Kodak Brownie

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Brownies

The name "Brownie" was a trademark used by Kodak for an enormous variety of cameras, over an 80-year history. The common theme of all the cameras bearing the brand is that they were intended as affordable snapshot-takers, with few or no exposure or focus adjustments provided.

The original box Brownie camera was introduced in 1900, for a new 117 film format yielding 6 exposures 2-1/4" square. One of the final appearances of the Brownie name occurred with a 110-cartridge camera, the 1987 Kodak Brownie II manufactured in Brazil.

In the intervening years, Brownie cameras were sold which used 117, 120, 116, 124, 122, 125, 130, 127, 620, and 110 film sizes.[1] One historically significant introduction was the No.2 Brownie of 1901. This model introduced 120 film,[2] which later proved to be the longest-surviving of all roll film sizes.

At the time of the first 1900 model, the name "Brownie" would have been familiar to the North American public as a series of elf-like cartoon characters, introduced in 1883 by Canadian writer and illustrator Palmer Cox, which drew on the brownies of Scottish folk tradition[3]. Kodak advertised early Brownie cameras with its own drawings of elf-like creatures, but these do not seem to have been drawn by or licensed from Palmer Cox.[4]

The Brownie name is also considered to be a tribute to Kodak's camera designer Frank Brownell, whose designs contributed much to Kodak's early success. His Brownie design (a simple cardboard box-camera priced at just USD $1.00) was affordable even for children, thus carrying Kodak's goal of affordable mass-market photography even further.

Considering its long history, one can't rule out the possibility of the Brownie name reappearing again some day, presumably on a simple Kodak digital camera.

Notes and References

  1. Brownie Model list at The Brownie Camera Page.
  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).
  3. Palmer Cox (1840–1924), Creator of The Brownies at Townships Heritage Webmagazine, Quebec, Canada
  4. Brownie Camera Links from Palmer Cox history posted at the Freemason's Grand Lodge of BC and Yukon, Canada.

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