Guide to the Victor Animatograph Corporation Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1910-1967
Creator: Victor Animatograph Corporation
Extent: 15.00 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0153
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Alexander Victor, a central figure in the invention and marketing of 16mm film equipment for home and industrial use, formed the Victor Animatograph Company of Davenport, Iowa. Papers include records, correspondence, catalogs and clippings, photographs, negatives and scrapbooks.

Administrative Information

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in Series VII, Boxes 11-29 and Series IX, Scrapbooks; Film/Video in Series VI.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: Donated in part by Samuel G. Rose in the late 1960s.

Preferred Citation: Victor Animatograph Corporation Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

Biographical Note

Alexander F. Victor was born on June 20, 1878 in Bolläns, Sweden (Denham, 1). As the son of an army officer, he spent many of his early years traveling throughout Sweden. When he was 12, his family moved to Nassjo, where Victor met Solomon Andree and was introduced to physics. Victor excelled in physics where he failed in most other subjects (Denham, 1).

At the age of 15 Victor became an assistant editor for a local weekly newspaper. In 1894 Victor saw his first magic show. A few months later Victor ran into the same magician, "The Great Stephanio" and coerced him into hiring him. The next year, while traveling in Paris with Stephanio, Victor saw his first motion picture, and was enthralled. Motion pictures were incorporated into the magic show, and allowed the show to continue after Stephanio's death in 1895. Victor then traveled to India with the magic show, thus becoming the first to bring motion pictures to that country. Victor stayed in India for three years, becoming an accomplished magician (Denham, 3). Victor brought his show to America in 1900, and continued to work in show business until 1908 when a fire in a Toledo, Ohio warehouse destroyed all of his magical paraphernalia.

Victor then moved to Davenport, Iowa where he invented the first electric washing machine for the White Lily Company. His love for film also pushed him to invent an amateur Motion Picture Camera and Projector (also known as the Animatograph). Alexander F. Victor founded the Victor Animatograph Corporation in Davenport, Iowa in 1910, the same year he began his association with Samuel G. Rose. The world's first 16mm motion picture projector was manufactured by Victor Animatograph Company and sold to J.H.C. Petersen of Davenport, Iowa on September 1, 1923. This a point of some contention. It has been said that Eastman Kodak invented a 16 mm movie projector some two months earlier. Nevertheless, Victor believed that he was first. In The History and Origin of 16 Millimeter, a condensation of an address by Mr. Victor at ceremonies celebrating the 'coming of age' of the 16 millimeter industry in Davenport, Iowa on August 12, 1944, Victor states, In 1923 I designed and placed on the market the world's first 16 millimeter projectors and cameras. The Eastman Kodak Company made the world's first 16 millimeter film. Future research may resolve this question.

The Victor Animatograph Corporation consolidated with the Kalart Company of Plainville, Connecticut on May 31, 1957. Sam G. Rose continued to act as the president. The Victor Animatograph Corporation soon became a leader in the field of motion picture technology. Victor died on March 29, 1961, and in 1964 was named posthumously to the Society of Motion Picture Engineers Honor Roll.

The Ferd Haak Building, also known as the Victor Animatograph Co. was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Available at:

This biography is primarily based on the article by Edwin S. Denham, "Alexander F. Victor: Imagineer and Idea Man." 16mm Becomes of Age[i].

Content Description

The Victor Animatograph Collection contains print material and photographs related to the operation and products of the Victor Animatograph Corporation of Davenport, Iowa. Series I: Correspondence contains the correspondence of the past presidents of Victor Animatograph Corp., including Alexander F. Victor and Samuel G. Rose, along with a number of testimonial letters addressed to the company. Series II: Historical Information outlines the history of the company, its products, and its founder Alexander F. Victor. Series III: Administrative Information consists of some of the corporate records. Financial statements, stock information including the names of some of the investors, employee lists, organizations of the film industry, patent applications, and the contracts of Alexander Victor and Samuel Rose are also found here. Series IV: Print Material contains the print material that is related to the Victor Animatograph Corporation: journals written by the Victor Animatograph Co. and various film organizations, newspaper articles highlighting the history of the company, as well as foreign materials. Series V: Product Information includes information on many of the Victor products. Instructions on the use of 16mm film projectors, Victor catalogs, product information and price lists are also included. Series VI: Visual Material contains the visual materials of this collection; 17 stereotrope records comprise the bulk of this series. Series VII: Photographs contains photographs of the products and people of the Victor Animatograph Corporation; this is an extensive portion of the collection, housed in 19 boxes. Series VIII: Ephemera contains the ephemera of Samuel G. Rose.

Related Materials

8mm Forum:

Phil's Vintage Movie Films and Collectibles:

Magic Lantern Castle Museum:

Stereographic, Photographic, Research and Misc. Links:;

Rose, Samuel G. "Alexander F. Victor: Motion-Picture Pioneer". v.72 (August 1963), p. 614-21.

Victor Animatograph Company and the Genesis of the Non-Theatrical Film by David H. Shepard. Special Collections fHD9999 M66 V5

George Elmer Allan Lantern Slide Collection

Detailed Description of the Collection

Browse by Series:


This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Personal Names:
Victor, Alexander F., 1878-

Genre/Form of Materials:
Clippings (Information artifacts)
Photograph albums
Technical manuals
Trade catalogs

Film & Television Writing and Directing
Study of Theatre Arts and Popular Culture
Businessmen and Businesses