Autochromes Lumière

Manufacturing Plates for Colour Photography

In his 1906 report of the on-site visit, the Crédit Lyonnais agent noted:

"In summary, the Lumière Company currently possesses 5 factories, namely:
1. a large factory in Lyon-Monplaisir, manufacturing photographic plates and papers;
2. a small factory, recently constructed in the neighbourhood of the above mentioned, designed for the preparation of colour photographic plates, but which is not yet operational
3. two factories in Feyzin, manufacturing photographic film, cinematographic film and conducting trials of novel processes
4. a factory in Burlington (USA), manufacturing photographic plates designed to be sold in the United States.
... the only factories which produce a profit are the large factory in Montplaisir (photographic plates and papers) and the two factories in Feyzin."

In 1892, fifteen years before the creation of the Société anonyme des plaques et papiers photographiques Antoine Lumière et fils, there was only the Lyon-Monplaisir factory, which had been in continual operation since 1886, exclusively producing photographic plates and papers. In 1895, and for some years after, cinematographic cameras and rolls of film were added to this, and then in 1898, photographic film. In 1902, film production was moved to the Feyzin factory. By 1907, the Lumière Company abandoned their Cinématographe operation for good and turned exclusively to the production of photographic products. Others, such as Pathé or Gaumont, would be the true creators of the French cinematic industry. The moulin à images, as Louis Lumière called the Cinématographe, was not much more than a memory then. In the saga of the Lumière factories, cinema would in the end play only a modest role in the financial strength of the company. As for the Crédit Lyonnais agent, its manufacture was of "no interest." On the other hand, it has to be said that this invention contributed infinitely to the renown of the Lumières and their products.

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