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Anthony Bicycle Camera: The first camera designed for cyclists

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Wood Cameras268 of 272Greenpoint Optical Co. Victor Variation 2 1888Circa 1890 12"x12" Empire State box camera w/ Excelsior lens and wooden tripod
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    Posted 10 years ago

    rniederman
    (317 items)

    As a collector and historian of vintage American wood and brass cameras, learning the lore and legacy of early equipment is as important as collecting. Many years ago, I was fortunate to obtain the Anthony Bicycle Camera shown here. This is one of two known examples and is historically exciting as the first camera purposely built for bicyclists. Yet it is ironic to note that other companies overtook Anthony as leaders in designing and selling 'cycle' style cameras.

    E. & H.T. Anthony introduced the tiny Bicycle Camera in 1885 when high wheel bicycles were immensely popular and amateur travel photography was coming into its own. To make it attractive to cycling enthusiasts, Anthony advertised a Bicycle Equipment outfit: Everything wheelmen would want; small camera with lens, camera mount, and even an optional telescoping brass rod that turned a high wheel bicycle into a make-shift camera stand.

    Anthony stuck with the belief that cycling and photography were destined to be together and continued to advertise the Bicycle Camera until at least 1895. Scovill, Anthony's biggest competitor, also felt that the "two amusements are now often combined," and offered its own Pocket Photographic Outfit for Bicyclists in 1892.

    Yet the marriage of bicycles and cameras was more or less a trial. Anthony's and Scovill's outfits were nothing more than small field view cameras, which although portable, had large cases and were cumbersome to set up and use.

    The exceeding rarity of these first cameras is unexplainable; especially since Anthony advertised the Bicycle Camera nearly ten years. Could rarity be due to a lack of popularity or from inevitable events that destroyed the cameras such as crashes (often called headers when falling from a high wheeler) and tipping bicycles used as stands?

    Bicycles and itinerant photography finally enjoyed a healthy and prosperous relationship by the mid-1890s from two key innovations: safety bicycles (widely regarded as the most important development in the history of bicycles) and small self-casing, folding cameras. Strangely, Anthony, the company that started it all, was not along for the long term ride.

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    Comments

    1. ballandcards ballandcards, 10 years ago
      This is fascinating; I'd love to see more of your vintage cameras!
    2. Echo_Delta Echo_Delta, 10 years ago
      Realy sharp camera!
    3. rniederman rniederman, 8 years ago
      Thanks, Hardbrake!
    4. rniederman rniederman, 8 years ago
      Thanks Phil and BELLIN68!
    5. rniederman rniederman, 8 years ago
      Thanks officialfuel and AntigueToys!
    6. rniederman rniederman, 8 years ago
      Thanks, Scott!
    7. rniederman rniederman, 8 years ago
      Thanks, mustangtony!
    8. rniederman rniederman, 8 years ago
      Thanks, wood_cameras!
    9. rniederman rniederman, 8 years ago
      Thanks, f64imager!
    10. rniederman rniederman, 7 years ago
      Thanks, aghcollect!
    11. rniederman rniederman, 7 years ago
      Thanks, farmlady!
    12. rniederman rniederman, 7 years ago
      Thanks, michaeln544!
    13. rniederman rniederman, 7 years ago
      Thanks, trunkman!
    14. rniederman rniederman, 7 years ago
      Thanks, Windwalker!
    15. Belltown Belltown, 6 years ago
      It was the Go Pro of its day!
    16. rniederman rniederman, 6 years ago
      Great thought, Ben! Thanks.
    17. Hunter Hunter, 5 years ago
      Very cool Rob - I'd never seen this one. It's like a 130-year-old GoPro! :)
    18. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, Hunter!
    19. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks!
      collectorsedition50
      Kerry
      racer4four
    20. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks!
      michaeln544
      ttomtucker
    21. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, AnnaB!
    22. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, Trey!
    23. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Wow ... it's been 7 years since my first post (this camera). My ... my ... how the time goes by! Have a great New Year CW folks!
    24. SpiritBear, 4 years ago
      One of the oldest posts on CW. I think this is the only one I've seen over 6 years old. I had been under the impression CW is only that old.
    25. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Hi SpiritBear. Thanks for the comment. CW is older than Show & Tell. In a nutshell, I was interviewed in July 2008 (about a year before my first post) and then asked to participate in a new feature called Show & Tell. It was a really exciting concept and, as you can see, it is very popular.

      By the time of my first post, there were already lots of others (they can be found by searching). CW wanted to kick-start a photography category and asked if I would post some cameras. I'm not the earliest post but definitely one of the early Show & Tellers. My interview can be read here: http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/guest-column-an-interview-with-antique-wood-camera-collector-rob-niederman/
    26. rniederman rniederman, 3 years ago
      Thanks, oldpeep!

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