Autochromes Lumière
The Monplaisir' factory > The History of the Company > 1892, The Société Anonyme, a Public Limited Company

Antoine Lumière & Sons, S.A., Photographic Plates and Papers (1892-1911)

The success and renown of the Lumière Company was largely due to the Étiquette Bleue plates' exceptional quality. As Louis Lumière later noted, "the Étiquette Bleue plates were more than a success, people just fell in love with them. In the first year we earned over 500,000 francs." But as a collective Antoine Lumière & Sons was not able to keep up with the demand, and so on the 2nd of May 1892, the Société anonyme des plaques et papiers photographiques Antoine Lumière et ses fils was created with a capital of 3 million francs. This was a significant sum for the time.

It seems to have been about 1898, at the turn of the century, that the Lumières were at the peak of their industrial power. In just a few years they had succeeded in creating the leading European photographic plate industry. Their manufacture was entirely French, and their suppliers were: les Verreries de la Gare in Aniche (Nord), Montgolfier papers in Annonay (Ardèche), Pont-Lignon (Haute-Loire), Charavines (Isère), the Société des produits chimiques de Fontaines-sur-Saône (Rhône). Thanks to an active policy of expansion, the Lumière Company gradually took control of the factories of their principle suppliers.

In November of 1906, a Crédit Lyonnais agent in charge of directing a financial report visited the site:
"Board of Directors: Mr. Antoine Lumière, president; Louis Lumière, secretary; Auguste Lumière, L. Pradel, F. Vial, V. Planchon, B.V. Vermorel.
NB: "The presidency of Mr. Antoine Lumière is purely nominal. From a financial point of view, the business is directed by the Banque privée de Lyon, for which the principle members of the Board of Directors are Mr. Vial and Mr. Pradel." Victor Planchon, for his part, was a manufacturer of cellulose and Vial was a manufacturer of chemical products. "The technical direction belongs to Mr. Auguste and Mr. Louis Lumière, who were engaged in 1892 for 15 years" (and so, until 1907). For the author of the declaration, though the Lumière brothers were skilful researchers and developers, "their financial knowledge is next to nothing."