Posted 5 months ago
While rummaging around looking for something in my camera inventory, I ran across this camera. It was purchased long ago during my early years of collecting. FWIW, I still like these humbler American folding cameras. Although scarce and only in fair condition, I consider it an interesting, very portable piece of amateur equipment.
Blair Camera Company’s “Tourist Hawkeye Camera” was inexpensive, small, and lightweight; it was made for amateurs and recommended for cyclists. This camera made 3½ x 3½ inch pictures on a 12-exposure roll of film. A larger 4 x 5 inch model was also available.
Inside the morocco grain leather covered body is a polished wood interior and maroon leather bellows. Dominating the interior is a wooden front standard with a built-in lens and shutter; a departure from the usual external shutters and lenses.
Blair, probably to keep costs low, made a “non-returning” shutter. This means that once fired, the rotary shutter blade does not return back to its original position, and cocking the shutter for the next picture is a little bit different. Shutter speeds are set and tensioned by a brass wire on top of the wooden standard. To ensure it could be set correctly for the next picture, the shutter blade has two crudely engraved arrows instructing photographers the direction to move the shutter tension-setting wire. The camera shows the arrow pointing to the right, a visual reminder to shift the tensioning wire to the right to set the shutter. After taking a picture, a left-facing arrow appears, which means the tensioning wire is moved to the left. And so forth.
Although the Tourist Hawkeye is a no-frills model, it includes a nice feature to track the number of pictures taken. A tiny counter is located in the back panel.
Offered from 1898 to 1904, this camera was advertised for $9 (about $284 adjusted for 2020).