,795 on ten notes.


The New York Herald, Friday, July 31, 1896, p. 15.

Peu après, Philip Bayard Veiller, l'un des responsables de l'Eidoloscope Company doit rendre compte des appareils et des projections réalisées à plusieurs endroits  :

BUSINESS TROUBLES
Eidoloscope Company.-The Eidoloscope Company, of Nº101 Beekman and Nº 22 William streets, which was attached by the Sheriff a few days ago, made an assignment yesterday to Philip B. Veiller. The assignment includes eidoloscopes and exhibition films at Providence, R. I.; Atlantic City, Coney Island and in this city. Lindley Vinton is president.


New York Herald, New York, Sunday, August 2, 1896, p. 5.

La liquidation de la société a lieu en 1898 :

THE EIDOLOSCOPE COMPANY.—In pursuance of an order made by the Hon. William N. Cohen, a Justice of the Supreme Court ot the State of New York, on the 21st day of September, 1898, notice is hereby given to all creditors and persons having claims against THE EIDOLOSCOPE COMPANY, lately doing business in the City of New York, under said name, that they are required to present their claims, with the vouchers therefor, duly verified, to the subscriber, the duly appointed assignee ot the said Eidoloscope Company, for the benefit of their creditors, at the office of his attorney, George Putnam Smith, No. 115 Broadway, Borough of Manhattan, City of New York, on or before the first day of December. 1898.—Dated New York, September 23. 1898. PHILIP B. VEILLER,
Assignee.
GEORGE PUTNAM SMITH, Attorney for Assignee, 115 Broadway, Borough of Manhattan, New York City.
s23-law6wF.


The New York Times, New York, 7 octobre 1898, p. 11.

À partir du mois de mars 1897, l'eidoloscope disparaît de la presse - le nom continue de figurer parfois dans des articles, mais il n'est plus question de présentation de vues animées - marquant ainsi la fin de cette brève mais intense aventure. Seul Otway Latham va continuer, pour un temps, à s'intéresser aux "images animées" - et il va fonder une nouvelle société, The Animated Advertising Company (New York) :

NEW CORPORATION
Albany, N.Y., Sept. 21.-The Animated Advertising Company, of New York City, with a capital stock of $5,000 has filed a certificate of incorporation with the Secretary of State. The company proposes to give public exhibitions of animate and unanimate advertising. Its directors are Richard H. Gatling, Otway Latham and George M. Leventritt, of New York City.


The Standard Union, New York, Tuesday 21 September 1897, p. 3.

L'objet de la société est d'utiliser des "hommes-sandwichs" pour faire de la publicité animée :

A company has been incorporated recently which could only be a product of America at the end of the nineteenth century. It is called the Animated Advertising company. Its object is to provide suitable living persons to advertise objects for sale. The idea is borrowed from those unfortunate "human sandwiches" that parade the street with signboards on their bodies before and behind. The Animated Advertising company will furnish to order, for instance, a man with an artificial nose or a glass eye to show off the excellence of somebody's patent in these goods, or a man will promenade with a wooden leg to show how an individual can skip like a young lamb when provided with Blank's artificial limb contrivance. Fat men will be furnished to order to walk in front of restaurants or for a sufficient onsideration a skeleton dude will appear and march forward and back in ront of the office of the man whose pills are warranted to reduce obesity.


Logansport Pharos Tribune, Logansport, 29 September 1897, p. 20.

Mais nous sommes loin du cinématographe...

Les Latham vont s'éloigner du monde des images animées dans les années qui suivent... C'est du côté de leur vie privée qu'ils vont continuer à faire parler d'eux. Otway Latham, séparé de son épouse, décède en 1906 et sa femme, Natalie Lockwood, ouvre un studio à New York, sur la 42e  avenue où elle peint principalement des portraits. Par la suite, elle s'installe à Paris où elle connaît une certaine notoriété avant de se suicider en mars 1907. Quelques jours plus tard, c'est au tour de Gray Latham de disparaître.

lockwood natalie studio

Le studio de Nathalie Dole Latham (New York, 42e rue)
El Paso Herald, El Paso, Saturday 16 March 1907, p. 14.

Bibliographie

Catalogue West Virginia University, Wheeling, W. J. Johnston, Public Printer, 1880-1890. (disponible sur: https://archive.org/details/ungrad8090west?q=%22west+virginia+university%22+1884)

CRAWFORD Merritt, "Eugène-Augustin Lauste, Père du film sonore", Le Nouvel Art cinématographique, Brest, avril 1930.

HENDRICKS Gordon, The Kinetoscope, New York, Theodore Gau's Sons, 1966, 182 p.

Historical Catalogue University of Mississippi 1849-1909, Nashville, Marshall & Bruce Company, 1910 (disponible sur: https://archive.org/details/historicalcatalo00univ)

MUSSER Charles, The Emergence of cinema, The American Screen to 1907, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1990, 614 p.

RAMSAY Terry, "The Romantic History of the Motion Picture", Photoplay Magazine, janvier-juin 1922 (Disponible sur: https://archive.org/details/phojun22chic?q

SPEHR Paul C. “Eugene Augustin Lauste: A Biographical Chronology.” Film History, vol. 11, no. 1, 1999, pp. 18–38. (JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3815254)

SPEHR Paul, The Man Who Made Movies: W.K.L. Dickson, New Barnet, JL, 2008, 706 p.

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