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Early instant photography: the Quta Photo Machine, c.1904-11

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Vintage & Classic Cameras70 of 70Ruberg-FuturoAnthony Victor, 1889 – c.1897
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Posted 2 years ago

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rniederman
(162 items)

An amazing diversity of designs is another reason why I love early cameras.

Here is the Quta; a camera with a name as strange as its design. A c.1906 advertisement claims it; "Produces a complete picture in frame in less than a minute." Does this marketing slogan sound familiar? Maybe more so than you think. A little over forty years before Edwin Land's landmark announcement of a camera that made "A Finished Picture in 60 Seconds," a new style of camera-the tintype street camera-was rapidly changing how people viewed and accepted photography.

For a new breed of itinerant photographers, gallery quality images were not the desired goal. Instead, the objective was to make money by making pictures. The allure and excitement of being handed an image mere moments after the picture was taken, regardless of the image quality, kept people coming back for more.

Speed, portability and simplicity were common advertising themes even as we experience today:

"If there is one desire more than another which everybody has nowadays, it is the wish to go faster. Railways are increasing the speed of their trains, the steamboat lines are trying to hasten their steamers, and the same tendency is manifest in all other directions. The world is on the rush today. In photography, the "QUTA" is speed's top note."
- 1906 Quta pamphlet

Prospective Quta owners were also enticed by learning that the camera's portable size was ideal "for use at the seaside and other places of public resort, such as Fairs, Summer Resorts, Excursions, Lawn Parties, Exhibitions, Bazaars, etc." As far as operational simplicity; "A child can learn to operate it in two lessons, no previous knowledge whatever of photography being required."

It's unknown if the Quta Photo Machine lived up to the advertising hype. But regardless of its success or failure, this camera and others like it evoked feelings of excitement and anticipation while waiting to see a picture in less than 60 seconds; the same feelings we got with the old Polaroids and today with digital cameras.

Comments

  1. JohnKratz JohnKratz, 2 years ago
    Absolutely fantastic!
  2. ericevans2 ericevans2, 2 years ago
    Cuter? Quota? They seem to have enjoyed strange names; there was one in Britain at the time called the Xit; Exit? Zit? Nobody seems to know. Love this beautifully made Quta camera.
  3. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 2 years ago
    Gorgeous as a work of art. Witty, elegant. Never heard of or encountered one of these before, so it is startling on that account also. miKKo
  4. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
    Hi Eric ... thanks for the comment. The British version is a solid body design called the "Popular Automatic Ferrotype Camera." I know of one example with a W. Watson & Sons label. And yes, the names are indeed strange. I've never figured out what Quta means.
  5. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
    Hi miKKo ... thanks for the note! Ironic you should comment about the Quta being 'gorgeous as a work of art' because that's the way I see many of my cameras. And its underlying story is terrific. - Rob
  6. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
    Thanks walksoftly and Scott!
  7. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
    Thanks, AntigueToys!
  8. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
    Thanks, mustangtony!
  9. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
    Thanks, musikchoo!
  10. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Henry!
  11. rniederman rniederman, 10 months ago
    Thanks, aghcollect and Sean!
  12. rniederman rniederman, 10 months ago
    Thanks, Perry!
  13. rniederman rniederman, 8 months ago
    Thanks, valentino97!
  14. rniederman rniederman, 7 months ago
    Thanks, flask!
  15. Roycroftbooksfromme1 Roycroftbooksfromme1, 7 months ago
    love your collection ...
  16. rniederman rniederman, 7 months ago
    Thanks, Roycroftbooks!
  17. rniederman rniederman, 2 months ago
    Thanks, Windwalker!

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