Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

The Brownie Camera

Eastman Kodak Company

Name: The Brownie Camera
Manufacturer: Eastman Kodak Company
Country of Origin: USA
Construction: Simple construction of card with a wooden film carrier and detachable winder key. This original model is of simple 'shoe-box' construction with a push on back.
The camera has no integral viewfinder but has V sighting lines marked on the top face.
Production Period: February 1900 - March 1900 (push on back)
March 1900 - October 1901 (hinged back)


Plate / Film Size: 117 rollfilm (2¼" x 2¼")
Lens: Meniscus
Shutter: Rotary
Movements: None
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example: 1900
Serial Number: None
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [x]
Inventory Number: 500


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The Brownie Camera consists of a simple box constructed of cardboard, with detachable winder and optional viewfinder. This is the very first model, with the slide on back (shoe-box). This was only produced for 2 months in 1900 as it proved unreliable and was redesigned to have a hinged back. Upon introduction of the No 2 Brownie camera, the hinged back version was designed as the No 1 Brownie.

The camera has some surface damage along the top edge and on the sides of the slide on back. There is also some minor corner damage. One lower edge of the back has split.

The camera came complete with the optional finder that was introduced in July 1900 for the later model with hinged back.


According to Coe [4], most of the first batch were sent to Kodak Ltd in the UK and the camera is therefore more common in Europe than in the US. However examples are very difficult to find and are highly sought after.

When examining an example, check the edges of the back as this is prone to splitting as shown by my example here.

Acquiring this camera for the collection was something of a milestone and it quite coincidentally became the 500th camera registered in my collection database!