Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

4 x 5 Hawk-eye, Jr.

Blair Camera Company

Name: The 4 x 5 Hawk-eye, Jr
Manufacturer: Blair Camera Co.
Country of Origin: United States
Construction: Leather covered wooden box camera for rollfilm (25 exposures) or plates. Concealed buttons provide access through hidden doors to load the film or plateholders. Refer to the description below.
Production Period: 1895 - ?
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Plate / Film Size: 4 x 5 plates or roll-film (3½" x 3½")
Lens: Single achromatic
Shutter: Dual speed shutter
Dimensions (w x h x l): 6½" x 5¾" x 9"
Date of this Example: c1896
Serial Number: Serial #1339 (?) stamped onto front immediately below manufacturer name stamp.
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 339


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Leather covered box camera for rollfilm or plates that defied identification for some time until a fellow collector was able to supply an advert from an 1896 catalogue that confirmed its identity as a 4 x 5 Hawk-Eye Junior. It is similar in design to the smaller Hawk-Eye Jr.

The camera has side compartments to take rollfilm (operated by hidden buttons on the front of the camera), but using a mechanism that is more like an integrated rollfilm holder since there is an additional wooden roller in the right hand side compartment (viewed from front) and integrated counter. The film counter is numbered (engraved on wheel) to 25. The film spools are at the front of the camera and presumably the film had to be threaded through slots to the back of the camera body and then through the other side to the opposite compartment to the take-up spool.

The left hand film compartment is marked with a patent date of Feb'y 25, 1890. Inside the rear door it is stamped with two patent dates: March 29 '87 and May 20 '90.

The camera has dual viewfinders. Focusing is controlled by a slider that acts directly upon the lens, which moves back and forth through a hole in a fixed panel that forms the front of the main chamber within the camera. Access to the plateholder is via a hinged section at the back, with a distinctive sprung catch.

The camera is in very fine order, with only minimal marking to the leather. The felt edging to the rollfilm guides is about the only thing showing obvious signs of age. Single 4 x 5 plateholder present (no markings).

According to the 1896 catalogue entry, this camera sold for $16.