Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Beau Brownie

Eastman Kodak Co.

Name: Beau Brownie No 2
Manufacturer: Eastman Kodak Co.
Country of Origin: USA
Construction: A basic box camera of metal construction, with a textured leatherette covering and with a two-tone enamelled front face. Made in five colourways identified as black, tan, blue, green and rose.
Coe [4] notes that the choice of the Doublet lens allowed the body to be shorter than that of the conventional No 2 box cameras.
Plate / Film Size: 120 rollfilm
Lens: Doublet
Shutter: Simple rotary shutter
Movements: None
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Production Period: 1930 - 1933

While still a basic box camera for 120 film, similar in construction to many of the Hawkeye box cameras, this is set apart from others by its distinctive art deco styling once again inspired by Walter Dorwin Teague.

The camera was made in two sizes: the No 2 for 120 film and the No 2A for 116 film. Both were available in five colourways identified as black, tan, blue, green and old rose. The green and old rose were only made for a short period between 1930 and 1931 and were only available in the US. The front panel has a geometric design that is picked out in two colours with borders picked out in bright metal (names are my choice rather than anything stated by Kodak), as follows:

The colours are generally obvious when seen, although occasionally the blue and green are confused, not least due to discolouration that can occur with age in the leatherette covering the body. One of the best discriminators is to check the colour of the surround to the winder key which corresponds to the base colour of the camera.

Special cases were also available to match the colour of the leatherette used on the camera body. The cases are of an unusual shape, being designed to hold spare film in the base.

Thumbnail of Gift Kodaks Advert

The Beau Brownie is but one of a number of significant cameras that were styled by Walter Dorwin Teague. You might also want to look at the Baby Brownie, the Gift Kodak, the Vanity Kodak, the Petite and to my mind the best of them all, the Bantam Special.

The advert shown on the left is taken from the Canadian Home Journal, dated December 1931. It features the Coquette Package, based upon the lightening bolt patterned Petite camera, but below it also shows the Gift Kodak and the Beau Brownie, listing all five colour combinations. The price of the Beau Brownie No 2 is $4.25 and the No 2A is $5.25.

Curiously, this advert is in black and white rather than colour!

Click on the thumbnail image to open a larger version in a new window.

 

Model / Variant: Black
Date of this Example: 1930 - 1933
Serial Number: None
Availability:
  • Common [x]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 161

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Description

Burgundy & black face plate, with 'Eastman Kodak Co." at the base of the enamel plate. The handle is intact & original. There is minimal wear to the casing.

The enamel is in good condition with only very minor marking. Bodywork is in very good condition, although the covering is lifting very slightly on the rear face.

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Model / Variant: Tan
Date of this Example: 1930 - 1933
Serial Number: None
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 236

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Description

Tan face plate, but without any labelling at bottom edge (other examples show 'Eastman Kodak Co.").

The handle is intact & original, with slight separation on both ends.

There is minimal wear to casing - just a slight indentation on the side with the winder. Note that the chrome lines on this version are slightly narrower than the examples carrying the 'Eastman Kodak Co' name on the face plate.

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Model / Variant: Blue
Date of this Example: 1930 - 1933
Serial Number: None
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 162

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Description

Blue face plate, with 'Eastman Kodak Co." at the base of the enamel plate. There is slight wear around the lens surround.

The handle is intact & original, with slight separation on the front edge. There is minimal wear to the leatherette covering the body but it has changed shade with age such that it appears rather more green than blue, a common feature of this variant.

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Variant: Green
Date of this Example: 1930 - 1931
Serial Number: None
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 487

<Photographs to be added>

Description

Green face plate, with 'Eastman Kodak Co." at base of enamel plate.

The handle is intact & original, with slight separation on front edge and a kink in the middle.

There is minimal wear to the casing, which has retained much of its original colour. Slight wear around the lens surround, but generally very clean. The green model (as with the rose model ) were only made for a short period between 1930 - 1931 and so are much harder to find.

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Model / Variant: Rose
Date of this Example: 1930 - 1931
Serial Number: None
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 548

<Photographs to be added>

Description

Rose face plate, but without any labelling at bottom edge (other examples show 'Eastman Kodak Co.").

The handle is missing on this example.

Minimal wear to the camera casing, which has retained much of its original colour, though slightly dull. Slight wear around the lens surround and some nicks around the edges of the enamel plate, but generally clean.

This example came with the remnants of the original matching case (the lid is missing and the case is worn). The odd shaped case is designed to hold two spare films in the bottom.

The rose model was only made for a short period between 1930 - 1931 and so is much harder to find; its selling price is also influenced by collector's enthusiasm for this particular colour.

Notes

In Europe the No 2A is much less common and not generally in circulation (in fact I can't remember ever seeing one that seemed to be of original supply). The black, blue and tan in the No 2 size are comparatively easy to find. The green and rose were not retailed outside the US and so you need to look further afield for examples unless sourcing from another collector - and be ready to pay quite a lot more. The rose colour quite often sells for ridiculous amounts.

The condition of the faceplate is obviously quite key when looking for an example to add to a collection. They can often be quite dirty but will clean up well. However, check carefully for chips or deep scratches to the enamel. The leatherette on the body can also discolour; in my experience this seems to be particularly prevalent with the blue colour, which appears to turn green with age (and perhaps exposure to light), just to add to the potential for confusion between the blue and green variants!

The handles often fragment and in many examples will have been discarded when they broke. The handle is a weak point as it has to be removed at one end to open the camera when replacing the film. It often separates into its constituent layers or breaks at one or other hole. Quite often you will find replacement handles fitted or more often it will be missing completely, as with some of mine.