Posted 6 years ago
Though this camera has been in my collection for a while, it took nearly a decade to acquire and was well worth the effort. The Anthony Patent Bijou was introduced in 1885 and advertised up to 1895. In dictionaries, Bijou means a trinket; a jewel; -- a word applied to anything small and of elegant workmanship. This camera lives up to that name. It is very small in size, lightweight (14½ ounces) and beautifully built of mahogany and brass. In 1886 advertisements, it was targeted to amateurs wanting to do more than traditional picture taking:
"Many amateur photographers, after they have overcome the early difficulties of the art, look around for pieces of apparatus that are suited to some particular kind of work. Some of them own magic lanterns and desire to make pictures with a view to preparing transparencies for projection."
Although E. & H.T. Anthony was regarded as one of the major American builders of large, professional apparatus, this small Patent Bijou was offered at a time - the mid 1880s - when 3¼ x 4 inch lantern slides were becoming the preferred format; which was ideal for a smaller camera:
"As the plate size is the same as those used with magic lanterns, slides may be made from them by contact printing in an ordinary frame."
Even after being advertised for nearly eleven years, amateurs' desires for pictorial representation in the form of transparencies must not have grown as anticipated. Then again, the camera was listed for $12 in 1885 (about $306 in 2013 currency) which was expensive for the time. By 1895, the camera price was dropped to a more reasonable $6.75 ($186 in 2013 currency).
But whatever the reason, this appears to be the only known example of the elegant little camera.