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Student Camera No.1 (with accessory rock): late 1880s - 90s

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Wood Cameras4 of 279Correcting Prism for Daguerreotype Cameras. c.1840s - early 1850sQuta Photo Machine, c.1904-11
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    Posted 5 months ago

    rniederman
    (330 items)

    I am reposting my "Student Camera No.1" because I just acquired an excellent condition instruction book (IB) and I wanted to share an updated picture of the camera and IB. (Then again, my photography over the past 10 years has improved.)

    Not all wooden cameras were pretty and here is a fine example of a beginner's camera that is - let's face it - really ugly. Yet it has a great story.

    Sometime during the late 1880s, a handful of obscure yet resourceful makers built cameras for beginners, children and "young amateurs." Compared to traditional equipment of the times, these were incredibly primitive devices ... nothing more than a box with a lens at one end and a sliding lid to load plates.

    Construction was amazingly crude. Poor-grade pieces of wood were assembled with simple tongue and groove construction. Even traditional cigar boxes were built with greater care than these cameras.

    The Student Camera Company specialized in cheap cameras made for high-school students: hence the name. The Student No.1 Camera shown here was the original model that made images on 2-5/8 x 3-3/8 inch glass plates. The shutter was simply your finger covering the brass-plate hole.

    Aside from its lack of good looks, what attracted me to the Student Camera was how the builder went to great extremes in portraying it as a sophisticated device. For example, the 64-page instruction booklet - an impressively large manual for this modest camera - promotes the camera as a better value because; "many of the parts that are supposed to be useful in a camera are entirely dispensed with." This comment specifically refers to bellows and double plate holders.

    Digging deeper into the booklet, I came across a couple more comments that were either written seriously or purposely tongue-in-cheek. Understanding this very lightweight camera had potential problems when used outside on a platform or tripod, the booklet notes:

    "If the wind blows, place a weight (a small stone for instance) on the camera to keep it still."

    However, the best part of this story is about the camera being durable:

    "The old-fashioned camera is a fragile and ramshackly affair, awkward to use and easily broken. The STUDENT can be thrown over a house without injury, and its manipulation can be comprehended and managed by anyone."

    I can't think of a better reason to own a Student Camera outfit; accessory stone and all. Can you?

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    Comments

    1. Ben Ben, 5 months ago
      You had me at "accessory rock"..... ;-)
    2. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 5 months ago
      So, the rock didn't come with the camera, or was it an accessory ? LOL !
    3. Watchsearcher Watchsearcher, 5 months ago
      Love the write-up!
    4. rniederman rniederman, 5 months ago
      Thanks!
      Ben
      BB2 (accessory found in yard - LOL!)
      Watchsearcher
    5. rniederman rniederman, 5 months ago
      Thanks!
      Foundaroundtown
      vetraio50
      BHIFOS
      dav2no1
    6. rniederman rniederman, 5 months ago
      Thanks!
      vintagelamp
      Sean
      valentino97
      SDCameraFan
    7. rniederman rniederman, 5 months ago
      Thanks!
      Michael
      f64imager
      JohnK
      Cisum
      fortapache
      RichmondLori
    8. rniederman rniederman, 5 months ago
      Thanks!
      egreeley1976
      AntigueToys
      Sunmoon2679
      Beachbum58
      snowman3
      mtg75
      leighannrn
      sugargirl
      farmlady
    9. rniederman rniederman, 5 months ago
      Thanks!
      vintagegirl66
      Designer
    10. rniederman rniederman, 5 months ago
      Thanks!
      usedcarlady
      Sunmoon2679
    11. rniederman rniederman, 4 months ago
      Thanks!
      Longings
      Daddy_Nobucks
    12. rniederman rniederman, 4 months ago
      Thanks!
      Lady_Picker
      rustyboltz
      chrissylovescats
    13. rniederman rniederman, 3 months ago
      Thanks, mcheconi!

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