Even before the first 19th century cameras were produced, wood was used for their predecessor, the camera obscura, to keep the inside completely dark. Early antique wood cameras (also incorporating brass and leather parts) are mostly box models, but also include view cameras and American red bellows folding (self-casing) cameras. Collectible manufacturer names include Kodak, American Optical, Blair, and Scovill, among others. Wood gave way to handheld cameras in the 1920s.

Collectors seek out not only the cameras but their accessories and actual plates and images taken with them. Some antique wood cameras can be historically significant, as there were a lot of innovative prototype cameras being developed during this period. Also, many wood cameras are delicate or fragile and must be displayed carefully and kept out of direct sunlight. Finally, don't polish the brass - collectors like the tarnish!


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Antique and 19th Century Cameras

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Rob Niederman’s homage to (and collection of) late 19th century wood cameras. This site contains extensive galler… [read review or visit site]

Collection D'Appareils Photo

Collection D'Appareils Photo

While we couldn't read everthing - it's mostly in French - the images on this site speak for themselves. Its an ext… [read review or visit site]

Magic Mirror of Life

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Jack and Beverly Wilgus have put together a great trove of information and images of camera obscura-related photos … [read review or visit site]

Cameras and Co

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An impressive collection of antique and vintage cameras, this site features high-resolution images of over 120 came… [read review or visit site]

George Eastman House

George Eastman House

This showcase of vintage cameras and photography is plainly designed, but the camera collection and related referen… [read review or visit site]

Antique Cameras D. Tristram Ludwig

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David Tristram Ludwig shares high resolution images of his in-depth personal collection of antique cameras, includi… [read review or visit site]



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