Hey everyone, if you have been on a tour or visited our gift shop then you have probably noticed this lovely wood and iron camera sitting in the corner. Well today, we are going to delve deeper into this mysterious relic of photography history.
This is a Century camera made by the Eastman Kodak Co probably around 1905, as the Eastman Kodak company purchased the Century Camera company in 1903. This one is probably the Grand Studio model and used glass plate film. For those of us that don’t remember this photography medium, glass plate film also called photographic plates, used light-sensitive emulsion of silver salts coated on a thin glass plate. Glass plates were far superior to film for research-quality imaging because they were extremely stable and less likely to bend or distort. Photographic plates declined in the consumer market in the early 20th century as more convenient and less fragile films were increasingly adopted. Our Grand Studio Century camera sits on a Semi-Centennial #2 wood and iron frame, and was probably from around the same time if not earlier then the actual camera that sits upon it. The camera stand was sold to professional photographers as the “Camera Stand of the Future”, as it allowed for maneuverability of the camera to be raised or lowered, the use of quieter rubber casters and coil spring counterbalances. This lovely wood camera comes with a possibly even older brass lens from the French optical company, Darlot, which was founded in Paris by Jamin-Darlot in the 1850’s. These types of lens saw a boom during the end of the 1800’s as the burgeoning field of photography was becoming more wide spread. Possibly this historic camera has taken millions of photos from a professional photography studio within a large city at a time when the field of photography was firmly taking a hold on our country.
So if you are ever in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia on Monday, Wednesday or Friday come on by for a tour and get your photograph standing next to this lovely piece of photographic history.