a c1890 Photosphere camera

c1890 Photosphere camera
at fall PHSC fair

Toronto. In 1871, Dr Richard Maddox in the UK announced the dry plate process which replaced wet-plate photography which for decades was a standard process replacing the Daguerreotype in popularity. Dry plate went on to be the under pinnings of film photography, lasting in one form or another until the digital era we use today.

For the first time in the short history of photography there was a sensitive media available that demanded a shutter to expose in daylight and exposure accuracy since processing and exposure could now be separated significantly by time. In the late 1800s a strange little camera was offered by the French company “Compagnie Française de Photographie” in Paris. Called the Photosphere, this metal camera had a hemispherical front to house the unusual hemispherical shutter. The odd looking camera survived for just over a decade.

A “Hercule” bicycle clamp was offered in 1900, just before it ceased manufacture. By the way, Our speaker this month is Lorne Shields,  an avid collector of old bicycles, their images, and bicycle ephemera. He is a well know bicycle historian.

In the decade plus that the Photosphere was made, it evolved from a small single glass plate model to  various larger sizes plus a stereo model,  and was offered as well with a 12 plate magazine back.

One early model was on display at the recent PHSC Fall Fair for close to two thousand dollars. An example also exists at International Museum of Photography at the GEH in Rochester. See details in the late Eaton S Lothrop‘s book “A Century of Cameras“. Eaton spoke to us in June 1999, three months before I began to photograph and post the presentations.  His topic: “My 37 Years of Collecting”.

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