A key criteria for this book was to not just show cameras and count the number of rivets on the back (how many books have done that in the past? Yawn.) but to add items of packaging and illustrations from the instruction manuals, and advertisements from the times to place everything in a relevant social and cultural time zone.
Sourcing the items in the Retromania collection was reasonably straight forward, but the hard part was the research, and that’s where the manuals helped. Two excellent sources were OTC in the UK and CameraBooks in the USA – providing last-ditch information right up to the time that the book went to press. Another invaluable aid was a collection of British Journal of Photography Almanacs that were crammed with advertisements and historical data.
An early advert for the Ensign Midget shows just how small it was by placing it in the palm of a hand also highlighting that ‘miniature’ cameras have been around a long time. The Midget’s USP was that it would fit easily into a lady’s purse.
The Purma Special had ‘space age curves’, a sophisticated ‘gravity’ shutter system and was showcased at the very first British Sci-Fi convention which must have impressed Arthur C. Clarke who was in attendance.
This mint condition Brownie 127 camera, with an excellent booklet, was discovered in a charity shop in a box full of junk. A little treasure.
Coronet’s “Flash Master” camera came with equally electrifying box art and the Halina 35X booklet proudly exclaimed that the camera was for “Colour AND black and white” photography. There was a distinctly ‘cold war’ attitude to the Kiev 4 manual cover with it’s cheap looking print quality and old camera design (based on stolen German models from the 1930s) contrasting with the revolutionary Canon Dial with its radical modern design and “Mary Quant”hair-styled model.
Retromania is now available in all good bookshops