It came as a surprise to discover an advertisement for a little known film format being shown in Brighton in 1896. Cinographoscope was the cumbersome name of a film system developed, like the Cinématographe, by two French brothers, Alexandre and Jules Pipon, manufacturers of photographic apparatus at 15 boulevard Saint-Denis in Paris. It was patented earlier in the year (2 March 1896) and had replaced the Lumière Cinématographe at the Olympia music hall in Paris from 23 July. How it differed from the Cinématographe or any other film technology of the time is not clear. However, it came to the Imperial Hotel in Brighton in late September 1896. R W Paul’s ‘celebrated Animatographe’ was just coming to the end of a successful three-month stint at the Victoria Hall on the seafront in Brighton. The Imperial Hotel was a small establishment just down the road from the station.
Although little seems to be known about the Cinographoscope, at least it is an identifiable film system. When the first film show began in Brighton at the Pandora Gallery on 25 March 1896, it was described as ‘the Cinématograph’ (with an accent but no final e). This was soon changed, in the advert for 4 April, to ‘the Cinématographe or Vitascope’. The former suggests Lumière but the latter is a puzzle. The projector known as the Vitascope, designed by Thomas Armat and produced by Edison, was not even shown to the press in the USA until that same date. No one seems to know who ran the shows at the Pandora Gallery, which may have been created and so named especially for the event. By the time R W Paul ran his Animatographe shows there three months later it was called the Victoria Hall. How ‘Vitascope’ came to be associated with it equally remains a mystery.