Gaumont Block-Notes

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The Block-Notes is a strut folding camera for 4.5×6 cm or 6.5×9 cm plates, made by Gaumont in Paris, from about 1904 (the smaller model) and about 1909 (the larger) until 1924.[1] It was available with a fixed-focus f/9 Hermagis anastigmat lens, or with faster lenses including a Tessar (on the example shown here, this is a Krauss-Zeiss lens, i.e. made by E. Krauss of Paris under licence from Zeiss; other similar examples have been seen;[2][3] however, one example sold at Westlicht is listed as having a CZJ Tessar).[4] Some cameras have a focusing mechanism (operated by the knurled wheel on the rear body in the example illustrated) which pushes the rear end of the struts in and out of the body. This mechanism is the subject of a patent only applied for in 1910, so is probably absent on all cameras earlier than that year.[5] Certainly some examples of the Block-Notes are fixed-focus: Early Photography shows a fixed-focus example, which is, however, equipped with a ground-glass screen, and two auxiliary close-up lenses.[6]

The front part of the Newton-type viewfinder is set in a frame that slides along the lens board for storage when the camera is not in use (and also covers the lens). The shutter is cocked by pulling this finder frame into its working position. A ground-glass screen can also be fitted. The example illustrated here has an optional plate magazine back fitted; single plate-holders can also be used.[4]

The shutter is a guillotine type; the blade moves under spring tension, with five instantaneous speeds, regulated pneumatically,[6] plus 'B'.

A stereo model, the Block-Notes Stereo was made from about 1904,[6] in sizes for 4.5×10.7 cm and 6×13 cm plates.[7][3]


  1. 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).} p338.
  2. 4.5×6 cm Block-Notes serial no. 12808, with 72 mm f/4.5 Krauss-Zeiss Tessar, plate magazine and yellow filter, sold at the sixteenth Westlicht auction, on 5 December 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 6.5×9 cm Block-Notes with 112 mm f/4.5 Tessar lens, and 6×13 cm Block-Notes Stereo, sold at the fourth Westlicht auction, on 22 November 2003.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.5×6 cm Block-Notes serial no. 4230, with a 7.5 cm f/6.3 Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar, and with single plate-holders, sold at the fifteenth Westlicht auction, on 23 May 2009.
  5. French Patent 423350 (applied for by Gaumont in 1910 and granted in 1911) describing the focus mechanism used in the Block-Notes, at Espacenet, the patent search facility of the European Patent Office.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 4.5×6 cm Block-Notes with 72 mm f/6.5 Krauss Tessar (with only two aperture stops, not an iris) at Early Photography.
  7. 4.5×10.7 cm Block-Notes Stereo with f/5.5 Anastigmat lenses, sold at the nineteenth Westlicht auction, on 28 May 2011.