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Antique Oak Detective Camera, early 1890s

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Box Cameras13 of 42AGFA BOX CAMERAAl-Vista 5-B Panoramic Camera, 1899-1910
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Posted 1 year ago

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rniederman
(162 items)

One of the most beautiful of all pre-1900 American box form cameras is the Antique Oak Detective made by the Scovill & Adams Company. The camera is constructed of oak wood, instead of more traditional mahogany or cherry, and finished in a light golden oak color.

It was an inexpensive 4x5 inch plate camera offered to youths and "those who want to make a moderate investment in photography appliances." It was also advertised as "certainly lighter and more compact than any other cheap detective camera in the market."

This particular example is in fine original condition with its leather strap and felt lens plug (often lost). The second picture shows the camera’s simple string-set shutter.

The Antique Oak camera sold for $15 in 1891 ($377.45 in $2012 currency) and was $2.50 less expensive than the same model with a leather covered body.

Comments

  1. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Sean ... always great to have you stop by!
  2. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, officialfuel!
  3. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Moonstonelover21!
  4. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, mustangtony!
  5. walksoftly walksoftly, 1 year ago
    Another great camera Rob!
    Why are they called a detective camera?
  6. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, walksoftly and good question. Although the term 'Detective' is part of the camera's name, the Antique Oak Detective camera (as well as other cameras with the term ‘detective’) is not a true covert camera as many people would like to believe. This type of camera style has its roots to around 1881 when Thomas Bolas first suggested the "detective" camera concept. These early concealed cameras were simply bellows cameras placed inside a carrying case or "bellows-in-a-box." This was originally done to make candid snapshots.

    By the 1890s, there was a growing interest in candid photography and builders responded. The idea was simple – build a camera that didn’t look like a traditional camera. A variety of forms appeared including books and walking sticks. Some were made to hide under layers of clothing: Yet the most common type was a simple box; after all, it was an easy shape for a camera and no one looked twice at a person holding a box. As you can see, the Antique Oak Detective is a box shaped, solid body camera.

    People eventually figured out that most anyone seen carrying a box with a hole in the front was actually holding a camera. Over time, the effort of making candid, detective style pictures became more difficult because people would pose for a picture. In the end, the term 'Detective' stuck around and was included in the model name to describe a camera style.

    Also refer to my other post about a true concealed camera called the Facile: http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/1274-fallowfields-facile-an-1890s-conceal
  7. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks blunderbuss2 and f64imager!
  8. walksoftly walksoftly, 1 year ago
    Very interesting Rob, I loved the one in the link as well, thanks.
  9. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Eric!
  10. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Henry!
  11. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Longings!
  12. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Bootson!
  13. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, trukn20!
  14. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Chevelleman69!
  15. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Phil!
  16. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, vetraio50!
  17. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, sugargirl!
  18. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, John!
  19. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, shughs!
  20. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, gargoylecollector!
  21. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Ben!
  22. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, chrissylovescats!
  23. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, trunkman!
  24. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, AntigueToys!
  25. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Designer!
  26. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, filmnet!
  27. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, petey!
  28. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, sanhardin!
  29. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, leighannrn!
  30. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Hardbrake!
  31. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Sean!

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