Artifact Feature: Pony Premno No.6 Camera

Artifact Feature

Pony Premno No.6 Camera

Camera, 1810-1910, Wood; Skin; Metal; Glass, 104.41.0007

This small, bellows camera is a Pony Premno No.6. The Premno camera line was produced by the Rochester Optical Company. As technology changed and photography became more popular, the wants of the average consumer also changed. No longer did the heavy and cumbersome cameras of the past have a place in the everyday life of an amateur photographer. They wanted a lighter, less bulky camera that was easily transported. 

This particular camera has a 9 x 12 cm quarter plate, f/ 4.5 150 mm Planatograph lens, and a Bausch & Lomb pneumatic shutter [2]. It also has a tilting and reversing back, which allows for either portrait or landscape pictures to be taken. The ground glass screen is a ". . . sheet of glass with matted surface, placed in the plane to be occupied by the sensitized plate. When the image on screen is sharp the camera [is] correctly focused [1]." Many of these types of cameras are valued because of the unique materials they were made of. The materials that were used frequently included pig, lizard, or crocodile skins, exotic woods such as mahogany and teak, and various metals such as gold and silver [1].

Camera, 1810-1910, Wood; Skin; Metal; Glass, 104.41.0007

The pneumatic shutter of this camera was created by Bausch & Lomb. Originally an optician, John Jacob Bausch emigrated to America in 1850, he set up a shop in 1853 called J. J. Bausch Optician [2]. By 1864, a man named Henry Lomb joined his company and it was renamed Bausch and Lomb, Optician. After the death of Lomb, the company changed its name multiple times until eventually settling on Bausch and Lomb Inc. just after the Second World War [2]. As many are aware, this company still exists today.  

The Rochester Optical Company was founded out of the purchase of W. H. Walker's Wm. H. Walker and Company by W. F. Carlton in 1883 [3]. Located in Rochester, New York, this company underwent many changes. In 1893, the Premno line of cameras was added. In 1899, five companies joined to found the Rochester Optical and Camera Company [3]. Unfortunately, this new company was unsuccessful and was purchased by George Eastman and the Kodak Company in 1903. The name then went through many changes including being changed back to the Rochester Optical Company. In 1907, it became Rochester Optical Division of Eastman Company and finally in 1918, the Rochester Optical Department [2]. In 1912, the Kodak Company released the 'Pocket Kodak,' which allowed for the average person to take up to 127 pictures on one roll of film [1]. The development of roll film was revolutionary [1]. The Premno line was finally abandoned between 1921-1926.   

This particular camera belonged to the collection of Catharine Robb Whyte (pictured below) and was donated to the Whyte Museum after her death in 1979. 

[Catharine Whyte in front of her home in Banff],
[ca.1965], Peter and Catharine Whyte fonds

However, the camera originally belonged and was used by Mary Schäffer Warren (pictured below). Out of the thousands of photographs that were taken over the period of Mary's life, it would be an ambitious task to determine which images were indeed taken with this camera. 

[Mary Schäffer and Billy Warren], 1906-1911,
Moore Family fonds (V439/PS-06)


[1] Auer, Michael. The Illustrated History of the Camera from 1839 to the Present. Translated and Adapted by D.B. Tubbs. Boston: New York Geographic Society, 1975. 

[2] Kingslake, Rudolf. "A History of the Rochester, NY Camera and Lens Companies." In The Rochester Camera and Lens Companies. Rochester, New York: Photographic Historical Society, 1974. Accessed November 27, 2018. 

[3] Museums Victoria Collections. Item ST 25533, Camera, Rochester Optical Co., 1892-1899. Accessed November 27, 2018.


Popular posts from this blog

In Castle Mountain's Shadow: The Story of Silver City

The Swiss Guides in the Canadian Rockies

The Beach House Hotel: Lake Minnewanka's First Hotel