|Manufacturer:||Rolls Camera Mfg. Co.|
|Made in:||Chicago, IL, USA|
|Dimensions:||13 x 7.6 x 6.1 cm|
The simply named Rolls is a viewfinder camera made of Bakelite—an early plastic—introduced by the Rolls Camera Mfg. Co. in 1939. This same camera was sold under a wide variety of names in many different variations, particularly by what is commonly referred to as the “Chicago Cluster,” a group of Chicago-based brand names that produced so many near-identical cameras that it’s widely believed to be just one actual company.
Like the vast majority of inexpensive Bakelite cameras, the Rolls is very simple. The 50mm Rollax lens has a fixed aperture of f/16 and two shutter speeds: INSTANT (approximately 1/100 seconds) and TIME (which is really Bulb). The speeds can be chosen by a switch located at four o’clock on the lens barrel while the shutter is tripped by a lever at 10. Only one of the two metal knobs on the top of the camera is functional; the one closer to the simple optical viewfinder can be wound to advance the film while the other one serves no real purpose. On the user’s right hand side of the camera is a round metal button which unlatches the back of the camera. Due to the fact that it’s a half-frame camera, two red windows marked “1” and “2” are located on the back so that each frame can neatly accommodate two images.
I purchased this lovely little camera for a few bucks at a garage sale. The guy had written in the advertisement that he had lots of cameras for sale but all I found when I arrived was a cardboard box with a few plastic Polaroids, a non-descript Agfa folder, a couple of unremarkable box cameras, and this Bakelite beauty. One quick look and I knew I had to have it.
Find your very own Rolls on eBay.
McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 2001-2002. (Grantsburg, WI, USA: Centennial Photo Service, 2001), p 588.