movies, anyone?

Bell & Howell ad in
a 1954 LIFE magazine

Toronto. Continuing on with the LIFE and movies theme, Bell and Howell of Chicago was a respected professional movie equipment maker. They added a consumer line pre-war (Filmo). Post-war they dumbed down the consumer cameras and ads – the cameras were little more than the movie version of the ubiquitous box camera for stills.

As the frame frequency set the shutter speed, and films came in set ASA ratings, B&H touted the simplified dial on the front of their consumer cameras that adjusted the lens aperture to outdoor conditions – just like the little diagrams in the instruction sheets inserted in the film boxes of the day. No need to understand f/stops, just look at the sky and set the dial!

The original ad can be seen in the June 28th, 1954 issue of LIFE on page 2. Thanks to my friend Goldie for the idea and the ad.

By the way, most LIFE issues are readable on Google. LIFE magazine while AMERICAN centric in editorial content and advertisements, offers an intriguing look at how we were over a half century or more ago. Each issue I look at brings back memories. My barber Nels MaGee (when I was a kid) always seemed to have LIFE and Saturday Evening Post magazines scattered around for reading material while we waited for a Saturday hair cut.

Sadly the original B&H has faded to black. The vestiges of the company still exist today under a different name. B&H was sold many times and at one point its name was sold separately and often appears today on very cheap goods that do not reflect the quality or integrity that was once Bell & Howell.

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