Dec 1, 2012

Continental Zenith camera

They all come along, some sooner, some later, but eventually all those rare camera models cross your path. Last month I noticed a 9x12 cm Zenith Kodak box on eBay. I had known for a long time that the model existed. Brian Coe mentioned it in his book Kodak cameras, the first hundred years. According to Coe 1000 were made in 1899, but I had never seen one before or heard of one. And now a Paris dealer had one for sale. When the auction ended I had been the only bidder.

So now I am the happy new owner of a very rare camera (that almost no one cares tuppence about). It completed my series of Eureka and Zenith Kodaks. This is a range of cheap box cameras that were made during a short period, ranging from 1898 until 1900. Apart from the extremely simple No. 2 Eureka Junior, all could accomodate plate holders and roll film holders. The Junior only took a single metal plate holder.
The Eureka name was already in use in Europe, so (t)here some models were sold under the Zenith name. The No. 3 Zenith came in two versions: one for the UK market and one for the continental (metric) market. This last one was called 9 x 12 cm Zenith.
There are 6 different models (and some variations within the models):

From left to right:
From the 1899 RPS catalog.
  • No. 4 Zenith
  • No. 4 Eureka
  • No. 2 Eureka Junior
  • No. 2 Eureka
  • 9 x 12 cm Zenith (see it on my website)
  • No. 3 Zenith
Apart from the two lines in the Coe book, I knew nothing about the 9x12 cm Zenith. That was a good reason to dive into the deep web to hunt for some more info. I tried the digital repositories I know, like the Hathi trust, Internet Archive, Gallica and even Google Books. What I did find were some tiny remarks about the No. 3 Zenith, but not one single word about the 9 x12 cm Zenith. There must be an ad around somewhere in all those online journals, magazines and newspapers of 1899 and 1900, but I did not find it.
The best find was a small piece in a Royal Photographic Society exhibition catalog of 1899, describing the No. 3 Zenith.

Le Pascal
What else is going on?

Most interesting was the auction of a Japy & Cie "Le Pascal" box on eBay. This small simple looking camera of the late 1890's is described as the first motor drive camera. When loading the camera the roll of film is wound onto a drum. At the same time a spring is tensioned. The mechanism advances the film after a pic has been taken. On one roll there were 12 exposures of 40 x 55 mm.
The one on eBay sold for € 335, which is about US$ 435.

Tisdell Detective camera
Another fine item is a 4 x 5 inch Tisdell Detective camera from the 1890's. Only 1 day to go, 14 bids at the moment, price now $ 520.

The last item I mention is a negative with an Autographic remark on it. There must be many of these around, but I do not see them often. If you would like to have one, here's your chance. 4 days to go, no bids yet, starting price $ 5.
Autographic negative

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