Founded in 1896, Kinora Ltd. produced some of the first motion pictures in history. It converted the Lumière brothers’ Cinématographe into a home entertainment movie machine. Printed film reels could be purchased or rented, and personal “moving portraits” could be taken in a photographic studio. In 1908 the company also began offering a camera for amateur movie makers. The technology was short lived, however: Kinora ceased to produce its machines after its London factory burned in 1914.

The Getty Research Institute’s special collections house a Kinora viewer and six picture reels from about 1910. See the picture reels in action in the videos above: opening and closing of Tower Bridge, London; a lady and gent skating; girls punting; an elephant procession, Delhi Durbar, India; dancing; and boats at Henley on Thames, UK.

Kinora viewer and six reels in their original housings

Kinora viewer (center) with six picture reels in their original housings. Viewer: wood, tin, and glass, 27.4 x 17.5 x 31.3 cm. Reels: Gelatin silver prints, each 2.8 x 10.9 cm. The Getty Research Institute, 97.R.32

More to Explore

Optical Devices and Pre-Cinematic Collections at the Getty Research Institute collection overview

Kinora, ca. 1910 catalog record

Cinématographe Lumière video recreation of the Lumières’ device