Ansco Century of Progress

Ansco Century of Progress 1933 Chicago World's Fair camera

The Ansco Century of Progress is a commemorative version of the Ansco No. 2 Box camera made by Agfa-Ansco to be sold at the 1933 “Century of Progress” World’s Fair which took place in Chicago, USA. There were several branded cameras available at the 1933 World’s Fair including one based on the Kodak No. 2 Brownie as well as the cheap and cheerful “Yen Camera” from Japan.

Univex Iris

Univex Iris

The Univex Iris is a relatively high-end metal viewfinder camera debuted in 1938 by the Universal Camera Corporation. Universal employed a “razor and blades” approach to their products which means that, like all Univex cameras manufactured up to this point, the Iris can only be used with Universal’s proprietary film. This initially ingenious strategy became a massive liability when Gevaert–the Belgian firm that produced film on Universal’s behalf–was soon forced to cease production because of World War II.

Univex Uniflash

Univex Uniflash

The Univex Uniflash is a simple viewfinder camera made of Bakelite, an early plastic, which was introduced in 1941 by the Universal Camera Corporation. The Uniflash is named after its hot shoe, probably to call attention to the fact that it was the first inexpensive plastic camera in Universal’s lineup to feature one. Like other early Univex cameras such as the Model AF-4, the Uniflash used Universal’s proprietary No. 00 film as part of the company’s brilliant “razor and blades” marketing strategy.

Kodak Flash Bantam

Kodak Flash Bantam

The Kodak Flash Bantam is a compact folding camera introduced in 1947 by Eastman Kodak. As the name suggests, the Flash Bantam is the flash-ready variant of the original Bantam line of compact folding cameras which have no flash synchronization capabilities. Like previous Bantams, this model also utilizes 828 film, the unperforated 35mm film that Kodak developed but ultimately abandoned in favor of the now-standard 35mm cartridge.

Graflex Graphic 35

The Graflex Graphic 35 is a 35mm rangefinder introduced in 1955 by Graflex as a replacement for the Graflex Ciro 35, the camera on which it was also heavily based. The Graphic 35 was designed in the US and earlier examples were made in Rochester although production shifted to Japan with Kowa later on. The lens and shutter were sourced from West Germany.

Ansco Shur-Shot

The Ansco Shur-Shot is a simple, mass-produced box camera made of wood, leatherette-wrapped cardboard, and aluminum introduced by Ansco in 1948. A combination of simple mechanics and large production numbers mean that it’s relatively easy to find a Shur-Shot in good working condition even today.

Vest Pocket Kodak

The Vest Pocket Kodak (commonly known as “VPK”) is an early compact folding camera introduced in 1912 by Eastman Kodak. Designed to fit neatly into users’ pockets and later heavily marketed to British, American, Australian, French, Italian, and other Allied soldiers during World War I, the Vest Pocket Kodak was one of the most successful cameras of its day, reportedly selling over two million units during its 15 year production life. The VPK is also famous for having accompanied English mountaineers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine during their fatal expedition to Mount Everest in 1924. While Mallory’s remains were discovered in 1999, Irvine’s body and camera are still missing. Once found, the hope is that the film inside Irvine’s Vest Pocket Kodak may finally tell us whether or not the two climbers had succeeded in reaching the summit nearly thirty years before Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay‘s 1953 expedition.

Ansco Anscoflex

The Ansco Anscoflex is an unusual pseudo TLR camera introduced in 1954 by Ansco. The Anscoflex (and Anscoflex II) was crafted by the world-renowned French-American industrial designer Raymond Loewy, the same man whose portfolio includes the iconic Greyhound Scenicruiser bus, several steam locomotives for the Pennsylvania Railroad, various cars like the Studebaker Avanti, Sunbeam Alpine, and Hillman Minx, the interiors of the supersonic Concorde and NASA’s Skylab space station, as well as the livery for Air Force One. Small wonder he was referred to by the press as “The Father of Industrial Design.”

Univex Model AF-4

The Univex Model AF-4 is a compact folding camera introduced by the Universal Camera Corporation of New York in 1938. Amazingly, the founders of Universal had no previous experience in the photography market but still managed to create innovative yet easily mass-produced cameras. Much of Universal’s success came from their business plan to sell cameras at very low prices and rely on the sales of their proprietary film cartridge.

Ansco Memo

The Ansco Memo is an unusual 35mm half-frame box camera introduced in 1927 by Ansco. The “Memo” name has been used by Ansco and Agfa Ansco on several different 35mm models (for example the Memo II Automatic) over the years which can sometimes lead to confusion. To combat this, collectors will usually differentiate these models by including the year of introduction to avoid confusion. This particular model—which was the very first camera to bear the name—can also be referred to as the “Ansco Memo (1927 Type).”

Kodak No. 2A Brownie Model B

The Kodak No. 2A Brownie Model B is a basic box camera made of thick, leatherette-covered cardboard introduced in 1911 by Eastman Kodak. The Model B is an early variation of the ubiquitous No. 2A Brownie which saw a production run from 1907 to 1933 with millions of units. Eventually, later versions of the No. 2A Brownie featured bodies made of aluminum instead of cardboard and saw the camera available in a variety of different colors.

Graflex Crown Graphic

The Graflex Crown Graphic (also known as the Graflex Pacemaker Crown Graphic) is a large format press camera introduced by Graflex Inc. in 1947. The lesser known Crown Graphic is commonly mistaken for the Graflex Speed Graphic which is often regarded as the most famous press camera of all time. The mistake is easy to make, however, since the two cameras are identical apart from an additional focal plane shutter on the Speed.

Kodak Motormatic 35F

The Kodak Motormatic 35F is an automatic viewfinder camera introduced in 1962. The Automatic/Motormatic series cameras were the very first automatic exposure 35mm cameras to be made by Kodak and also the very last of their 35mm cameras to be produced in the United States. As their names might suggest, Motormatic cameras are motor-driven while the Automatic range have a manual film advance. Motormatics also have more shutter speeds.

Kodak No. 2A Folding Pocket Brownie

The Kodak No. 2A Folding Pocket Brownie is an early folding camera introduced by Eastman Kodak Company in 1910 at a price of $7 (about $170 in today’s money). The No. 2A is designed for the now defunct 116 film format which is very similar to 616 but with wider spool flanges. While we may think it’s a bit strange for Kodak to name this brick-sized camera a “Pocket” Brownie, it was considerably more portable than many of its contemporaries.

Kodak Hawkeye No. 2 Model C

The Kodak Hawkeye No. 2 Model C is a very basic box camera made of thick, leatherette-covered cardboard introduced in the mid 1920s. Interestingly, the Hawkeye, a name so commonly associated with Kodak, was actually originally manufactured by a little known outfit called the Boston Camera Company. The Boston Camera Company was bought out by the Blair Camera Company in 1890 which was then in turn bought by the rapidly expanding Eastman Kodak Company nearly a decade later in 1899.

Kodak Jiffy Six 20

When it was introduced, the Kodak Jiffy Six 20 was marketed by Eastman Kodak as the simplest, most user-friendly folding camera ever made. Up until that point, most folding cameras were of the same basic design (example: Kodak No. 3A Autographic). They were relatively difficult to handle, complex, and required users to manually unfold the camera and extend the lens in order to take photos. In the spirit of simplicity, the Jiffy boasts a simple two button operation. The first small metal button can be found on the film advance knob’s side of the camera and releases the front plate, causing the metal struts on either side to snap into place and automatically extend the lens. The second button is the shutter lever which can be found on the side of the front plate once extended.

Kodak Brownie Hawkeye

The Kodak Brownie Hawkeye is a simple plastic box camera produced from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. In addition to being made in its flagship factory in New York, the Brownie Hawkeye was also manufactured in Canada and France by its international subsidiaries. Over the years, there have been a significant number of Kodak cameras called the “Brownie;” this Hawkeye is one of the most popular models ever to bear the name.

Kodak Disc 6100

The Kodak Disc 6100 is a relatively high-end camera produced during Eastman Kodak’s foray into what they expected to be a revolutionary new product: disc film. Unlike the many different formats of the past, disc film was, as its name suggests, contained within a plastic diskette that users could easily load into their cameras. Within the cartridge was a circular piece of film upon which a total of 15 photographs could be exposed. Despite the supposed convenience and ease of use, disc film was a complete flop. Although the tiny negatives contained a fair amount of detail, graininess and lackluster image quality ultimately forced Kodak to quietly kill off the doomed format.

Agfa PD16 Clipper

The Agfa PD16 Clipper is one of the very first cameras produced by German company Agfa after its acquisition of the American company Ansco, thus forming Agfa-Ansco. Like the early offerings of many photographic company mergers, this camera was sold under both brands as the Agfa PD16 Clipper and the Ansco Clipper although it appears that they were all made in the very same American factory in Binghamton, NY.

Kodak Handle

The Kodak Handle was produced during Kodak’s brief and ultimately doomed attempt at instant film. Polaroid took Kodak to court for patent infringement in 1981 in spite of some crucial differences in Kodak’s approach to instant film and instant cameras and eventually won. Defeated, Kodak was ordered to cease production of all instant film and related products (including the Handle) as well as pay Polaroid $925 million (around $1.5 billion in today’s money).

Kodak 35 RF

The Kodak 35 RF was rushed to production in Kodak’s attempt to catch up with Argus who, at the time, were having great success with their C series of consumer-friendly rangefinder cameras. Unfortunately, their entire strategy revolved around simply taking the Kodak 35 and slapping on a rangefinder assembly. However, despite their seemingly simple and cost-effective solution, the 35 RF still cost well over twice as much as the ubiquitous Argus C3 and therefore remained eating its proverbial dust until Kodak finally stopped production in 1948.

Kodak Tele Disc

In 1982, Kodak launched what they thought would be a revolutionary product: disc film. Instead of fumbling around with roll film or awkwardly shaped cartridges, consumers could now load their cameras by simply inserting a thin, sleek bit of plastic into the back.

Kodak Baby Brownie Special

The Kodak Baby Brownie Special is a very simple box camera constructed of Bakelite, an early plastic. It has a basic meniscus lens with a minimum focus distance of five feet and a single fixed shutter speed (estimated to be about 1/40) activated by the button on the side. The optical viewfinder runs across the top of the camera next to the film advance knob. A nice braided hand strap is supposed to span the top of the camera from the metal brackets on either side but it’s missing on this one.

Kodak Instamatic 304

The Kodak Instamatic 304 is one of the more technologically advanced cameras in Kodak’s famous Instamatic line with a then-sophisticated automatic aperture system controlled by a selenium meter (seen on the front next to the viewfinder). It has a relatively simple Kodar 41mm f/8 lens with two shutter speeds: 1/90 and 1/40 for flash photography.

Kodak Colorburst 100

The Kodak Colorburst 100 was made during Kodak’s relatively brief foray into instant film. Kodak’s instant film was designed to be exposed from the back which meant that they could make their instant cameras more compact than Polaroid‘s which had to accommodate a mirror for their front-exposing film. Unfortunately, none of that mattered when Polaroid filed a lawsuit against Kodak for patent infringement in 1981. After nearly a decade of deliberation, Kodak eventually lost in court and had to cease production of all instant film and related products as well as pay $925 million in damages to Polaroid (around $1.5 billion in today’s money).