Box Cameras

Fototecnica Filmor

Fototecnica Filmor

The Fototecnica Filmor (also sold in Australia as the Hanimex Eaglet) is a simple metal box camera debuted in 1950 by Italian manufacturer Fototecnica Torino. Not to be confused with Germany’s Vredeborch Filmor, Fototecnica had two Filmor models, the one you see here with a rotating waist-level viewfinder and another model with a tube-shaped eye-level finder much like that found on the Herco Imperial.

Monarch Royal Reflex

Monarch Royal Reflex

The Monarch Royal Reflex is a pseudo-TLR (a box camera that superficially resembles a twin lens reflex camera) made of an early plastic named Bakelite and introduced in 1939 by the Monarch Manufacturing Company. Monarch (sometimes also spelled “Monarck”), was just one of a many names that made up the Chicago Cluster—a collection of Chicago-based camera brands including Spartus, Acro, and Falcon which appear to be multiple fronts for a single manufacturer. As such, the Monarch Royal Reflex was also sold under different names such as the Monarch Kando Reflex, Remington Flex-Master, and Pickwick Reflex. Its basic design also exists in the form of models like the Metropolitan Clix-O-Flex, Metropolitan Metro-Flex, and the aluminum-bodied Utility Falcon-Flex.

Lumière Scoutbox

Lumière Scoutbox

The Lumière Scoutbox is the model name used by French manufacturer Lumière et Compagnie for a number of similar box cameras designed for 120 film from the early 1930s until the early 1950s. This particular version—which was introduced in 1951—is one of the last cameras to bear this name.

Spartus Box 120

Spartus Box 120

The Spartus Box 120 is just one in a series of no-frills box cameras introduced by Spartus in the early 1940s (not to be confused with the similarly named but clearly different Spartus 120 of the 1950s). Designed to accommodate 116, 120, 616, or 620 roll films, these models are virtually identical outside of the designated film format and faceplate design.

National Instrument Corp. Major

National Instrument Corp. Major

The National Instrument Corp. Major is a barebones box camera designed for the 620 film format and introduced by the National Instrument Corporation of Houston, Texas. The Major, alongside the Colonel (virtually identical apart from having flash synchronization capabilities), and the upright Camflex were all introduced at around the same time and were the only known models produced during the manufacturer’s brief foray into the photography industry which makes all three cameras relatively rare and difficult to find.

Marksman Six-20

Marksman Six-20

The Marksman Six-20 is a no-frills box camera introduced in 1948 and sold by the Bernard Marks & Co. Ltd. of Toronto, Canada. Although both Eastman Kodak and Leica had a long history of manufacturing cameras at their factories in Ontario, many consider the Marksman Six-20 to be one of the only bona fide Canadian cameras in existence, but is it really?

Mithra 47

Mithra 47

The Mithra 47 is a box camera built in Switzerland and named after the year it was introduced: 1947. Not much other concrete information is known about this camera except that it came in different colors (black, brown, and reportedly red and green) and there was a very similar box camera with sharper corners called the Mithra 46 that came out the year before which was also rebadged and sold as the “Starmetal Goldy” by French camera brand Goldstein. Most of the sources I’ve come across regard Mithra as its own standalone brand but there are also rumors that suggest that it was manufactured by Agfa‘s subsidiary in Switzerland.

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.

Kodak Brownie Vecta

Kodak Brownie Vecta

The Kodak Brownie Vecta is a simple plastic box camera manufactured by Kodak Ltd., London—Kodak’s British division—in 1963 for the 127 film format. The camera’s stylish looks can be attributed to world-renowned industrial designer Sir Kenneth Grange who, in addition to a handful of Kodak cameras, is also responsible for the InterCity 125 High Speed Train as well as the modern London Black Cab).

Spartus Press Flash

Spartus Press Flash

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.

Hunter Gilbert

The Hunter Gilbert is an unusual British-made box camera introduced in 1953 by R. F. Hunter, Ltd., a London distribution company that sold cameras under its own brand as well as those of other companies.

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.

Bell & Howell Electric Eye 127

The Bell & Howell Electric Eye 127 (also known as the Infallible Electric Eye 127) is a premium automatic exposure box camera introduced in 1958 by the Bell & Howell Company of Chicago. While better known for its motion picture cameras and projectors, Bell & Howell also manufactured several still camera models from the late ’40s to the early ’60s and sold rebadged Canon cameras in the 1970s.

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.”

Kodak Hawkeye

The Kodak Hawkeye (also commonly sold as the “Baby Hawkeye,” “Hawkeye Ace,” and “Hawkeye Ace De Luxe” in several slight variations) is a simple box camera made of leatherette-covered cardboard with a metal face. The Hawkeye was manufactured by Kodak Ltd., London—the British subsidiary of Eastman Kodak—and appears to have only been available in select European markets when it was introduced in 1936.

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.

Zeiss Ikon Box Tengor (56/2)

The Zeiss Ikon Box Tengor (56/2) is a well-built and relatively advanced box camera (regarded by some as “the king of box cameras”) introduced by Zeiss Ikon shortly after the end of World War II and the subsequent division of Germany. The Zeiss Ikon Box Tengor line is a continuation of the original Box Tengor series manufactured by Goerz before it merged with ICA, Ernemann and Contessa-Nettel to form Zeiss Ikon in 1926. The 56/2 is the final camera to bear the Box Tengor name.

Spartus Six Twenty

The Spartus Six Twenty is a box camera dressed up as a TLR introduced in 1940 by the Spartus Camera Corporation of Chicago. The Six Twenty—so named because it takes 620 format film—is what’s called a “psuedo TLR” which means that it looks like legitimate TLR at a glance but is technically a box camera because the lenses do not focus in tandem (unlike its cousin, the Spartus Spartaflex which has a coupled focusing system). In fact, the lenses on the Six Twenty can’t really be focused at all.

Altissa Box

The Altissa Box is a simple but elegantly styled box camera introduced in 1951 by Altissa Camera Werk. One year after the launch of the Box, Altissa’s owner Berthold Altmann fled to West Germany leaving his company behind to be taken over by the East German government and turned into the state owned “VEB Altissa Camera Werk” with “VEB” being short for Volkseigener Betrieb or “people-owned enterprise.”

Genos Rapid

The Genos Rapid is a German box camera introduced in 1950 by Genos and made of Bakelite, an early plastic. Based in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg, the company was originally known as Norisan Apparatebau but after Germany was defeated in World War II (and the famous Nuremberg Trials had taken place), they decided to change their name to Genos Kamerabau.

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 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.

Spartus 120

The Spartus 120 is a simple box camera made of an early type of plastic called Bakelite. At the time of the 120’s introduction, a great multitude of relatively inexpensive cameras (including the Spartus 35F) were being manufactured in Chicago by the same factories but sold under a puzzlingly broad range of different but related brands with Spartus being the cornerstone of it all. It should come as no surprise then that this very same camera was also sold as the Sunbeam 120 and that a brown-colored but otherwise identical variant was sold under the name “Spartus 120 Flash Camera.”

Herco Imperial 620 Snap Shot

The Herco Imperial 620 Snap Shot is a simple plastic box camera that was manufactured by the Herbert George Co. of Chicago (which would later become the Imperial Camera Corporation). This and other box cameras like it were initially sold under the brand name “Herco” and then, somewhat confusingly, under the “Imperial” brand. While doing my research, I found this camera being referred to as both the “Herco Imperial” and the “Imperial Herco.” This camera will be referred to in this article as the Herco Imperial because it just makes more sense given the hierarchy of text on the camera itself.

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.