Lubin’s Timeline

  • c. 1841 :: Siegmund Lubszynski born in Samter near Posen in the kingdom of Prussia (modern day Poland).
  • 1876 :: Emigrates to the United States.
  • 1882 :: Marries Annie Abrams.
  • 1883 :: Settles in Philadelphia.
  • 1885 :: Opens first optical shop at 237 N. 8th Street.
  • 1890 :: Moves shop to 21 S. 8th Street in heart of town. Begins making magic lantern slides.
  • 1893 :: Sees Muybridge’s Zoopraxiscope demonstrated at fair in Chicago.
  • 1895 :: Sees Jenkins/Armat Phantoscope in Atlanta and Philadelphia.
  • 1896 :: Purchases a Jenkins camera. Takes first moving pictures of his horse eating hay. Visits William Rock’s Vitascope theater in New Orleans.
  • 1897 :: Offers his first projectors–“Lubin’s Cineograph”–and cameras for sale. Begins making films on platform in his backyard. Creates “reproductions” of prize fights.
  • 1898 :: Sued by Thomas Edison for patent infringement. Appears in his own version of the Oberammergau Passion Play. Re-enacts battles of Spanish-American War in Fairmount Park.
  • 1899 :: Moves his studio to rooftop in Philadelphia’s tenderloin district, uses local “talent” to make films for “gentlemen’s smokers.” Opens first movie theater on the midway of a Philadelphia trade expo. Markets his machines, films and slides in Germany.
  • 1900 :: Receives patents on projectors, film, continues to defy Edison’s threats. Opens second seasonal movie theater in Chicago. Films hurricane damage in Galveston and Republican national convention in Philadelphia. Tries to promote home movies by offering “parlor” projectors.
  • 1901 :: Opens Theater at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. Moves his factory to Berlin to avoid legal prosecution by Edison.
  • 1902 :: Moves back to Philadelphia. Encloses rooftop studio in glass. Sued by Edison and American Mutoscope and Biograph for copyright infringment. Opens his first permanent movie theaters in Philadelphia and Baltimore.
  • 1903 :: Appears in his own version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Opens his first film exchange. Sued by Edison for patent violation.
  • 1904 :: Remakes Edison’s Great Train Robbery with his own cast. Opens more theaters in Philadelphia. Unsuccessfully attempts to market “sound” movies. Offers special “showman’s package” with everything needed to enter movie exhibition.
  • 1905 :: Business grows rapidly despite constant litigation.
  • 1906 :: Expands his chain of theaters. Has film exchanges in Philadelphia, Cincinnatti, and Norfolk.
  • 1907 :: Moves studio to “Lubin Building” in Philadelphia’s central business district. Opens more theaters in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Reading. Accepts license from Thomas Edison. Appears as race track gambler in The Silver King.
  • 1908 :: Opens theaters in Philadelphia, Wilmington, Norfolk. Interviews D. W. Griffith, but refuses to hire him. Joins Edison and other film manufacturers to create the Motion Picture Patents Company. Makes series of films to combat anti-Semitism.
  • 1909 :: Sells his chain of theaters. Forms Lubin Manufacturing Company, Inc. Builds “Lubinville,” a huge new studio in North Philadelphia.
  • 1910 :: Occupies “Lubinville”. Begins making medical and scientific films.
  • 1911 :: Florence Lawrence and Arthur Johnson make series of highly acclaimed films at Lubinville. Alan Hale and Pearl White both work briefly at Lubinville.
  • 1912 :: Establishes studio in Jacksonville, Fla. Buys Betzwood estate and establishes large studio and plant there. Decides to make feature-length films. Establishes “nomadic” studio in the Southwest. Federal government sues Patents Company as a “Trust.”
  • 1913 :: Makes his first feature-length films at Philadelphia studio. Establishes studio in Los Angeles. Henry King employed there. Oliver Hardy employed at Jacksonville studio.
  • 1914 :: Saves Goldwyn, Lasky, and DeMille by repairing technical problems of The Squaw Man. Explosion and fire at Lubinville. Loss of foreign markets due to WW I.
  • 1915 :: Joins with Vitagraph, Selig, and Essanay to form VLSE, to distribute feature films. Opens new studio in Coronado. Lubin honored as film pioneer at San Diego Exposition. Federal Judge orders dissolution of Patents Company. “Nomadic” studio called back to Philadelphia. Jacksonville studio closed.
  • 1916 :: Los Angeles and Coronado studios closed. Creditors seize Lubinville and Betzwood studios.
  • 1917 :: Sale of Lubinville and its contents. Sale of Betzwood studio. Lubin returns to working in his old optical shop.
  • 1918 :: Formation of Betzwood Film Company. Lubin on the board, but not in command.
  • 1919 :: Several attempts to get backing to return to production fail.
  • 1923 :: Lubin dies at home in Ventnor, New Jersey, age 82.
  • Please note that recent research has determined that Lubin was born in c. 1841, and not 1851 as reported in The King of the Movies in 1997.

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