Franck Zeveley Maguire and Joseph Deyoe Baucus

American businessmen

The commercial film industry in Britain began with the opening of the first Kinetoscope parlour in London at 70 Oxford Street on 17 October 1894. It was run by two Americans: Maguire and Baucus. Franck Maguire had been an agent for the Edison Phonograph, working the territories of Japan and China in the late 1880s. Joseph Baucus (illustrated), son of a Democratic politician, went to Princeton University and Columbia Law School, establishing a Wall Street legal firm, Baucus & Fleming. They became Edison's official agents for exhibiting and marketing the Kinetoscope in Europe, Edison having granted them the world rights, excluding the USA and Canada. Shipping Orders numbers 53 and 128, which still survive at the Edison National Historic Site, West Orange, New Jersey, document the first Kinetoscopes and Kinetoscope films to arrive in England for Maguire & Baucus. Seven of the films, the first to be commercially seen in Britain, were named in the London press on 18 October: Carmencita, Bar Room, Cock Fight, Wrestling Match, Barber Shop, Annabelle Butterfly Dance and Blacksmith Shop. It was negotiated between Edison and Maguire & Baucus that films would be made in the Black Maria for exclusive use in Kinetoscopes sold by them. The letters 'MB' appeared on a film for the first time on Buffalo Dance, 24 September 1894. 'C' was later used, standing for the name of their company, the Continental Commerce Company. Maguire & Baucus's success with the Kinetoscope was short-lived as they could not control the Kinetoscope market. As Edison had not patented his Kinetoscope for use outside of North America, Robert Paul began to make his version of it in late 1894, and by early 1895 Paul and Birt Acres were making the first British films.

The Kinetoscope had a commercial life of about seventeen months, before it was replaced by film projectors from the start of 1896. Now Maguire & Baucus, with offices in New York and London, became agents for Edison films and projectors. In 1897 they acquired the rights to distribute Lumière films in Britain and America. Charles Urban joined the company in the same year as the manager of their London office. His appointment transformed the company, which was renamed the Warwick Trading Company the following year after its London address, Warwick Court. By 1902 the Warwick Trading Company had become one of the most important film producers and distributors in the country, with a high reputation for documentary and records of important current events. As well as Lumière, the company distributed G.A. Smith, Williamson and Star (Méliès) films, but its fortunes declined after Urban's departure in 1902, at which time Baucus was Warwick's chairman and Maguire one of its directors. Maguire would later suffer for a number of years with what he called 'nervous prostration'. In July 1910, from his home in Rhode Island, he wrote to Thomas Edison and asked for an 'opening'. Edison did not offer him a position. Franck Maguire died on 12 November 1910. Baucus returned to the USA in 1905 where he resumed his practice as a lawyer. He tried and failed to be elected to Congress.

Frank Gray (updated June 2015)