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The ingenious 1889 Kinesigraph patented and created by political activists Wordsworth Donisthorpe and William Carr Crofts and long since lost, is a physically impressive and technically unusual camera, and one of the first replicas to be completed and successfully tested.Ten images from frames of the original test film of 1889/1890 showing London’s Trafalgar Square survive. The camera design owes much to the wool-combing machines developed by the fathers of Donisthorpe and Crofts, as told in the book Industry, Liberty, and a Vision (1998), by Stephen Herbert. Very recent research has unveiled details of a correspondence concerning Wordsworth Donisthorpe’s attempts to obtain funding from one of his late father’s colleagues to develop the camera, including public suggestions of blackmail.The heavy weight of the film ‘shuttle’ that travels up and down was a limiting factor in the running speed, but a late description in one of the photographic magazines concerning the use of a mirror gave a clue that the camera may have been converted to run on its side, with the lens pointing upwards and a mirror at 45 degrees in front of the lens. This would have meant that the heavy shuttle was running to and fro rather than up and down, which would have helped to increase the frame rate.It has also recently been established that Donisthorpe applied for his first patent for a mechanical device in 1868, while still a philosophy student at Cambridge.


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1889 Donisthorpe film  Replica Camera Mechanism