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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
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Rotary lens apparatus for C. Francis Jenkins's motion picture camera, 1896Rotary lens apparatus for C. Francis Jenkins's motion picture camera, 1896

One of the first pieces of motion picture technology collected by the Smithsonian, this lens was donated by Jenkins in 1897, along with other devices supposedly invented by him. For more than twenty years the Smithsonian displayed Jenkins's machines as important achievements in film technology. But in 1921 another inventor—Thomas Armat, Jenkins's former partner—set out to prove that Jenkins's "inventions" were in fact "unoriginal and unimportant devices, some of them faked"; he called the display "false and libelous." While Armat did not achieve his goal of "sweeping the entire Jenkins collection out of the Museum," he did convince curators to change labels and remove several objects from exhibit.

See also: Photography, Intriguing Objects

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