Query about Lumieres biz practices

Peter High peterbhigh2004 at yahoo.com
Fri May 27 06:26:52 EDT 2005

Right now I am doing some research on one of the pioneering figures of Japanese cinema, Kawaura Ken'ichi, founder and president of Yoshikawa Shoten (which began film promotion in mid-late 1897). According to legend he first came into possession of a Cinematograph in the spring of that year when an indirect acquaintance of his , Braccialini#12288;#65288;#65288;an Italian military advisor working in Japan), suddenly appeared at his office headquarters with several porters lugging the still-crated machine up the stairs.
In a recently (2004) published book,*NIHON NO KATSUDO SHASHIN*--in which film document archivist Honchi Haruhiko collects and edits most of Tanaka Jun'ichiro's previously unpublished essays, we find Tanaka quoting from an early memoire written by Nakagawa Keiji, who had been a benshi in the very early days of Yoshizawa Shoten. In the quote, Nakagawa asserts that Braccialini had "bought a Cinematographe directly from the Lumieres and brought it back with him [to Japan] when he returned from a holiday in France."
Here's my query: DID THE LUMIERES IN THE VERY EARLY DAYS ACTUALLY SELL THEIR CINEMATOGRAPHE OUTRIGHT? Up to now it has been my understanding that the L brothers were adamant about keeping control of the Cinematographe and that they passed it on to others only under a lease contract, in which they kept technical possesion of their machine. Such appears to have been the case of Inabata Katsutaro, who arrived in Japan in late February 1897 with his Cinematographe (accompanied by Lumieres company man Constant Jirel who, according to the contract, was to operate as technician-cum-"checker"). I also seem to remember that similar conditions (along with the sending of a Lumieres "checker) were imposed when promoters from other parts of the world got their Cinematographes.Since Braccialini  obtained his machine immediately after Inabata, it would make sense that he would have been given the same terms. 
Is there anyone on the list knowledgable enough about Lumieres business practices in the very early days to answer my query? Or could you point me to someone who does? The standard histories probably would not go into such minutiae as the circumstances under which the L brothers would grant exceptions to their own company rules...Then again I could be completely barking up the wrong tree and am mistaken about the rule itself. 
Despite it being a fairly minor detail, I need to grasp the situation in order to properly envision the very early days of film promotion in Japan for a book on the subject I am presently writing.
Peter B. High
Nagoya University

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