December 14, 2015


December 14, 2015 {348/365} Baby Brownie

"Collect things you love, that are authentic to you
and your home becomes a story. " ~ Erin Flett, designer

Meet my "Baby" -- a 1934 Baby Brownie camera. Made of fragile bakelite and originally costing only $1, this tiny camera, designed by Walter Dorwin Teague, was very popular with World War II military personnel. I wonder if my dad had one. I almost overlooked this tiny treasure while searching for a piece of furniture last month. (I did find a great piece, by the way -- a card catalogue from the late 1910's/early 1920's. More on that to come...)

I've never been a saver. As a literature major, I certainly have a selection of books, but would you call it a collection? Never one for knick-knacks or tchotchkes (or any clutter for that matter), I don't even buy t-shirts or postcards while on vacation. I prefer natural souvenirs like shells, sea glass, or heart-shaped rocks, and of course, my own photographs, although I've only printed one. Yet, suddenly, I seem to have a collection of vintage cameras. Earlier this year, there were two. Is two a collection?

First there was this Zeiss Ikon Nettar, circa 1934 (also known as Bob 510). I did express an interest in vintage cameras while strolling through an antique shop with friends last fall. I like the idea of beautiful artistic pieces that create more beautiful artistic pieces. Eric bought this pre-war, German camera for me last Christmas. I especially like the bellows and that tiny red accent!  

Two months later, I received this Kodak Brownie Target Six-16 as a birthday gift. Produced between 1946 and 1951, its clean, linear design reflects the emerging mid-century modern aesthetic. Now with the addition of my Baby Brownie, I have three vintage cameras -- an official collection.  So what's next?

Maybe a Beau Brownie, circa 1930-1933: Walter Dorwin Teague's deco design and colors are stunning. Given the choice, I don't know which one I'd choose. (These are displayed in the Milwaukee Art Museum.)
Or this Kodak Bantam Special, circa 1936: I love the Art Deco design of the black, enamel, clamshell case! (This one is also on display at the Milwaukee Art Museum.) Peak inside:  It's a gadget worthy of James Bond!