M967.103.3.1-2 | Camera

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Creative Commons License
About 1897, 19th century or 20th century
11.4 x 11.4 x 15.2 cm
Gift of Mrs. Violet Lefèbvre
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Camera (6)
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Keys to History

Until the very late 1880s, photography was essentially the preserve of professionals and the enlightened amateurs and curious few who were not put off by the harmful chemical fumes or the long hours spent in the darkroom. The introduction of Kodak cameras revolutionized photography. Anyone could take pictures without knowing much about technique: "You Press the Button, We Do the Rest," was Kodak's famous promise. This marked the advent of amateur photography.

  • What

    The term "Kodak," coined in 1888, is an onomatopoeia describing the clicking sound of the shutter of the new camera manufactured by the Eastman Dry Plate Company founded in 1881. The simplicity of the camera marketed by the Eastman Kodak Company was a key factor in its popularity with amateurs. This camera came with photographic film, a new invention used for the first time in the Kodak no. 1.

  • Where

    The Eastman Kodak Company was founded in 1892 in Rochester, NY. The Canadian Kodak Company was founded in Toronto in 1899. In Montreal, it was not before 1902 that Kodak supplies and equipment could be purchased at the Montreal Photographic Supply Co., a store located at the corner of Peel and Notre Dame Streets.

  • When

    Available from 1895 to 1913, this popular camera sold for about eight dollars (U.S.) when it first went on the market. This was equivalent to the average weekly wage of a Canadian worker in 1901.

  • Who

    George Eastman (1854-1932) built a successful company on the following four principles: mass production at low cost, international distribution, extensive advertising and listening to consumers. The Kodak Company used persuasive sales strategies, for example, encouraging photographers to create an "illustrated history" of their lives. From 1904 to 1911, it even organized contests and travelling exhibits and gave prizes for the best photos taken with its supplies and equipment.