1860-2010. – 644 pieces of photographic equipment : cameras.
Comprising cameras from the Kodak Collection, the Wilhem E. Nassau Camera Collection, the Irving G. Rumney fonds, and several other small donations, the Heritage Camera Collection traces the evolution of popular photography from the turn of the nineteenth century to our current digital age.
Many cameras in the collection were donated along with the Kodak Heritage Collection. This collection was amassed in 1999 by Kodak Canada Ltd. as part of celebrations for the company’s centennial year. Trace the history of Kodak’s camera production with the selection of camera images below, or come to Special Collections to see them in person, along with historical cameras from other manufacturers.
The Brownie was the first consumer model camera aimed at the mass market, introduced in 1900 with an affordable $1 price tag. Several million Brownies were sold over the course of the 20th century, with the popular box design being continually re-styled for the next generation.
Kodak No. 2 Brownie Model F, produced 1924-1933
This was the 6th model in a series of No. 2 Brownie cameras. The simple black leatherette covered box with a hand crank and top-mounted viewfinder recalled the design of the original Brownie. In 1929 Kodak introduced a range of colour options including red, grey, green, blue and brown.
Kodak Brownie Target Six-20, produced 1946-1952
In this incarnation of the Brownie, Kodak restyled its basic box with a metallic, linear faceplate design. Kodak had been using decorative faceplates for several years at this point to give the cameras a fresh design look, most notably with the Art Deco faceplates designed by Walter Dorwin Teague for the Beau Brownies in the 30s. The Target had its own limited edition design featuring Mickey Mouse and the Disney company logo, but very few of these were ever produced.
Kodak Brownie Starflash, produced 1957-65
The 1950s changed the look of the Brownie considerably, from a square, horizontal box with a viewfinder that you looked into from above, to a camera held up to the face. This point and shoot camera with built-in flashgun also provided the user with settings for either B&W or Colour films.
To see the vibrant blue of one of the coloured No. 2 cameras or variations on the fashionable faceplates of the Six-20s, check out the George Eastman House Brownie Collection.
This type of camera, manufactured in various forms from the 1890s to 1960s, is characterized by its bellows. They were designed to fold closed to a more portable size and shape when not in use. Some examples of early folding camera designs are also labelled ‘Brownie,’ perhaps as an attempt to cash in on public recognition of the popular Brownie style name.
Kodak Folding 3A, produced 1900-1914
Kodak Vest Pocket Autographic, produced 1915-1926
Autographic cameras used with a special film that allowed the photographer to write information on the film at the time of exposure. The compact size of this model made it a best seller, most popular with soldiers during WWI when it was marketed as ‘The Soldier’s camera.’
No.2 Folding Autographic Brownie, produced 1916-1926
Kodak Petite, produced 1929-1934
Also known as the Vest Pocket Kodak Model B camera, the Petite was marketed mainly towards women as part of the Kodak Coquette set which included a matching lipstick and compact. It came in a range of colours like blue, grey, green, lavender and old rose, with diamond patterning and coloured bellows.
The first generation of Instamatics was introduced in 1963, along with the foolproof drop-in film cartridge. After the original Brownie design, the Instamatic series was Kodak’s most successful range of cameras.
Kodak Instamatic 224, produced 1966-1968
Kodak Pocket Instamatic 20, produced 1972-1976
Other Popular Models
The Kodak 35 Rangefinder used two viewfinders, one for focus and the other for composition. Hastily designed and released to compete with other rangefinder models, it was improved upon in later incarnations.
Kodak Duaflex, produced 1947-1950
This pseudo twin lens reflex camera used the popular rangefinder style with two viewfinders but without the function – the viewfinders were not connected and the camera had a fixed-focus setting. There were several slightly different models produced in this series and various accessories were available.
Kodak Stereo, produced 1954-1959
The Kodak Stereo used two lenses to take two simultaneous images that, when printed and viewed through a special stereo viewer, created a three-dimensional effect. Stereo cameras were most popular around the beginning of the twentieth century but had a brief resurgence in the 50s.
Kodak Disc 4000, produced 1986-1989
This fixed-focus camera took special disc film that produced negatives 8mm x 10mm, far smaller than the typical 35mm for consumer cameras. The prints had a grainy appearance as a result of using such a small negative, so despite the exceptional precision of the lens and shutter assembly, the disc never really became popular.