Saturday, 24 August 2013

Snapshots of a Camera

This week's Saturday Snapshot is really special to me because it shows my Father's old camera. Dad died nearly seven years ago, just before Christmas, and this camera lay hidden in a cupboard for a long time because I felt tearful every time I looked at it. But recently I took it out and prised it open, and made a little display on a shelf, a kind of memory corner, with a couple of shots of Dad holding the camera, and a few of the pictures he took with it, and a photo of him and Mum at their wedding.

It's a No 1 Pocket Kodak Camera Autographic model manufactured by the Eastman Kodak company some time between 1926 and 1932, and it must have been old he acquired it (he was born in 1922) but it was his pride and joy for many years, and he kept it long after he stopped using it. Other cameras came and went over the years, with assorted lens, filters and flashlights, but this one  outstayed them all, and it must have meant a lot to him because he hung on to it, even though was (and is) unusable without some kind of restoration work being carried out.


Personally I think the name is a misnomer, because you'd never fit this into a pocket - the leather case is around 2mm thick, and it measures about eight inches, by four inches, by two inches, and is quite heavy. 

The concertina bit that pulls out is actually called a bellows, and now lets in little pinpoints of light along its edges and points, so there's no way you take pictures, because any film put through it would almost certainly be badly fogged and damaged by light, but film is still available which would fit it, and I would love to know if it could be repaired.   

The original film, which is no longer manufactured, could be written on with a beautifully decorated metal stylus which looks like a pen or pencil and is clipped to the side of the lens. Apparently the stylus slotted into into a hole, and could be used to write the date on a film, or the place where a photo was taken, or the name of the person in it.  people could write the date on the film (there is a little hole at the back that the  

The photos taken on it were all black and white (I guess no colour film was available in those days) and they were quite small, and some of them seem quite fuzzy, but the camera is surprisingly sophisticated, with variable shutter speed and all kinds of features. 

Dad loved taking photographs. The more complex a camera was, the more he liked it, and he took everything very seriously, checking the position of the sun, and his light meter, and the distance from his subject.  Sometimes he spent so long setting things up that we all got fed up, and would wander off, but it was worth being patient because he took some beautiful photos when we were on holiday, and lovely portraits of my brother and I when we were young, and of my daughters when they were small (but not on this camera, of course). 
Anyway, now I have the camera on display I find I can look at it and smile at the memory of Dad taking his pictures and think of how much pleasure it gave him.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at West Metro Mummy.

24 comments:

  1. Awesome! I love old cameras. I remember seeing an old camera that belonged to my grandfather, who died before I was born; it was one of those that used draped cloths, etc. (He was born in the late 1800s).

    Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

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    1. Thank you. I'm glad you like the blog. This was my original blog, before books took over, so I'm trying to run the two together now! We saw cameras similar to this one in a museum while we were on holiday!

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  2. This is such a precious memory ... the camera of your Dad's, a vintage keepsake. I always think that in the old days, people were much more knowledgeable with cameras since everything had to be adjusted and set manually. Nowadays, everything is all digital, and auto, and best of all, no films needed. Even for myself... I trust the camera's auto setting much more than my own eyes. So... it's easier for me who is not so knowledgeable about cameras and lighting etc. Thanks for sharing these photos. The memories are priceless.

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    1. Dad always had a camera where he could add bits to it, and turn dials and adjust things.I think for him that was part of the magic of photography, and he always used film. But I think he would would have enjoyed trying one of the posh modern digitals where you can change lens, use filters, adjust light settings, exposure shutter speed etc.

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  3. I'm glad that you've been able to take it out and display it now, what wonderful history it is- for your father, your family and photography.

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    1. It seemed such a shame to keep it hidden away. If it could fixed I would love to try and use it - just once perhaps!

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  4. How lovely! I have my dad's typewriter and I love it, too.

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    1. Oh Deb, how wonderful. Whatever yuou do, don't get rid of it - I wish I'd kept mine. There were typewriters in the museum at Ilfracombe (we went for a few days break), as well as old cameras, and adding machines. All the older visitors (like me) were telling anyone who would listen how they once used these objects!

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    2. Both my dad's electric typewriter and my manual typewriter from childhood are long gone. When a few years back, my husband decided to discard his too, I decided to keep it. I never use it, but there was something special to old typewriters. I don't want to lose the only one we have.

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  5. Some objects are special in themselves - this is. And some objects are even more special because of who they belonged to and the memories they evoke - and this is. So this is extra special!

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    1. Margaret, what a nice thing to say. Thank you. It does conjure up some very happy memories, and it's beautifully made (my pictures really don't do it justice), which makes it special as well.

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  6. Wow! What a treasure! The age of film photography may well be passing into the digital age, but having these cameras around reminds the average photographer of the roots of the craft ... your father must be smiling at you!

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    1. I hope he is! My own interest in photography only started after his death, and after I was made redundant, but I think it would have delighted him.

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  7. Love the name of this blog. And I love the photos of the old camera. I took a camera class last fall and loved it....got an A... but do I know anything? Not really. I still just snap away.

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    1. I did a day-long course, and there was so much to take in! I can't remember half of it, and I took notes, but a lot of the time I still end up just pointing and shooting.

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    2. It's cheered me up that you like the name - at the time I started this I had been writing a Grumpy Old Woman column for the paper where I once worked, and I was very grumpy indeed! I tried changing the name, but the links and things went peculiar, so in the end I've left it.

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  8. Collector's items, for sure!

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    1. Someone once told me it's the everyday items of our lives, like cameras, and pens, and mugs, which will go on to become the antiques of the future, because they are things which are used, and not looked after, and are thrown away, so they will be rare.

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  9. Besides being a family heirloom, that's a fascinating piece of history. I doubt there were very many of them made. I remember my mom telling me how rare it was to own a camera back in those days.

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    1. Surprisingly Leslie, I gather there are still quite a few of these around, but I imagine for people like Dad's family cameras would have been a luxury they couldn't afford. It certainly wouldn't have been a present for him as a child, and my guess is that he got it after he left home - perhaps someone gave it to him because they had a new one.

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  10. I'm so glad you're displaying that. You must think of your dad every time you see it. I guess they called it a "pocket" camera because it was small by the standards of the day.

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    1. All I can say is that a)They must have had jolly big pocket,s and b)I hate to think how big the other cameras must have been. But I really glad I have it out display now, and I van smile memories.

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  11. Years ago, my husband gave me a camera from his college photojournalism days. Although it's a 35mm, and neither of us now use these, I've kept it because of what the camera meant to him.

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