who needs bells and whistles?

1939 ad for a $15 UniveX movie camera

Toronto. 1939 – what a year! The great depression of the dirty ’30s was a decade old and rapidly becoming part of the landscape. One of the worst wars ever (WW2) was about to erupt in Europe inspite of Hitler’s platitudes and the optimism of others.

Universal Camera Corp (UniveX) of the Big Apple, like many Kodak wannabe’s in America was busy flogging its special fifteen dollar home movie camera that used 69 cent film and had, “sensational high-priced features“.

This particular ad from the April 1939 issue of  Popular Mechanics shows a UniveX movie camera with a “faster f/4.5 lens” and a “built-in view-finder“. It was touted as having, “the simplicity of operation – the dependable performance – the thrilling life-like results you’d expect only from high-priced cameras“. While $15 dollars looks dirt cheap today, in 1939 it was easily a week’s wage for those in the target audience.

According to the ad the camera was as easy to use as taking snapshots – and cheaper!

A big thank you goes to my good friend George Dunbar for findings and sharing this advertisement with us. While we mostly collect still cameras and images in the PHSC, everyone seems to have an odd 8mm or 16mm movie camera in their collection too.

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