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The page highlights reference books of interest to all collectors of photographica.   If you have a favourite reference book, write a brief review using the material on this page as a guide and e-mail it to   Include the word reference book in the subject area.   Please be brief...   we may edit your submission at our discretion.  

Note that many of these books are long out of print. Antiquarian or Used Book dealers may track down copies for you. If you have a favourite source for books and would like to share it, send me an e-mail at

Index to Coe's Kodak Cameras Book
Brian Coe's wonderful book on Kodak Cameras now has an index listing the cameras by model thanks to Ralph London, editor of the Cascade Panorama, journal of the Cascade Panorama Camera Collectors in Portland Oregon. Our editor, Bob Lansdale did another layout of the material which is available here as a zipped Acrobat PDF file which can be read and printed using the free Adobe Acrobat Reader program. Click here to view the index on line with your browser and Acrobat. 

Miniature and Precision Cameras
J.   Lipinski, Iliffe & Sons Ltd., London 1955.   300p, Black & white diagrams and illustrations.
I bought this book new in 1958.   Lipinski provides a very readable explanation of the technical aspects of camera and lens design.   In addition to general discussion of technical issues, he covers a few cameras in some detail including the IIIf Leica, post war Contax, Rolleiflex, and Graphic/Graflex.   A fascinating discussion of camera mechanisms without the marketing hype.

Images & Enterprise (technology and the American photographic industry 1839 - 1925)
Reese V.   Jenkins, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore 1975.   371p, Black & white diagrams and illustrations.
This book is one of the titles in the Studies in the History of Technology series.   This is an excellent, well footnoted history of the industry.   The book covers five periods: Daguerreotype, Collodion, Gelatin Plate, Amateur Roll Film, and Silent Cinematography.   The personalities, mergers, lawsuits, and conflicting claims and rhetoric make for fascinating reading.   It puts to rest many of the myths of the lone creative inventor and shows the importance of business acumen, and the bubbling cauldron of ideas building on one another.  

Photography: Essays & Images.
Beaumont Newhall, editor, Museum of Modern Art, New York 1980.   325p, numerous black & white illustrations.
Over fifty articles and essays spanning the period from 1760 to 1971 and embracing some of the key moments in the history of photography.   Read the words of Wedgwood and Davy on their experiments with silver nitrate in 1802; The first news accounts of the Daguerreotype, January 6th, 1839 (the day before its formal announcement); Frederick Archer's words on his use of Collodion in 1851, and many others.   The later material has an American focus, but the earlier papers are worth the price.  

The History of Photography (from the camera obscura to the beginning of the modern era)
Helmut and Alison Gernsheim, Thames and Hudson, London 1969 (Revised and Enlarged).   598p Black & white illustrations and plates.
In 1971, I happened across a brief notice about this book in an American photography magazine, and asked my favourite bookseller in Montreal to order it for me.   I was totally unprepared for the size of the book and its detail and images.   Well before the surge of interest in the roots of photography, Gernsheim and his wife did a phenomenal job of tracing the history and mapping out the sequence of events, including tracking down what is considered to be the oldest remaining photograph.   (Taken by Niepce around 1824, the Gernsheim's discovered it along with supporting letters in London in 1952!)

I had the pleasure of meeting Helmut Gernsheim at the Photo History V seminar in Rochester in 1982.   Extensively annotated and detailed story of our favourite topic.  

Private Realms of Light- amateur photography in Canada 1839 - 1940.
Lilly Kolton, editor, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Toronto 1984.   335p high quality colour and black & white images.
This large, high quality volume is a tribute to the caliber of work by Canadian amateurs.   The text is by members of the National Photography Collection, Public Archives Canada.   Printing is very fine quality, with numerous black & white images closely matching the tones and shades of the original prints.   In addition to the main articles, there are numerous sidebars on various topics like Platinum Print, Kodachrome, and Sanger Shepherd Method.   An extensive gallery of images is followed by an equally impressive section of biographies of the photographers represented in the book.  

Canadian Photography 1839 -1920
Ralph Greenhill and Andrew Birrell, The Coach House Press, Toronto 1979.   171+p high quality black & white images.
This is an extensively revised and expanded version of Greenhill's book Early Photography in Canada published by Oxford University Press in 1965.   It is the first book I came across devoted to a Canadian perspective on the history of photography. The emphasis is on the practitioners of the new art and the social aspects of photography.   Many interesting images.   As a side note, The Coach House Press fell victim to government austerity in 1996.   The quality of printing and limited audience for many its books made it difficult to survive without assistance.

Benjamin Baltzy: 1871.
Andrew Birrell, The Coach House Press, Toronto 1978.   159+p high quality black & white images
A key event in the history of our great country was the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway from coast to coast.   In fact, the railway was a major factor in British Columbia's decision to join the confederation in 1871.   Prime Minister Sir John A.   MacDonald appointed Sandford Fleming, inventor of standard time, as chief engineer on the project.   Flemming in turn dispatched 10 surveying parties to determine the best route west from Ontario.   The BC portion through the Rockies was considered the greatest challenge.   BC's Joseph Trutch promoted the idea of a Geological Survey to accompany the railway survey.   Montreal photographer William Notman was approached to provide two photographers to join the small Geological survey team.   He chose Baltzy and Baltzy's assistant, John Hammond.   Baltzy was a photographer in Ohio for thirty years before joining Notman.   This is the story of his experiences in the BC wilderness.   Many images from the trip are provided along with a reprint of articles in the Montreal Gazette published in the summer of 1872, the year after the survey.

A History of the Photographic Lens
Rudolf Kingslake, Academic Press, Inc.   San Diego 1989.   334p black & white drawings and illustrations.
Rudolf Kingslake spent his lifetime designing and teaching about lenses and optics.   Born in London England, he moved to the States in 1929 to help establish The Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester.   In 1937 he became head of the lens design department at Eastman Kodak, returning to the University on retiring from Kodak.   The Introduction chapter gives a brief outline of the issues addressed by lens designers, a short historical survey of design evolution, traditional lens markings, basics of identifying unmarked lenses, recent design developments, some observations on patents, and a list of references.   One chapter is devoted to optical glass, a second to lens attachments, and a third to biographies of lens designers.   The rest of the book discusses lenses in some detail.   The chapters and sections group the lenses by design family (eg Early Double Objectives, Anastigmats, triplets, etc.).   Lenses discussed include the first daguerreotype lens by Chevalier, its successor, the Petzval design manufactured by Voigtländer, the pantoskop, Zeiss Protars and Tessars, and the Leitz lenses designed by Dr. Mandler in Midland, Ontario.

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