Sunday, October 11, 2009

Vintage Camera #1

I was given 3 vintage cameras last week. They had been sitting in my mother's wardrobe for nearly 40 years. Having sold her house the time had come to purge things she didn't need and I bagged the cameras. My interest in them is purely to do with my interest in all things photographic, however my mother had approached an auction house earlier to see if she could get some money for them, and was told they were worthless.

I have to disagree. They aren't worthless to me, and in researching them, I've found one of them to be very rare and worth quite a lot of money. However, I'm still not interested in selling - I love them for their historic value. Who knows, this may be the start of my vintage camera museum!

I've managed to find out quite a bit about two of the cameras, but this one, the oldest one has me scratching my head to it's make and year.

It looks very similar to the Wirgin 1935 Auta - but when it's opened up, there are marked differences..

You can look at the photo of a Wirgin Auta here

You'll see the body and straps and the same - it's just the lens that is quite different.

As you can see the shutter is a pronto made by the Gauthier company which was was founded in 1902 and started building shutters from 1904. Carl Zeiss who already had a stake in this company as in Compur took over the majority in 1932 - the end of competition in the shutter production in Germany . In 1957 over 3.000 workers produced up to 10.000 shutters daily and from 1970 Gauthier even took over the production of Compur shutters. More on the AGC shutters can be found here

This is the back of it.

The camera is in good working condition and I am going to try and source some film and try it out in the coming weeks.

I'm really interested in finding out what year this camera is and what it actually is. If anyone can help me it would be very much appreciated. I suspect it's circa 1935 through to 1945.


Christopher Lehfeldt said...

Hi Robyn,

There's a fantastic collection of vintage cameras at our local photography museum, founded by George Eastman, who founded Kodak here in Rochester. You can probably contact the curator there and ask him/her if she/he recognizes your old camera. He/she might even purchase it for the collection?

I'll look up the link to the museum.


Christopher Lehfeldt said...

Do you have any photographs that your mother might have taken from that era -- 1935 to 1945? Obviously if she had used this very same camera, you'd see photographs pasted in a family scrapbook, and you can thus find out what kind of photographic paper was used, and then the kind of film being used inside this camera?

So thrilled that your mother kept this camera for ages.


Anonymous said...

I am not sure where my mother got the camera from, it was probably my fathers. Not sure if there are any photos taken with it at all but I will do some digging :)

I think it uses a 127 medium format, we have a place here that will help with that. But I'm sure going to give it a try :)

Anonymous said...

Can only buy the 127 film at B&H - two films costing me a total of $16.95 will cost $60 usd to post out here. Unbelievable!!!

Will have to wait util I know someone is visiting.

Chris - you don't want a NZ holiday yet do you?

Christopher Lehfeldt said...

Just checked the collection of old cameras at the George Eastman House (museum set up by Kodak's founder); didn't see any German-made cameras. Many cameras from the 20s and 30s.

Have you gotten a response from the curator?


Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

Yes - they got back to me - and it's a 1932 Wirgin Presto, prewar. Exciting huh?

I must find time to do the next blogs - but I have been very busy :)

My house starts building next week - When will you come and stay?


Christopher Lehfeldt said...

Morgan said...

Wow, interesting camera. And great photography of it!