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The Pillsbury Picture Company 

The History of the Pillsbury Picture Company

The Pillsbury Picture Company was originally founded in 1906 just one month before the catastrophic Earthquake and Fire in San Francisco. Arthur C Pillsbury started the company in San Francisco. Quitting his  job as a photojournalist with the San Francisco Examiner he was again, as he preferred, in business for himself.   He was always happiest when he was able to innovate unimpeded by the disapproving frowns of those who were more conventional.  

The company was headquartered at his home in Oakland.  He had outfitted the house with a full array of photographic equipment and darkrooms, which saw intense use during the aftermath of the Earthquake and Fire.  

On the morning of April 18th Arthur C. Pillsbury was thrown out of bed in Oakland, where he lived. Before he hit the floor he had grabbed his camera. One minute later he was on his way to the City with both his graflax and his circuit panorama camera. There, he took images that went all over the world showing people every where what had happened to the City on the Hill. These pictures show the magnitude of the disaster. A.C. used the profit from his photographs to buy the Studio of the Three Arrows in Yosemite. He had fallen in love with Yosemite when he first went there riding his bicycle from Stanford in 1895.  

In 1906 he toured California and continued photographing the glorious panoramas and the intimate moments he encountered. Those photos have become a part of history.  

The Pillsbury Picture Company became the largest distributor of postcards on the West Coast for many years, introducing many innovations especially in products offered through the Studio of the Three Arrows in Yosemite. Eventually, the Pillsbury Picture Company also produced movies of very unusual kinds, including the first lapse-time motion pictures and the first microscopic motion pictures, x-ray motion pictures and underwater motion pictures as well as motion pictures of all kinds of natural life. 
A. C. invented cameras became he wanted to open up new horizons for human vision. He chose to do this not in academia but in business. He refused to patent any of his cameras, making them optimally available to the public; he patented the inventions that he considered to be directly related to business.  

The Pillsbury Picture Company is proud to have been the producer of the first special effects. This was the insertion of a motion picture of Arthur C. Pillsbury lecturing into a motion picture of a cell pumping. The innovations of Arthur C. Pillsbury are lengthy  and information on these is available on this site.