Blair Camera Company
undated c. 1904
|Camera catalogs at the beginning of the
20th Century often pictured a woman photographer on the cover. Probably following the lead
of George Eastman who declared that an image of a woman would sell more cameras than a
man, other Rochester camera companies such as Premo, Seneca, Graflex, and Blair frequently
used women on their covers. All of these companies were eventually taken over by Eastman
Most of the camera companies published a new catalog each year. Seneca, however, did not date their catalogs but gave them letters from A to ?, instructing photographers to "Destroy Previous Issues". Luckily for today's collectors, these instructions were disobeyed.
Unlike later advertising however, many of the early covers showed women in adventurous situations who really looked like they knew how to operate their equipment. By the 1930's camera ads, women had been reduced to decorative accessories, merely displaying rather than using the camera. This unfortunate trend continued through the 1950's and later where ads with women in swimsuits holding cameras are still not uncommon.
For this reason, with a few exceptions, I have limited my collecting interests to images of women with cameras before 1930. For examples of interesting Kodak catalog covers go to Kodakgirls on this site.