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from Grahame L. Newnham

Early Bingoscope Badge


Later (1936 onwards?) Bingoscope Badge


One of the many names seen on UK 1930s simple 9.5mm cine projectors is that of Bingoscope. We know these little machines were made in the UK as all are clearly marked 'Made In England'! I really must classify these projectors firmly in the 'toy' class - simple, almost crude design, no feed or take sprockets, pressed steel film gate, often non-opening, and poor optics with very low lighting level; but they were very low priced!

Being in the 'toy' classification, we are unlikely to find adverts or reviews in the 'home movie' magazines like the Amateur Cine World. (Although read further down the page to the possibly last projector (B.5 ?) marketed also as the 'Hunter' - which did get a review in the Home Movies & Home Talkies magazine - well there was a war on by then!)

The search for printed information has to widen to magazines aimed at the more sophisticated children with richer parents. Luckily the Meccano Magazine yields us a few adverts. These adverts tell us that the Bingoscope was distributed by Leon Rees & Co., 12 New Union Street, London EC2, UK. I have assumed that like many other British made toy cine projectors (Astor, Ray, Bing British) these were manufactured by Construments Ltd., 18 Grays Inn Road, London, UK, but would love further confirmation or othewise, of this.

Construments made other various optical based toys - no doubt one can spot other of their products on the internet - either for sale on ebay or on other hobby web-sites.

A variety of Bingoscope 9.5mm cine projectors turn up at film fairs, jumble sales and on the internet, but frustratingly, it is almost impossible to accurately define the actual models. Luckily thanks to one advert in the Meccano Magazine, we know that around 1936 / 1937 four models were catalogued in a Leon Rees advert - B.1; B.2; B.3; and B.4. From examples that turn up, most of the machines were supplied in a battery version and others designed to run from the electric mains supply, usually via a lethal dropper resistance! The battery versions can usually be spotted with spring clips inside the base to hold the appropriate torch battery, often the 4.5 volt 'flat' battery, which can still be sourced today. Lamps used were mostly simple torch MES bulbs, although I think the final Mk5 used the MES/E10 18/20 volt 9/10 watt lamp as used in the early 9.5mm Pathéscope 'Ace'.

Naturally I hope to update this article as further information and projector examples turn up. I would be really pleased if anyone can add extra information, scans, photographs etc. Please contact me Grahame Newnham at: presto @ (no spaces in actual email address)

Hamleys toy shop advert in the 'Meccano Magazine' December 1935

The first mention of a 9.5mm Bingoscope I have so far spotted is in the Mecccano Magazine dated December 1935 (just in time for those Christmas presents!). I am assuming as this model just has the earlier printed on Bingoscope logo, it may be the first effort - certainly the Hamleys advert above does say 'new'. Luckily the late Gerald McKee in his excellent book "The Home Cinema - Classic Home Movie Projectors 1922 - 1940" refers to this model as 'the original Bingoscope' so at least we agree on that! I have had examples both for mains use and with battery clips in the base.

Advert in the 'Meccano Magazine' December 1935

For some reason I seem to have called this model the C.1 - forget why! Anyhow below are some photos:-

original 9.5mm Bingoscope - C.1 maybe?

The mains dropper resistance is seen at the rear, fitted with a bayonet plug - many homes in the 1930s had no power points, just the lamp sockets! It was designed to only accept the 30ft or 60ft 9.5mm Pathé closed spools with take-up onto a fixed lower take-up spool (with clip-on side), hand-turned, a mains dropper resistance (approx 730 ohms on 240volt tapping) probably for 12 volt 0.3amp (4 watt) MES lamp, was that mains voltage tapping live?

This original model has a simple barrel shutter giving just the one obscuration as the film is moved, there is a twin claw. Not a very efficient optical system, hardly likely to give the performance we see in the advert above!

original 9.5mm Bingoscope - C.1 maybe?

The non-operating side photo shows the early Bingoscope logo on the side cover. And yes! - the vertical brass plate for the voltage selection is live to the mains!!

original 9.5mm Bingoscope - C.1 maybe?
side cover removed to show the nice gears - pity about the optics though!

Tiny 9.5mm Bingoscope B1

This tiny 9.5mm Bingoscope toy projector, is really small, you can guess the size because the 4.5volt 'flat' battery just fits in the base. It was intended for the litttle 8ft and 15ft 9.5mm film rolls sold as 'Bingoscope' - not enough room to fit cassettes or spools! Naturally quite a crude little projector, but no doubt it was also quite cheap! At least we know it is model B.1 because this is printed on the tiny box.

Bingoscope 9.5mm film boxes - just 8ft & 15ft rolls of 9.5mm film

The side of a 9.5mm Bingoscope projector box, frustratingly no model number!

9.5mm Bingoscope B3 ?

I have called this Bingoscope model B.3 - just a guess of course - do wish I had a catalogue or leaflet to identify this model. Certainly by this stage, they had moved onto a proper three bladed shutter and more efficient pull-down cam system. In fact a direct copy of the 9.5mm Pathéscope "Ace" mechanism! Much the same as the B.4 below, but a casting embellished with a 'B' instead of the vertical rod to suport the top part of the projector. This model takes the usual 30ft and 60ft closed cassettes of 9.5mm movie film with the film take-up in the lower part of the machine - hand turned of course. This model has a larger lamphouse.

The next 9.5mm Bingoscope cine projector we find in an advert is this shown below. I'm guessing from the November 1937 advert that this is the model B.4.

Advert in the 'Meccano Magazine' December 1936

Disney 9.5mm films certainly helped sell the product!

This new model could claim 'flickerless picture' because they had literally pinched the claw shutter design from the 9.5mm Pathéscope "Ace" cine projector - the three bladed shutter had unequal blades, giving about 63% light transmission, and it certainly reduced flicker! There was a twin claw. This machine was available in mains or battery versions. This model took the usual 30ft and 60ft closed cassettes of 9.5mm movie film.

Advert in the 'Meccano Magazine' November 1937

Advert in the 'Meccano Magazine' December 1938

The above adverts provide a list of the various models. Judging by the price and text, we can be sure this is the B.4 model. Not sure about the copywriter's use of the word 'brilliant flickerless pictures' but hey, no advertising standards or trades descriptions in those days!

The 9.5mm Bingoscope B.4 - battery version

The improved mechanism - copied from the Pathescope "Ace"!
Three bladed shutter, but not equal size blades.

Bingoscope C.4 - Meccano Magazine Dec 1939 advert

This smallish model was designed to accept the Pathéscope 9.5mm 30ft and 60ft 'open' film spools. The late Gerald McKee refers to it as the 'Mark 111' in his very useful reference book about Classic Home Movie projectors. Certainly this model also used a proper three bladed shutter and improved cam system for the claw movemnt - pinched from the 9.5mm Pathescope "Ace" design! Film take-up was at the rear of this model. The model C.4 was run off the mains electricity using a dropper resistance and E10/MES (miniature Edison screw) base lamp - I believe a .5amp 18volt 9watt bulb rather similar to that used then in the earlier 9.5mm Pathéscope "Ace" projector.

A Bingoscope , but also badged as "Hunter"

Possibly what was probably the last in the Bingoscope 9.5mm cine projector range, arrived in 1940. Moving a bit upmarket, this machine had fore and aft, feed and take-up spools mounted on a single arm, that accepted up to the '1 reel' 300ft 9.5mm film spools. Models were available as hand or motor driven. The motor was fitted inside the projector casing with a resistance operated motor speed control slider visible on the operating side of the base. A height adjustment screw is fitted at the front of the machine. The body is made of thinnish mazak castings - these still seem very stable on all the examples I have come across.

The projection lens is usually housed in a 15mm diameter black bakelite mount, some are aluminium type. I have yet to compare results! On the operating side, just behind the gate is a slide holding the condenser lens which can be removed for cleaning.

The photographic distributor R.F. Hunter marketed this as the 'Hunter' - an advert appeared in the "Home Movies and Home Talkies" magazine for July 1940 - see the advert above. I suppose there really was a dearth of new movie equipment in this war time period, so the magazine also published a proper test report in the same issue - see below.

"Home Movie and Home Talkies" magazine - July 1940

Adverts in the Amateur Cine World magazine - Sept-Nov 1945 and Jun-Aug 1946

Instruction sheet for the 9.5mm 'Hunter' - much the same as that for the 'Bingoscope' and 'Astor' labelled machines

The 'Hunter' was advertised again in 1945, then again in Jun-Aug 1946 and Sept-Nov 1946. I imagine with war-time restrictons easing, another batch was put into production. With the massive inflation, prices had virtually doubled. I can't currently spot any further adverts though.

Whilst the advertisement at the top of this section clearly states 'made exclusively for R.F. Hunter' - I have come across similar models badged 'Bingoscope' and also 'Astor 33' and 'Astor 22'. It is possible the 'Astor' versions were marketed after the war around 1947.

Instruction sheet for this last Bingoscope model - no type number

Probably the last Bingoscope model - this one hand-turned

Inside the 'works' with the side cover off - the 'Ace' type claw/shutter can be seen on the lhs
- room for the motor on the more expensive versions

Whilst the 'Hunter' usually has a rear fitted lamp - MES/E10 screw torch bulb type lamp - the same 18 volt 9 watt as the early Pathescope 'Ace' in a brown bakelite holder; some of the 'Bingoscope' and 'Astor' models I have come across, have a side mounted ASCC or BA15d car bulb type holder - double contact variety. Sadly so far I don't seem to have found any original lamps - the hole diameter doesn't allow access for the 21 watt 'flasher' type vehicle bulb, so I will try the best 'side-light' type bulb - a 10 watt variety. As seen from the photo above, the wire from the lampholder seems to get in the way, even though these models had an extended shaft on the drive handle - I have just fitted a thinner flex on my example - with power from a 12 volt 2 amp 'plug-in' type adaptor I hope to see the results when the postman arrives with suitable bulbs!

I have just tried the 'Bingoscope' fitted with one of the 6 volt 10 watt BA15d editor lamps on my sales lists - rather over-run voltage wise, but not a bad picture! In fact actually rock-steady despite a bit of flicker - and a still picture doesn't seem to 'fry'. I guess I had a picture just under a foot wide - tolerably bright and sharp - amazing, and the 6 volt lamp so far is surviving despite running on just under 12 volts!


Bingoscope picture - the poor focus is actually caused by my digital camera!


'Astor' 22 - 9.5mm Home Cinema - maybe later - 1947? - (same Hunter/Bingoscope design)

'Astor' 22 - motor driven - inching knob visible at the front

This motor driven 'Astor' 22 version has the MES/E10 lamp holder at the rear of the machine. The neat motor fits inside, with the pulley shaft passing through the front of the projector to provide an inching knob. Judging from the wiring, the motor is mains powered, fed via an adjustable speed resistance in the projector base. Maybe I'll give it a quick test (using a mains earth leakage trip adaptor!), befor popping the thing back upstairs on a dusty shelf again. The motor drive belt could be a problem to replace, probably loosen the main shaft adjusting screw and slip the belt over the end of the shaft.

Astor 22 - side cover off to show neat motor -
drive belt replacement needs some thought!

The same Astor 22 - bottom cover off to reveal motor speed resistance
- slider visible at bottom - same as that used on the lamp resistance box voltage setting

9.5mm Astor 33 - hand-turned with side fitted B15d bayonet base lamp

The 'Astor' versions of the Hunter/Bingoscope were labelled '22' and '33' - on my examples the '22' has the rear fitted MES/E10 lamp, and the '33' the side fitted, B15d bayonet lamp. I'm still hoping to find an advertisement somewhere for them! Like the 'Hunter', the 'Astor' instruction sheet has the Cinemaker Co. Ltd. Egerton Street Nottingham clearly printed, so maybe this company manufactured all or some of these last Bingoscope models? Oddly, the 'Bingoscope' instruction sheet doesn't mention the Cinemaker Co.Ltd.

9.5mm Astor 33 instruction sheet - much the same as that for the Hunter and Bingoscope!
(sorry this is scanned from a photocopy!)


1. If the 9.5mm film spools slip off their spindles on these machines if the spring retainer clips are missing or broken ,
a rubber (tap?) washer or grommet will slide nicely onto the shaft and help to keep the spool in place.
I have had to enlarge the hole on my latest 'test' one!

2. It may be worth hanging onto the mains dropper resistance box - with the resistance removed, there is
room for a smallish mains transformer to provide the supply for a modern lamp replacement.

Use the scrap dropper resistance box for a modern lamp power supply

3. Pipe cleaners are useful as a gate brush to clean the little film gate on these machines - they can still be obtained - usually from handicraft suppliers!

4. Currently I supply suitable spring take-up belts - see my sales lists. The 6 volt 10 watt BA15d bayonet lamp seems to work fine on machines with a 'car bulb' type lamp holder, I also have 12 volt 10 watt BA15/d bulbs - see my 'lamps sales list. Watch this space for possibly a useful MES/E10 screw fit lamp..... (07Aug2017)


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Created 31Jul2017 .......... Last updated: 11 August 2017 ........... 95gearbingoscope.htm ............ ©MMXV11 Grahame L. Newnham's Web Pages