Recently, a diversion from Polaroid has been the beautiful little Kodak Brownie cameras. What these little cameras lack in features and high performance, they more than make up for in beautiful industrial design, pictures with depth and tonality, and decade after decade reliability. The little Great American Cameras just go, and go, and go. The legendary bakelite bodied Baby Brownie Special, which was introduced in 1939, caught my eye a few weeks back at a consignment shop. It has a very cool Art Deco look. Think Empire State Building meets Rochester, NY industrial design. A simple “box camera”, it replaced the original Baby Brownie, adding an optical viewfinder, and a slightly improved Kodet glass meniscus lens. The camera had a 15 year run, which ended in 1954.
The most interesting selling feature of this camera came when I opened it up, and much to my amazement, found a roll of Ansco All-Weather 127 film, which had been exposed by the previous owner. Knowing that Ansco 127 film was likely rather old film, curiousity kicked in. I had to see what was on this roll of film. After consulting with several “in the know” film photographers, including Michael Raso, host of The Film Photography Podcast (http://filmphotographypodcast.com/) , the general consensus was that Blue Moon Camera and Machine, in Portland, Oregon, ( http://bluemooncamera.com/) would be able to pull any images off the roll.
Less than week after sending the film in, I got an e-mail from Blue Moon:
We’ve developed your black-and-white film; there’s a rather heavy level
of base fog, but there are 5 images on the film that should be
Now excitement sets in. Who, or what, is on the film? How old are these images, which have not been seen, ever? Where were they taken? The folks at Blue Moon called me last Friday, to finalize development and printing charges. The processed images were mailed from Oregon on Saturday, and I had them on Monday. What showed up in my mailbox was nothing less than spectacular. The images displayed above have not been seen by anyone in decades.
After making extra prints, I set out to bring them to the consignment shop. The owner had records and contact information of the owner of the little Brownie that I had bought. She called the woman up. Were these her images? Was she one of the little girls?
It turns out, the answer is most likely, yes, to both. Not only are they her images, but she believes that she is the little girl with the cat’s eye glasses on the beach. Our timing in contacting her was a bit off, as she was packing for vacation. But the prints are at the consignment shop, waiting confirmation and verification. I hope to know in about a week to 10 days, and to chat with this woman, once it is confirmed these images are hers.