Appareil Dubroni

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The Appareil Dubroni is a camera for wet collodion plates, made by Maison Dubroni in Paris for a few years from about 1864. The smallest models are box cameras; the larger ones have a bellows front for focusing. The interior of the camera body is lined with glass (in the early models; indeed, McKeown states that the first cameras had no wooden sides, only an amber glass 'bottle'[1]) and later porcelain, so that sensitization, development and fixing of each plate can be done inside the camera; this was the first camera to use such a system.[2] The chemical solutions were put into and out of the camera with a bulb pipette. In the smaller cameras there is a large red window in the back of the camera, with a swivelling metal cover (or a hinged wooden one in some models), so that operations inside the camera can be viewed.[3] McKeown states that the largest cameras have a detachable 'laboratory section' at the back.[1]

The camera was invented by Jules Bourdin; "Dubroni" is an anagram of the name Bourdin; notes to an auction lot at Westlicht state that Bourdin's father did not want the family name associated with his invention.[2]

The camera was made in six sizes, the larger ones only made after the small sizes had established the success of the camera:[1][3]

  • No. 1, or Photographie de Poche, for 4 cm round exposures on 5 cm square plates[2]
  • No. 2, for 5x5 cm or 4.5x5 cm exposures
  • No. 3, or Photographie de Salon, for 7x9 cm oval exposures (very suitable for portraits)[4][5][6]
  • No. 4, with a bellows, for 10 cm-long plates.
  • No. 5, with a bellows and detachable 'laboratory' section, for 15 cm-long plates.
  • No. 6, with a bellows and detachable 'laboratory' section, for 18x24 cm plates.

Early Photography shows a No. 1 camera in some detail, and explains the processing sequence.[3]

Dubroni also made more conventional cameras.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). p251-2.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Dubroni Photographie de Poche outfit: camera for 4 cm round exposures on 5 cm square plates, with Dubroni Petzval lens, sold at the fourth Westlicht Photographica Auction, in November 2003.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Dubroni No. 1 at Early Photography.
  4. Dubroni No. 3 outfit, near-complete, including a wooden tripod, sold at the eighteenth Westlicht auction, in December 2010.
  5. Dubroni No. 3 (camera only), sold at the November 2003 Westlicht auction.
  6. Dubroni No. 3 (camera only, but with a clear photograph of the glass lining), at Albert Balasse's Le Compendium (text in French).