Thursday, January 20, 2011

Vintage View

"It is easily overlooked that what is now called vintage was once brand new." ~ Tony Visconti

A while back, when I was helping my friend Carol Anne clear out her basement in preparation for an upcoming move, we found a few interesting items which belonged to her late mother-in-law. One of them was particularly interesting to me.

camera case2
I knew it was a treasure when I saw its case.

autographic sep5
Inside, was this wonderful old camera - a Kodak 2A Folding Autographic Brownie.

Autographic, you ask? I did too. Google tells me that this little beauty which was manufactured sometime between 1917 and 1926 allows the photographer to "write" on the film with a stylus, immediately after the image is captured.

Right in there. The photographer could indicate where the image was taken or what the settings were so that they could be reproduced another time, if need be.

camera closeup
Let's take a closer look at the settings. A bit different from the cameras of today, isn't it?

doll sepia
All right, Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my closeup!


Jinksy said...

I do believe I have my Dad's old fold up camera tucked away...How come you keep making me hunt out all thes old artifacts?!! LOL Loved the photographic record of one of your camera's ancestors, as you might say... And full marks to the patient fingers that crocheted the doll's costume.

Brian Miller said...

oh that is quite the treaure you found...really cool...a good friend just found a record player...spent the day the other day listening to me some vintage

Lori said...

How awesome are these things! What treasures to be found...when I see things like this I think of the hands that once held them and the life they lived. XX

Hilary said...

When I was a kid, my father had an old camera similar to that one. That takes me back.
And I love the sweet.
The photo of her is lovely, too.
I envy your talents there, I just 'point and shoot'.....have no idea what all those settings mean!!!

Tabor said...

Very interesting. YOu are the observant one as most would have missed the importance of this item.

She Who Carries Camera said...

What a find and fabulous shots!

CiCi said...

What a treasure your friend has. Were you able to purchase it or does your friend love old cameras too? These are great pictures of the case and camera. I had no idea that way back then there were innovative ideas like being able to write on the photo. I know that you being the camera nut you are this was a great experience.

Mental P Mama said...

Wow! There is a case for not embracing all new technology! Can you imagine documenting a photo on the spot? In your own hand??? Wonderful!

Anvilcloud said...

My mother had an old camera for much of her life. Not that old nor that upscale, but I still wish I had it now.

DJan said...

That is a beautiful old camera, and photographed perfectly in sepia. I love your blog, Hilary, and I wonder how I survived before I found it!! (I was deprived.)

Anonymous said...

Oh, what a treasure you found indeed! Would love a collection of old cameras.


Unknown said...

Would it still work?
How cool.

Anonymous said...

Wow - that camera is a beauty!

Pat - Arkansas said...

What a treasure! And your photos of it, and the sweet dolly, are wonderful! :::sigh:::

Sandra said...

My mother took photographs as log as I knew her. And her very first camera that I remember was a folding one, although it wasn't as cool as this one with it's autograph feature.

I remember her and one of my sisters developing their own pictures in my bedroom (the room in the house with the least windows).

Dianne said...

that is a beauty
what a wonderful old camera

Bossy Betty said...

What a treasure indeed and a step back in time! Fab pictures of it too!

Suldog said...

Wow, that's way cool! I always wondered, when I saw old photos with writing on them, if there was some secret to putting it there - whether it was done during developing or whatever.

ds said...

Wonderful treasure--how perfect! Love the stylus, really interesting idea.

Kristina P. said...

What great, neat items!

Daryl said...

And a lot easier to understand.. the settings .. is the Ziegfeld Girl a toilet paper caddy?

Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

The quote at the beginning of the post really set the stage for the post itself. The camera is certainly a look back in time. It looks so big and bulky that a tripod was probably required. It must have been very innovative for its time, though, with the setting options that it offered. There are probably some collectors out there whose mouths are watering at this treasure. Very interesting post.

Kelly H-Y said...

Wow, wow, wow ... what a treasure you found!

messymimi said...

A treasure indeed. Some of the most iconic photos of the last century were taken with cameras just like that.

Out on the prairie said...

What a beauty, when I first saw the name i thought of the tiny little camera my mom had for so long.

MaggieGem said...

Wow, wonderful finds indeed! Does the camera still work?

Amazing photos of these fabulous finds!

Bob Bushell said...

Wow, that's still there, as a photograph should be. It is lovely to think you can take somebody or something, with the camera that is nearly 100 years ago.

Rebecca said...

beautiful and as grandma alway said when yard sale shopping "ones man junk is another man's treasure"

solarity said...

I still have my mother's 1929 box Brownie. I took photographs with it as a child that were much better than anything I could take until I got an SLR when I was nearly thirty. I have no idea whether I could still find film for it.

Mary Anne in Kentucky

Reb said...

What a great find! It would be so cool to find film for it and take a few shots. Love the doll too.

Maggie May said...

My dad had cameras like that and the doll brought back happy memories.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Fragrant Liar said...

My father used to have a Brownie, way back in the 1950s. Mom and I were just talking about it the other day, how much Dad loved and used it all the time. Our conversation was spurred by the Brownie we saw in a display case. Fascinating stuff.

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Congrats on the beautiful find! Looks like the perfect discovery for you, and the photos you took do it justice!

Frank Baron said...

My cousin and ex-partner in that photography business had some old cameras, including a few Brownies. My grandfather had one too but I'm not sure if any of them were as old as this one.

Very spiffy! Just holding it would be a thrill. I almost feel I can because you took such good shots of it. :)

Mage said...

You can have the bellows repaired, and you can use film you have to load yourself in that camera. No more Kodachrome tho.

Charming. We had one.

~JarieLyn~ said...

That is truly awesome! I love the case too. Who knew that they made stylus' back then. I wonder how much that camera is worth today?

xxx said...

that's a real treasure and I like the way that you shared it here.

I love old cameras... they're a favourite of mine

and best wishes for this New Year as this is my first visit since it arrived


tattytiara said...

Oh wow. What a treasure. And how cool that it was unearthed in the presence of somebody who could truly appreciate - and beautifully document - it. That is so awesome.

sage said...

what a neat camera! can you still get film for it?

Cloudia said...

Wow! You did it (and our avaricious eyes) justice!

Then the "punchline!"

Just great, Hilary

Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral



Unspoken said...

I love the case and camera.

Sandi McBride said...

I remember my little Brownie Box camera and the wonderful (not, lol) photos we took at camp. I would have loved to have this camera. Yes, indeed a treasure!

Hilary said...

• Jinksy, it's funny how these unintentional prompts work, eh? The doll in her outfit was also a part of that stash of items. I'm sure I'll post more of them another time. I'm glad you enjoyed the post and maybe walked away with some inspiration. I hope you can find your Dad's camera. :)

• Brian, that would be a fun find too, especially if the records are in good condition. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Lori, I think about the same things. In this particular case, I wonder what pictures this camera took and where they might be. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Hilary, to be honest, I didn't do all that much with the settings at the time of snapping these shots, but I had a lot of fun in Photoshop afterwards. ;)

• Thanks, Tabor. I appreciate your confidence in me. ;)

• Jillsy, thanks very much. :)

• TechnoBabe, I have the camera and a few other items at my place. I suggested we check out eBay so she could sell them if she liked, but it seems they're not all that rare worldwide, and folks were not asking very much for theirs so she decided to just give it away. And I decided to be that recipient. ;) I got a real kick out of researching it and learning about the stylus too. I was pleased that it was all still intact. Thanks so much for stopping by. :)

• MPM, very true but then think of how long it took until it was developed and how few copies you could get. But I get your point. ;)

• Anvilcloud, it would be cool if you did have it. I would love to see it. :)

• DJan, what a sweet thing to say. You're too kind. Thank you! I feel quite the same way about yours as well. :)

• Di, a collection would be fun. I do have one other in this mini collection. I'll probably post that eventually. :)

• Deb, I don't know. It seems to be in fine condition but without film I couldn't know for sure. :)

• I think so too, Lady Fi. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Pat, thanks so much. I'm really glad you enjoyed it. :)

• Sandra, the apple doesn't fall far from your family tree. Your mother took pictures and wrote and so does her talented daughter. That would be cool to develop photos at home. I tried that once with a couple of friends (one of them Carol Anne, in fact) a number of years back. We used a small bathroom, smelly chemicals and a red light bulb. It was kind of fun to see the images develop. Thanks for the visit and the memory jog. :)

• Thanks, Dianne. It was quite a thrill to find it and figure out how to open it. :)

• Thanks very much, Betty. I'm glad you visited the past with me. :)

• Suldog, I wondered about that too. Apparently this autographic method only lasted for about twenty years from 1910 onward. So any photos you see with that telltale writing on it were taken during that time. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks, DS. It is a really cool idea. Of course these days, cameras record everything about the composition of the photo but it would be nice to detail where the image was taken for those who snap hundreds of images while traveling. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thanks, Kristina. I'm glad you think so. :)

• It's pretty straight-forward, Daryl. Or so it seems. The doll isn't a TP caddy. It has funny little crocheted legs under that dress. :)

Hilary said...

• Linda, the camera might appear larger in the photo than it really is. It's much lighter than my DSLR, and though it's shaped rather differently, probably smaller too. The autographic ability is indeed very cool. I think that collectors can get pretty much what they want on eBay, these days. These were selling for very little on that site, unfortunately for my friend.. fortunately for me because I ended up with it instead. ;)

• Kelly, I'm really pleased with it. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• MessyMimi, you're absolutely right about that. I saw some beauties semi-recently. :)

• Steve, it seems we all have some old camera somewhere in our past. Thanks for the visit. :)

• MaggieGem, thanks. I don't know if it still works because I don't have film for it. But it seems to be in good shape. Thanks for the kind words. :)

• Bob, it would be a blast to know if it still worked but it's unlikely to happen. Even if I could find film, I don't know where I could get it developed. But it's fun to have the camera anyway. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Becca, your Grandma was a wise woman. :)

• Mary Anne, I'd love to see a photo or several of your mother's camera. I think we could probably find film online for many cameras but I doubt we could easily find a place that would affordably develop it for us. Cool that you still have it though. :)

• Reb, it really would but I suspect it would be a major expense.. film and development. Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :)

• Maggie May, I'm glad my post brought you back to a happy place and time. That pleases me. :)

• FL, that's so cool that you and your Mom were just discussing your Dad's camera. I bet it brought back all sorts of fond memories for both of you. I'm glad you stopped by. :)

• Elizabeth, thank you. Your kind words are so appreciated. :)

• Thank you, Frank. I thought about how you would probably love to handle this camera. You would have probably made a point of hunting down film for it - and a place to develop it. Yeah, I thought about that too. :)

• Maggie, the bellows seem to be in pretty good shape. Film and development are the problems though. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• JarieLyn, the case really is beautiful in a beaten up sort of way. The camera isn't worth too much because there are so many available on eBay. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Robyn, good to see you. Thanks so much for the kind words, and Happy New Year right back at you. :)

• TattyTiara, thank you for such kind words. They're so appreciated. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :)

• Sage, I don't believe I can. At least, not easily. I could probably find something online but then where would I get it developed at a reasonable cost for both? Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Cloudia, thanks very much. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

• Thanks very much, Amy. :)

• Thanks, Sandi. It seems that many of us have an old memory-evoking camera in our past. Thanks for the visit. :)

Dawning Inspiration said...

Oh these are soooo coool!

Unknown said...

Gorgeous!!! Just found your blog this morning! Love it!

Zuzana said...

What a find... Wow, wow...
So many emotions locked into this precious object, I am sure. Love the settings.;)
Wen you think about all the advances in photography and the incredible cameras of today, what a difference just a century makes.
Beautiful detailed photography dear Hilary,

Kat said...

Wow! A treasure indeed! I bet that camera is worth a pretty penny if she could bare to part with it.
As for the doll, well I must admit it creeps me out a bit.

Anonymous said...

A treasure to find and fabulous photos!

Sarah Knight said...

Wow, that's so cool!

Friko said...

So it is yours now?
Wouldn't that be wonderful.

365 Attempts (At Life) said...

I love the oldies. My apartment is a bit of an homage to them. I have a vintage grammaphone, It's my prized possession.

sleepinl8 said...

this is fascinating! honestly, i say this beats the iPhone any day. but not quite the iPad. I'm still gaga over that.

Anita said...

Do you remember when people crocheted toilet tissue dresses? Your last shot of the beautiful, sassy doll brings that memory back to me.

The camera - nice find!

SandyCarlson said...

Incredible photos. Thank you!

beth said...

wow....what a great camera.
i have one similar and will have to take a closer look at it to find out how old it is....

so did she give the camera to you ?

ethelmaepotter! said...

This is a fascinating post, and what a find for YOU! You know, I think that my grandmother may have had one of those cameras, or at least, knew someone who did. She was quite a fine amateur photographer and my parents have hundreds of photos she took. The thing is, I remember seeing a few with dates on them, like the color was just etched off in the corner. I never even thought anything of it until I read your explanation of the autographic film.
By the way, seeing the name "Eastman Kodak" reminds me of an upcoming post (details soon) and a cute sign from long ago. It was when we lived in Alabama, and there was a huge empty lot outside of Huntsville that finally Kodak. They put up a construction sign on the site that read, "Eastman Kodak - will develop."

Joanna Jenkins said...

What a wonderful treasure and how fun that you know who the camera once belong too. After having a closer look you really can say "they don't make 'em like they used to".

Your photos of the camera are beautiful and the last one is a hoot!

Cheers, jj

Dave said...

Fascination Hilary. I remember the bellows type of camera from Kodak but not this autographic one.Clever. Do you remember the earlier Box Brownie? I read somewhere the other day that Kodak (I think it was) have now stopped making film for cameras. It's a shame as film seems to give better quality photos than digital - Dave

Merisi said...

Write on the film with a stylus, before developing it?
How did this work? Intriguing!!

I once did some artwork with exposed Polaroid film, drawing on it before separating the layers. I loved the effect.

Merisi said...

I looked at that doll portrait more closely, what an interesting image it is! It captures perfectly the glow of the doll's body and face, and oh so softly. The portrait is lighted so well, with shadows and light and dephth of field set in ways that reveal the photographer knew what he was doing. I am smitten!
Have I missed any hint as to who the photographer is?

Don said...

What a find! I really like the fifth picture of your new found treasure. Frame it up!

Pearl said...

The images -- let alone the actual items -- are so evocative. I sometimes think my life would be so much easier if it were sepia toned...


SandyCarlson said...

"Average view" has me laughing tonight. I am thinking of all the ways this could be taken! And who decides what is average?

I have my great-grandmother's cookbook. One of them. Many of the recipes call for "one package of" chocolate chips or the like. I have to try to imagine what what was 60 years ago. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes--nope! It's fun.

These photos are awesome.

Hilary said...

• Thank you, SD. :)

• Welcome, Susan and thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated. :)

• Zuzana, I knew you'd appreciate this. You're right about the changes in this past century.. decade, even. We're advancing at amazing rates. Now we can't imagine our lives without our digital cameras, computers and our blogs! Thank goodness for that. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. :)

• Kat, the doll is a tad creepy, I'll admit. The camera isn't worth all that much on eBay. There are more available than there is demand for them. Thanks for the visit. :)

• KC, thanks very much. :)

• Sarah, I think so too. :)

• Friko, it is, and it is! :)

• 365, that would indeed be a treasure. How cool! Have you posted photos of it? Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Sleepinl8, I don't blame you one bit. I'd love to have an iPad. I'm a fan of everything Apple. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Anita, yes, I remember that all too well. Just about everyone had one. I'll bet some folks still do. Thank for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Sandy. Much appreciated. :)

• Beth, I do encourage you to look into it.. not just literally. ;) It was a kick to learn about this one. Yes, it's mine now. She just wanted to get rid of the clutter. She knows I'll appreciate it. :)

• EthelMae, that's so cool about your grandmother. I've seen those notes scrawled on photos as well and really had no idea until researching this one. I'd love to see some of her photos if you have them. That sign is such a clever play on words. I hope someone got a photo of that! Thanks for stopping by, my friend. :)

• Joanna, thanks so much for the kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I had fun with it and particularly with that last one. ;)

• Thanks, Dave. No, I don't actually remember the box Brownie but I've sure seen pictures of them. It is too bad that they won't continue to produce film but I suppose there's very little demand for it these days. Such is life. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Merisi, there was that little trap door which allowed access to the film. The online manual said to write quickly and only in minimal light so that it wasn't overexposed. The artwork you did must be fascinating.. I'd love to see it. All of the photos were taken at the same time - last week and by me with my DSLR. The doll was part of the small collection of items. When I decided to photograph the old camera, it occurred to me to turn all of the images into sepia tones. At the last minute, that old Sunset Boulevard quote (with the final image) came to mind and I thought I'd use the doll as the faux subject of the last shot. I snapped a photo and then played with it a bit differently in Photoshop, allowing some of the colour to remain. I would love to be able to play with that old camera but there was no film, and I think that even if it was available, it would be expensive to acquire and to ultimately develop. I thank you for the kind words :)

• Don, thanks very much. I might just. :)

• Pearl, I like the way you think. A sepia toned life sounds good to me. Maybe with just a hint of colour. ;)

• Sandy, clearly "average view" is exactly the midway point between "near view" and "distant view!" ;) Photography is pretty much a trial and error recipe in itself. I'll bet that's a fun cookbook. Maybe it would be a good photography subject... Thanks for the always-kind words, my friend. :)

Tammie Lee said...

Treasures indeed!

Linda said...

That camera is a wonderful find. I imagine it's worth a lot to the right collector. I expect that was very advanced for it's day, having the ability to label your pictures.

Hilary said...

• Thanks, Tammie Lee. :)

• Linda, I think it was probably ahead of its time. Even with today's technology, I can't indicate anything on my photos before I bring them into Photoshop. Thanks for stopping by.

25BAR said...

I have one such camera!

photowannabe said...

Awesome, awesome, awesome!!! What a treasure and the last shot is pure perfection.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Oh my word! What a find!!! I would have been swooning over that camera.

Cheryl Kohan said...

I'm just amazed at the technology they had back then...I mean, camera settings and all? That is so danged cool!

Your shots are great and would be really classy framed as a set.

Love the dolly, too.

Hilary said...

• 25BAR, very cool! Enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Sue, I had no doubt you'd have an appreciation for this machine. Thanks for the kind words. :)

• IBHH, I did indeed swoon. I almost dropped it. ;)

• Cheryl, it's a pretty impressive device, isn't it? Thanks so much for the encouraging comments. They're so appreciated. :)

Country Girl said...

Wow, that camera - Hilary. I love!!! Love a good pirate treasure story.

Hilary said...

Thanks, Kate. I'm not at all surprised that it appeals to you. Thanks for stopping by. :)