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British Industrial History

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Ernest Francis Moy

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Ernest Francis Moy (c.1869-1926)

of Greenland Place, Camden Town, London, NW1.

c.1885 Ernest Moy, age 16, was placed in charge of the lighting at London's Her Majesty's Theatre, one of the first electrically lighted theatres.

He quickly progressed within the industry and met another electrical engineer, Percy Henry Bastie.

1895 Moy and Bastie set up a public company, Ernest F. Moy Ltd, to manufacture electric fuses, switches and circuit-breakers. They were introduced to the newly emerging science of cinematography through a customer, Robert W. Paul.

1896 With Walter Bersey patented an electrical switch suitable for controlling electric motors in vehicles and for other purposes.

From 1897, Moy published various patents to produce cine items and the company began producing films on the flat roof of their London factory. The partners quickly formed a new company, the Cinematograph Co, to handle this side of their interests.

1900 Moy and Bastie launched their own film camera with daylight loading. The camera was soon competing with Williamson, Darling and Prestwich. One of their cameras was taken on Captain Robert Scott's Antarctic Expedition of 1905. Then, in 1909, the company began producing its most famous camera, a well-made and practical design described in their catalogue as 'Simple - Efficient - Reliable.' It was a professional hand crank 35mm motion picture camera in the English 'upright style'. The camera was constructed from mahogany and had two internal 400 foot film magazines. Focusing was achieved by viewing the image through the film via a tube from the rear. The camera utilized a unique film transport featuring the 'drunken screw' movement to achieve film pull-down.

The Moy and Bastie camera was well known for its impressive chain driven movement and brass gear wheels. The largest version had a price tag of £108, with an extra £5 for the Cooke lens. A 400ft external magazine, attached to the top of the camera, and a viewfinder mounted on the top right side were later additions to the original basic design. By 1911 Moy cameras were in constant use by British studios and topical film makers worldwide. It is said that the first picture shot in Hollywood was shot with a Moyer camera (also popularly known as 'Moy').


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Cinematographers