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A Rare and Elegant 1903 Presentation Camera

In Cameras > Wood Cameras > Show & Tell.
Cameras1284 of 1294Kodak Motormatic 35F CameraLancaster & Son Le Merveilleux 1/6 Plate 1900
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Posted 8 years ago

(290 items)

All you collectors reading this - fess up - we love to turn over ugly rocks in hopes of finding precious gems ... right? Over the years, I've been fortunate and the camera shown here is something that caught me by surprise.

This "Korona Special" is a unique, specially commissioned presentation camera, a rare jewel among its peers. While most presentation models are typically average cameras with embellishments and a small dedication plaque, the builder of this camera wanted to make a statement.

What would otherwise be a simple turn-of-the-century folding rollfilm camera is anything but that; and as seen here, the art of the craftsman is on full display.

Elegant floral motifs adorn the leather body panels. But upon closer examination, it is apparent that the body is not merely covered with a thick, embossed leather hide that should have worn down after a century of handling.

Instead, the plush sculptural designs have a crisp look with barely any wear. This was achieved by laboriously carving an unusually thick wooden body and then pressing paper thin leather onto the reliefs. Finally, white metal corners - possibly German silver - add a bit of dramatic contrast and further add to the camera's air of sophistication.

Step back and gaze at the camera; the overall theme is odd and confusing. Instead of keeping with a botanical theme, the unknown builder added perfectly executed playing card suits (clubs, spades, diamonds and hearts) and a large five pointed star beneath the carrying strap.

Sadly, the camera's intended purpose as a possible gift, award or personal memento remains a mystery. But sometime in 1903 - a year prominently taking up most of the underlying drop bed - this one-of-a-kind camera was probably commissioned for someone special.

Unsolved Mystery

Help us close this case. Add your knowledge below.


  1. BHenry BHenry, 8 years ago
    This is just amazing and a beauty to behold. Love the details. Putting on my drool bib now.
  2. JohnKratz JohnKratz, 7 years ago
  3. toolate2 toolate2, 7 years ago
    I have several old bellows type cameras but nothing like this. Amazing!!
  4. rniederman rniederman, 6 years ago
    Thanks, Scott!
  5. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
    Thanks, AntigueToys!
  6. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
    Thanks, AmphoraPottery!
  7. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
    Thanks, gluepot!
  8. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, farmlady!
  9. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, tom61375!
  10. Windwalker Windwalker, 4 years ago
    what a sweet heart and a great find....
  11. antiquerose antiquerose, 4 years ago
    Oooooooo....tooled leather on this camera!!

    Sweet, never saw something like this before.....
  12. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, Windwalker!
  13. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, kerry10456!
  14. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, vetraio50!
  15. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, Sean!
  16. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, fortapache!
  17. rniederman rniederman, 3 years ago
    A late "thanks", aghcollect!
  18. mcheconi mcheconi, 3 years ago
    An absolute gem. I'm glad it was found by someone who really appreciates its beauty and craftmanship.
  19. rniederman rniederman, 3 years ago
    Thanks, mcheconi! I was very fortunate to acquire this camera years back and have never seen anything similar since.
  20. rniederman rniederman, 3 years ago
    Thanks, Manikin and antiquerose!
  21. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
    Thanks, SpiritBear!
  22. SpiritBear SpiritBear, 2 years ago
    No problem. It's so cool.
  23. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
    Thanks, lee120275!
  24. rniederman rniederman, 4 months ago
    Thanks, oldpeep!

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