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Mignon Bicyclists’ Camera by the American Optical Company; c.1886

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Wood Cameras50 of 192Another 1881 Whimsical Cartoony Trade Card for Frank Pearsall, Brooklyn PhotographerHermagis Petzval brass lens 300mm f4.5 Ultra Large Format
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Posted 1 year ago

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rniederman
(162 items)

This is a very small American field camera (front focusing pattern) that makes 3¼” x 4¼” images on glass plates. I was baffled by it for a long time and then realized it was a Mignon based on catalogue descriptions. At this time, I know of no other examples of this cute camera.

This stunningly beautiful camera is constructed of lovingly polished mahogany and includes a fine wide-angle brass lens, two-section wooden case and five plate holders.

The Mignon Bicyclists' Camera appeared in catalogues into the 1890s and, as with my Anthony Bicycle Camera (also posted on CW); it is odd that this also seems to be the only known example. At this point my opinion is that these really early bicycle cameras didn’t appeal to cyclists.

Price of a complete Mignon outfit (including lens, universal joint bicycle attachment and canvas saddle bag) was $70 in 1886; about $1,761 in 2012 currency ... a very pricy outfit at the time! Maybe the cost of an outfit was simply too steep for touring cyclists. By 1888, the outfit price dropped to $50.

Comments

  1. Bootson Bootson, 1 year ago
    Another wonderful camera! I don't know but suspect bikes back then were real "bone-shakers". Maybe they had problems keeping the glass plates from cracking.
  2. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, mustangtony!
  3. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Bootson! And you bring up a good point about the bikes.
  4. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, blunderbuss2!
  5. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, vetraio50!
  6. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Henry!
  7. scottvez scottvez, 1 year ago
    The more I see your cameras the harder it is to keep from beginning a collection myself, rob!

    scott
  8. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Sean!
  9. SEAN68 SEAN68, 1 year ago
    Your very welcome Rob!!!!
  10. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Eric!
  11. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, walksoftly!
  12. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Scott!
  13. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, f64imager!
  14. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Hardbrake!
  15. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Sean!
  16. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Moonstonelover21!
  17. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, ChePibe!
  18. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, februarystarskc!
  19. rniederman rniederman, 11 months ago
    Thanks, Brett!
  20. Signaholic Signaholic, 11 months ago
    Very cool camera Rob, you are definitely finding the cool stuff!
  21. rniederman rniederman, 11 months ago
    Thanks, Perry ... my collection is a culmination of nearly 30 years of acquisitions, hunting, refining, purging, more hunting, writing articles, even more hunting, etc.
  22. Signaholic Signaholic, 11 months ago
    Wow, you ought to be an expert with what you have there.
  23. scottvez scottvez, 11 months ago
    HE IS sign!

    If you have have a camera/ photo question, rob is your man! He has proven to be a great resource for me and lots of other folks on this forum.

    scott
  24. rniederman rniederman, 11 months ago
    Thanks for the compliment, Scott!
  25. scottvez scottvez, 11 months ago
    Well deserved-- I appreciate all of the camera ID help you have provided.

    scott
  26. Signaholic Signaholic, 11 months ago
    Great to hear Scott and thank you! We have a few cameras around the house, mainly as display pieces. Not really any great value to them ( they are early portable Kodaks) but they are fun to find and look at.
  27. Signaholic Signaholic, 11 months ago
    One is the Vest Pocket which if I'm right was a very popular camera when it came out and a Autograpic Brownie.
  28. rniederman rniederman, 11 months ago
    Perry ... now you're obligated to post your cameras. And here's a link to a 2008 interview when I first met these cool CW folks: http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/guest-column-an-interview-with-antique-wood-camera-collector-rob-niederman/
  29. Signaholic Signaholic, 11 months ago
    Ok, here's the link. You won't think much of these but we only payed 10 bucks a piece for them so we thought for display that's cheap. LOL
    http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/100892-a-couple-of-early-eastman-kodak-portable
  30. Signaholic Signaholic, 11 months ago
    Great read on your article btw. Never knew these wood box cameras were so varied.
  31. rniederman rniederman, 10 months ago
    Thanks, aghcollect!
  32. rniederman rniederman, 1 month ago
    Thanks, windwalker!

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