Spartus Press Flash  –  Vintage Camera

Spartus Press Flash (three quarters)

Spartus Press Flash (three quarters)

Spartus Press Flash (three quarters)

Spartus Press Flash (three quarters)

Spartus Press Flash (front view)

Spartus Press Flash (front view)

Spartus Press Flash (rear view)

Spartus Press Flash (rear view)

Spartus Press Flash (top view)

Spartus Press Flash (top view)

Spartus Press Flash (with 35mm cassette for scale)

Spartus Press Flash (with 35mm cassette for scale)

Spartus Press Flash (three quarters)Spartus Press Flash (three quarters)Spartus Press Flash (front view)Spartus Press Flash (rear view)Spartus Press Flash (top view)Spartus Press Flash (with 35mm cassette for scale)

Spartus Press Flash Specifications

Manufacturer: Spartus Camera Corp.
   
Country of Origin: USA
   
Made in: Chicago, IL, USA
   
Introduced: 1939
   
Camera Type: Box, Viewfinder
   
Format: 120 Film
   
Dimensions (cm): 10.8 x 15.6 x 13.1

Spartus Press Flash Review

The Spartus Press Flash (also sold as the Falcon Press Flash, the Galter Press Flash, and the Regal Flash Master) is an unusually designed box camera introduced by the Spartus Camera Corporation in 1939. It is widely believed to be the very first camera of any kind to feature a built-in flash unit.

As is the case with most box cameras, the Spartus Press Flash has very few controls. A single speed rotary shutter is tripped by a black metal lever located just off the side of the camera at the 10 o’clock position from the lens. Just underneath the shutter lever is a silver metal tab that can be extended for an additional aperture selection. A knurled film advance knob is located just behind the aperture selector.

Directly above the lens is the socket for a No. 40 flashbulb. On top of the flash unit is a leather handle with a latch for the film door just behind it. On the opposite side of the flash from the viewfinder is a tubular battery bay which takes two AA batteries. However, unlike most bays which have two connectors at either ends of the battery, this one has a connector at the end and another one that contacts the side of the battery, necessitating the removal of the battery’s wrapper before insertion. Some modern day owners of this camera have remarked that they’ve had to crush the sides of batteries with pliers in order to get them to clear the side pin. THIS HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS.

I bought this Spartus Press Flash at the estate sale of Kirk Kekatos (founding member and former president of the Chicago Photographic Collectors Society) along with other cameras like the LaBelle Pal, Univex Model AF-4, Ansco Memo, Vest Pocket Kodak, Bell & Howell Electric Eye 127, and Graflex Graphic 35. I had been watching eBay auctions for the Spartus Press Flash for several years so it was pure luck that I stumbled across one in Mr. Kekatos’s basement that day.

Want one for yourself? Find your very own Spartus Press Flash on eBay.

References:

McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 2001-2002. (Grantsburg: Centennial Photo Service, 2001), 619, 650.

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