Brownie Box Camera – 1900
This week’s Throwback Thursday sends us to 1900 and the introduction of the Brownie box camera. This camera was the newest invention of the Eastman Kodak Company and forever changed the field of photography. The Brownie camera was a small and portable device. Previous cameras were large, cumbersome and required subjects to pose for extended periods of time. The Brownie box camera provided snapshot ability for the first time.
The new camera was not only more portable, it was now affordable for the general public. Families could now take their own photos and document their life events and memories. Kodak advertising promoted the catch phrase “celebrate the moments in your life” and picturesque scenes were now described as “Kodak Moments”. The first model was made of simple cardboard and cost $1. Then, when your roll of film was complete, you mailed it in for processing for another small fee. The pictures were processed and mailed back within a few weeks.
George Eastman invented the first day-loading camera. This meant the camera could be reloaded without the use of a dark room. He manufactured box cameras with paper film in 1885 and began using celluloid film in 1888. His first camera was called the Kodak. These cameras came with 100 exposures. The quality of the pictures improved with the lighter Brownie model camera. This model remained popular until the 1960’s. The old-style gelatin dry-plate models continued to be produced and used for fine photography.
Interestingly, the Brownie camera got its name from a cartoon strip that was popular at the time called “The Brownies”, created after the book written by Palmer Cox in 1887. A Brownie was a small sprite or hobgoblin believed to dwell in the eaves of houses throughout England, performing small favors and never being seen.
The amazing invention of the camera and photography has enabled us to preserve history. The Gateway Museum at Nature’s Art Village has a Brownie box camera and many more of the early model cameras and photography equipment of the past in its Snap Shot Photography Exhibit. The Past Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village has a variety of Brownie cameras as well as many other vintage and antique cameras and equipment available for purchase. Visit The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut to see our full selection of antiques and vintage collectibles.
Check back next week for another Throwback Thursday!