Archive of material regarding Auricon sound cameras belonging to Berndt-Bach co-founder Walter Bach, circa 1952-1968

Los Angeles: Berndt-Bach / Bach Auricon, Circa 1952-1968. A large archive of material regarding Auricon sound-on-film motion picture cameras, belonging to Berndt-Bach co-founder and Bach Auricon president, Walter Bach, circa 1952-1968. The majority of the archive, housed in an oversize generic black scrapbook binding, is from 1952, and is a substantial and diverse collection of Brendt-Bach material, much regarding Auricon's most popular camera, the Cine-Voice, and includes advertising proofs and original mock-ups, technical documents and manuals, business and advertising documents, photographs of Auricon cameras being used in film and television broadcasts (including photographs of Cecil B. DeMille on the set of the 1952 documentary "The Fallbrook Story"), as well as international newspaper and magazine articles. The archive also contains a collection of 40 borderless photographs, housed in a generic photo album, of the Bach Auricon booth, Auricon cameras, and personnel at the 1966 Photokina trade show in Cologne, Germany. Lastly, the archive includes an undated, 33 page, "Auricon Camera and Recorder Instruction" manual, circa early 1950s, housed in a labeled orange folder. Many of the documents in the archive include technical and descriptive annotations from Bach in holograph ink, marker, and pencil.

The first official Auricon sound-on-film camera, the S16MM SB-CT, was built in 1941 by engineers Eric Berndt and Walter Bach. Berndt had built his first sound-on-film camera in 1931, after leaving his job at RCA Photophone, and had been manufacturing sound cameras, recorders, and other motion picture equipment, including the first 16mm sound camera used for newsreel photography, throughout the 1930s with engineer John Maurer, as the Berndt-Mauer corporation in New York, before moving to Hollywood in 1939. In 1940 Berndt resigned from Berndt-Mauer and with Walter Bach formed Berndt-Bach, and began manufacturing early Auricon sound-on-film cameras, SSB-CT (1942) and CT-70 (1943). By 1952, the date of the bulk of this archive, Berndt-Bach was producing three models of Auricon optical sound cameras, the Cine-Voice (1949), the Pro 600 (1952), and the Super-1200 (1952), all represented in the archive. In 1955, Brendt-Bach developed their patented method for recording magnetic sound on "striped" film, Filmagnetic, and in 1958 Filmagnetic came factory equipped on the new Cine-Voice II. Following the resignation of Brendt in 1960, the company was renamed Bach Auricon, which continued to manufacture Auricon cameras until the end of the 1970s. By 1980, the advent of video tape and portable video cameras made the self blimped 16mm cameras obsolete, and the company ceased production. Independent filmmakers, however, continued to use Auricon cameras well into the 1990s, until the scarcity of magnetic striped film stock, discontinued by Eastman Kodak in 1992, made filming with Auricon's Filmagnetic cameras impractical, although Auricon's optical sound-on-film cameras are still in use by independent, experimental, and hobbyist filmmakers today.

The compact functionality of Auricon cameras, their ease of use in the field, and the film's relatively quick production turn around, was ideal for television news and documentary filmmakers, and by 1960 was a cornerstone of network news departments. Integral to the development of "direct cinema," Auricon cameras were popular among independent and experimental filmmakers of the 1960s, such as Albert Maysles, Jonas Mekas, Paul Morrissey, and Andy Warhol, who were drawn to the cameras' affordability, versatility, and ability to record long takes. Among the films shot using Auricon cameras are Warhol's seminal "Empire" (1964), Morrissey's "Flesh" (1968), John Waters' "Pink Flamingos" (1972), D.A. Pennebaker's "Monterey Pop" (1968), and Albert and David Maysles "Gimmie Shelter" (1970).

Archive materials housed in the oversize generic black scrapbook binding include: over 31 ad proofs, ten original ad mock-ups, 15 photographs (including six 8 x 10 inch photographs), eight of which are of Cecil B. DeMille on the set of the 1952 documentary of "The Fallbrook Story," for which Bach was cameraman, over 35 newspaper and magazine articles, over 35 newspapers and magazine ad clippings and flyers, over 20 magazines (some intact, some only retaining covers and pages containing relevant articles), technical documents, spec sheets, price lists, manuals and instructions, a parts blueprint, requisition sheets, order forms and requisition tags, business cards, employment ads, an invoice from the advertising agency Hixson and Jogensen, four fold-out mailer designs, a large Cine-Voice poster (22.5 x 16.5 inch), and other various announcements, programs, lists, and documents. One article, a New Yorker ad proof, and a partial magazine are laid in.

The 40 photographs of Bach Auricon at the October 1966 Photokina trade show in Cologne, Germany include two large photographs of the Bach Auricon booth with annotations in holograph ink, and 38 photographs which include the Bach Auricon booth, Walter Bach and other Bach Auricon personnel, Bach Auricon placards listing camera models, worldwide vendors, and noting Bach Auricon's 35th anniversary, and several photographs of Bach Auricon's latest camera, the CM-76 (a.c. power) and CM-78 (battery power). Many pages include tidy annotations in holograph white pencil noting personnel or events depicted, as well as a hand-drawn title on the first leaf in holograph white, red, and yellow pencil of "Photokina / October 1966 / Köln, Germany." Affixed to the recto of the front board with cello tape is the note "To Walter Bach / From Peter Waldeck / January 19, 1968."

The 33 page "Auricon Camera and Recorder Instructions" manual, entitled "How to use Your Auricon 16mm Sound-on-film Recording Equipment," with "Auricon Division / Berndt-Bach, Inc. / 7377 Beverly Blvd. / Los Angeles 36, California," on the title page, includes 20 pages of detailed instructions, three pages of illustrated diagrams, three pages of flow charts comparing single-system vs. double-system 16mm sound-on-film recording, three pages of circuit and electric diagrams, an illustrated page of battery instructions, and three pages of "Operation Troubles and Remedies." Two pages include annotations in holograph red and graphite pencil and ink.

Oversize generic black scrapbook, 14.25 x 17 inches, 96 pages, 13.5 x 16.5 inches, rectos only. Near Fine, with most documents neatly glued or stapled onto black pages. Documents Near Fine overall. Scrapbook binding, Very Good plus.

Photograph album, 14 x 11 inches, 24 leaves, with 15 photographs, two 11.5 x 7.75 inches, and thirteen 5.5 x 3.5 inches, one leaf with photographs on the recto and verso, others rectos only. Near Fine, with the two 11.5 x 7.75 inch photographs affixed with cello tape, all others using photo corners. Photo album, Very Good, with some rubbing and fraying to edges and corners.

"Auricon Camera and Recorder Instructions," 8.5 x 11 inches, 33 pages, six on recto and verso, 27 rectos only, in a 9 x 11.5 inch folder. Near Fine.


[Book #157711]