The Mysterious Disappearance of Augustin Louis Le Prince - A Fascinating Episode in the Early History of Motion Pictures

If you're interested in the early days of motion pictures and love a good mystery, a September 19th, 1990 article in The New York Times by Glenn Myrent recounts the story of "lone inventor Augustin Le Prince [who] devised a motion picture camera and projector five years before the Lumiere brothers and six years before Edison" but whose name has been largely forgotten because he disappeared over the weekend of Sept. 14-15, 1890 - and was never heard from again.

The story of Augustin Le Prince's inventive genius and his strange unsolved disappearance is fascinating reading...

In September of 1890, "Le Prince was in Dijon, France, spending a weekend with his brother Albert before returning to New York, where his wife and children were organizing [at the Jumel Mansion in upper Manhattan] an ''animated pictures'' projections. On Monday, Sept. 16, 1890, Albert Le Prince [allegedly] placed Augustin on a train headed for Paris, where Augustin's good friend, a Lloyd's banker named Richard Wilson, was waiting for him at the Gare de Lyons. The train arrived in Paris, but Le Prince did not. The police scoured the countryside between Dijon and Paris but, to this day, not a trace of the inventor or his personal effects has been found. All that survive are two movie cameras and three strips of film, from his workshop in Leeds, England."

Here's one of those films, perhaps the oldest surviving celluloid motion picture, shot by Le Prince in the garden of the Whitley family's house in Oakwood Grange Road, Roundhay, a suburb of Leeds, Yorkshire, Great Britain possibly on October 14, 1888.

And here's another short film, of traffic on Leeds Bridge, also apparently shot late in 1888 by Le Prince.

Thanks to Tom Garrett for the link.

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