Jun 28, 2012

1895 Eastman Bullet photo & other Kodak rarities

This week I added a rare photograph to my collection, that was made with the first model of the Kodak Bullet camera. There is no text on the mount stating "made with the Bullet camera", but there is a hand written date of July 1895. At that time the only Kodak camera for 3 1/2" square photos was the No. 2 Bullet, model of '95. This  camera was introduced in March 1895. The next model for this size is the No. 2 Bull's-Eye, which appeared in August 1895. The Bullet was replaced with the Improved model in April 1896. The camera is not well known and relatively rare.

I'm always looking for original photographs to go with my cameras and I consider this pic as a great find.

The 1895 model No. 2 Bullet with fake
crocodile  leather.

Earlier this year I added a No. 4 Panoram photo (size: 30.2 mm x 8.5 mm) to the collection. It is an interesting pic of an old fort, a house and a man under a tree. The picture is framed but when I took it from the frame to scan it I noticed a faint hand written text on the back: Miss Turnbull 3774 or 3114. Maybe this number is a telephone number, but until now I could not find a Turnbull with this number in the old directories. I wonder where the picture was taken and I hope that the name/number combination can shed any light on this. Anyway, the photo is nice and I share it with you here.

Some other niceties at eBay are, to start with, an envelope with a 1888 Kodak ad on it. It sold for US $ 127.50. This truly is a rare item and a fine addition to any Kodak collection. I can't remember seeing one of these before.

A Brownie Gift box went for $ 156 to a new owner. It is the box only, no contents. The Gift Box was made in 1924 and aimed at the '24 Christmas market. It contained a No. 2 Brownie camera, two rolls of film, an instruction booklet, a portrait lens, an album, glue, a booklet "At home with the Kodak". It is considered a rare item.  See this website and this one for more photos and a description.

Jun 19, 2012

New addition: Susse Freres camera

Well, what do you expect after 30 years of collecting early Kodak cameras? I guy might want to try something else, nothing wrong with that. But what can you do? Leica? No, I'm more a wood and brass man. So why not go for the best: daguerreotype cameras. And what is better than the first commercial Daguerreotype camera? So I set my mind on having a Susse Freres camera.

First a bit of history before I go to my newest addition. On 22 June 1839, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre signed a contract with two manufacturers to produce the first cameras, Alphonse Giroux and the Maison Susse Frères of Paris. The Giroux camera is well known today, but the Susse Freres camera was only known from a Susse Freres ad. This ad dates 10 days before Giroux announced his camera. In 2007 a Susse Freres camera was auctioned at Westlicht of Vienna and sold for € 576,000. This camera was originally owned by Prof. Max Seddig (1877-1963) who was the director of the Institute of Applied Physics in Frankfurt am Main. Seddig gave the camera to his assistant, Günter Haase, as a present. Prof. Günter Haase died on February 20th 2006 at the age of 88 and left the camera to his son, Prof. Wolfgang Haase.

Susse Freres Daguerrean camera that was sold at Westlicht in 2007.
Enough of history. How did I get mine? Imagine a little shed in the shade of trees. An elder tree is hanging over the roof. Inside is a workbench with tools, an old cabinet and shelves with boxes on it. From this little shed came my camera. Admire it in the video below.

How do you like it? But before you get too enthusiastic (or maybe jealous?) let me tell you the whole story. When I decided some weeks ago to keep my photographers studio model, it struck my mind that it would be nice to have a Susse Freres camera in it. I have admired it since I first saw it in 2007. So I set to work to make one. Not full scale but on a 1:6 scale. First I did some research to find the exact dimensions of the original. On a Spanish wiki page I found the sizes, but these seemed not to correspond with the photographs I had. I asked Westlicht and Jo Geier from Westlicht provided the correct dimensions (the Spanish wiki corrected the information). The real Susse Freres camera is 52 x 37.5 x 32 centimeter (LxWxH) so my model had to be 8.7 x 6.2 x 5.3 centimeter. I had a nice piece of wood I could use for the project and I started shaping all the panels and wooden parts. From a sheet of 0.5 mm brass I made the lens tube and other metal parts. The original camera is stained black, so I could not simply paint my scale model. I blackened it with a marker and wiped the ink with turpentine on a cloth. This gave a very good effect. I used a real lens with the proper focal length for the scale model, so there is an image on the ground glass.

I am pleased with the result and I liked making the model. Now of course I have to have a Giroux camera... and the 1826 Niepce camera... and a Fox Talbot mouse trap camera.... I'm afraid I found myself a new hobby.

Jun 2, 2012

Goodbye to Venetian Cream & hello to George Eastman on YouTube

For many years I have been using Venetian Cream to restore the worn, faded, scratched, scuffed and dried out leather on antique cameras. It worked miracles. Alas, the manufacturer stopped making it. Now I will have to start experimenting again with home made concoctions of leather dyes, shoe cream and the like. I am not amused! But maybe someone out there knows the perfect alternative....

This week I found a video about George Eastman on YouTube (actually three consecutive videos) that is worth while to watch. The story it tells is well known, at least to me, but there is some nice footage in it about Kodak Park that I have not seen before. Actual movie footage is rare and mostly panning and zooming in on photographs is used to give a film like effect.
Embedding the videos is not possible, but here are the links and a few screenshots:

Brownell in the camera factory

Emulsion cooking
Last but not least, there has been another goodbye this week: I have given away my Durst M605 enlarger with Componon S 80 mm lens and all the dark room paraphernalia that I still had. I had not used it for many years and I am pretty sure I never would use it again. So, good bye fine instrument.