The first society devoted to the history of photography and the preservation of photo antiques
Enlightening, sometimes frustrating, often fun, and always rewarding. That's the job of being an officer of your society. Last year, in addition to our regular activities, we again met the challenge of PhotoHistory- and, with your help, did it superbly. Sure it's bragging, but PH has been done so well, so many times, much by the same people, that it runs like clock work. But it took a lot of time and energy by each of the clock winders.
Not everything about the society went as smoothly. Early into the year due to a series of unexpected illnesses I found myself holding several official positions at once. I have recommended ways your board can avoid this overload on future presidents. Overall, I'm proud to say we had a very successful year and TPHS remains a strong organization.
Will this year be different? Of course it will. Every year has its own "challenges and opportunities", as business folks like to say. That's part of the fun of running an organization. How dull business, clubs and life would be without them. So...
Dear New Leaders: We who are passing the baton leave you with enough challenges and opportunities to keep you from becoming complacent. One requirement. TPHS activities in collecting and discussing PhotoHistory must continue to be fun, as well as informative. Your major challenge remains: attracting new members. Perhaps you can find a high-tech solution. While PhotoHistory and our newsletter did go on-line last year, ours is not a very high-tech, in current parlance, hobby. That's O.K., most hobbies aren't. Who should you target as members? Who will do the missionary work? Ah, as Shakespeare said, "That's the rub." We agree, as we hand over the reins.
REMEMBER: DUES ARE DUE
Send your $20 to : Frank Calandra, Treasurer
The Photographic Historical Society, 350 Witting Road, Webster, N.Y. 14580-9009
February Gordon Brown- Photo Composition
March Speaker to be announced- Expected Topic: Zeiss
April Dick Haviland- Topic to be announced
May George Gilbert- American PHS, NYC
September Joe Bailey- Little Known Things About Unknown People - America's "Other" 35mm Camera Companies
All regular meetings begin at 7:30 pm at the Brighton Town Hall,
Lower level meeting room, 2300 Elmwood Avenue.
Guests are always welcome.
This Month's Mystery Question-
(1) What recent decision by George Eastman House/International Museum of Photography will generate money from the "sale" of its collections?
(2) And speaking of the collections, how many groups are there? What are they named? And how many items are in each one?
Answer at end of Newsletter
RIP Polaroid? Read First "The PR Word" and then "The Facts"...
The Official Word abstracted from late 1997 Polaroid press releases...
Almost 80% of Polaroid's one and a half-billion dollars in sales revenues comes from film. It might be more if dealers would display instant film. But most don't, fearing shoplifting. Lacking a display hurts "impulse buying", one of the most frequent reasons film is sold. Now, Polaroid says, they have designed displays that are shoplifter proof but shopper friendly. Some film may trigger sirens if shoplifting is attempted.
Polaroid is now a "marketing and product machine". They have replaced "engineers with pocket slide rules" with new faces from Black & Decker, RJR Nabisco and Kraft Foods-all men famous for successful marketing strategies. Stating that they will become externally oriented. No longer the pure-research based, internally oriented, company it has always been. New products will include an "arty black & white matte film that develops faster and can be written on". A disposable instant camera, a camera kit for children,and 30-40 new or improved products will be issued annually.
The new Polaroid sees their core strength as "manipulating light, not just taking pictures. So, they are introducing a series of products that reflect this philosophy. Some of these may have failed in the past because of poor marketing. Examples: A "sleek-looking" long-life flashlight based on their flat battery used in film packs. A $29.95 software package that will automatically correct "red eye" and other flaws in computer scanned photos. A $329 digital camera kit with software for altering photos-now available at K-Mart. New high fashioned sunglasses will start up from a line they stopped selling 20 years ago. Some already work. A gussied-up One-Step camera (now in it's 13th year) with a rigid strap, better flash and other cosmetic changes has seen sales jump 20%. In Japan, simple cartoon characters on the One-Step increased sales. And more important the Captiva camera which bombed 4 years ago because it made small pictures is a hit with Japanese teenage girls who love to swap small pictures. Usually they are made in digital instant photo booths.
The "Official Word" about Polaroid Corporation reported December 17, 1997 in the Wall Street Journal.
Polaroid will cut 15%, (15,000), of its world-wide work force and take a 310 million dollar pretax write-off as part of a broad cost-cutting effort. The company has been struggling for years to ignite its mature instant photography business with little success in new markets such as medical and digital imaging as well as conventional photography cameras and film. The fourth quarter was further hit by the strong dollar against Asian currencies and elsewhere. Polaroid said the restructuring will take about 18 months to complete and will generate about $110 million in annual savings. Advertising will be increased in 1998.
Polaroid hit its peak employment in 1979, when it had 21,000 workers. It will now have about 8,800. $100 million of the restructuring charge will be a near write-off of the company's four-year old factory in New Bedford, Mass. It was built to make film for a new dry medical imaging system that has largely been a flop. It also agreed to sell its Freetown, Mass., chemical manufacturing operations to International Specialty Products, which will continue to supply Polaroid with specialties used in instant film.
B. Alex Henderson, a Prudential Securities analyst, said that the big asset sales and layoffs will leave Polaroid management with little room to maneuver. "This had better work," he said, because there is not a lot left to get rid of."
We await the next press release.
A sweet start for The Return of the Disc Camera...
For the camera collector, it's one of the greatest impulse items in recent memory. There, sitting next to the check-out cash register is what looks like a NEW Disc camera! A new Disc Camera? Yep! With it's built-in "flash", it's truly a "sweet deal" for under $3!
Is it for real? Depends on what you consider "real". Whatever, after your double take, we'll bet you'll have to have a SweetTart Candy Camera. Virtually the same size and shape as a Disc camera, the flash is actually a flash light. The "film" is several rolls of Sweet Tarts housed within the camera body and dispensed from the "lens". Ours came from K-Mart.
For those evenings when you want to make a few (hundred) bucks... Preserve the past...And have a Party doing it!
Forget the Tupperware, keep the parties and you have today's fastest growing direct-sale approach. According to HFD, a newspaper for retail stores, a major trend (meaning hot sellers) among department and specialty stores is scrapbooks and photo albums. Aside from nostalgia, this has been brought on by a new emphasis on preservation. But the use of preservation materials and techniques is knowledge most people lack. How do they get the info? Same way they learned to preserve left-over food! From "Tupperware-like" parties that not only teach preservation and layout but also sell scrapbook/photo albums. Aimed at both women and men, the parties are said to be very profitable with mark-ups on materials often as high as 500%. That must be right behind custom picture framing. Sounds like a good idea for Photo History organization fund raisers.
Whatever Happened to...
>The National Educational Alliance, Inc. 37 West 47th St. NYC- publisher of the serialized 1941 Complete Photographer encyclopedia. With 4,100 pages in 50 paperback "lecture groups", 10,000 instructive photographs, hundreds in "deep-toned graveur and Full Color", providing a PERMANENT Ready-Reference Encyclopedia of all the important how-to-do-it information in the world!". Preparing the cross-index alone was said to have cost $5000 (in 1941 dollars). Advertised monthly in leading photography magazines, the booklets were very popular. Collected in optional binders, the paperbacks became an "8 volume hardback set covered in the rich warm tones of Spanish Morocco-Grained Leather and embossed and modeled in harmonizing colors of black, brown and gold." Following the war an updated, green, hardback edition was sold one volume a month for a total of about $35. They apparent sold well. As an equipment reference CP is only fair but as a basic guide to older processes, some of which are a bit obscure today, they are excellent. And why not. most of the text was provided by large manufacturers such as Kodak, Agfa-Ansco, DuPont, Graflex, etc. The most scarce volume is the thin index to the green set.
Eaton Lothrop: Expands Info on the JAZZ(y or ie) Single-Use Collection
...Plus some news for Eaton
Last issue we noted that a multicolored, musical note decorated, Jazz One-Time Use Camera with built-in flash was being sold at Wal-Mart for an economy price of 2 for $10. From Eaton Lothrop, Jr., comes additional info on the JAZZ. There are actually four different JAZZ models: two DZ50 35mm, both made from recycled Fujicolor 35mm QuickSnap Super flash shells. One shell is a Fuji dual format much like the Kodak FunSaver. However, the format switch has been removed and covered by the outer package. There is also a DC-20 model containing 110 film. This small camera is like the Fuji 110 "disposables" and the Taiwanese "Readishoot 200" from the late 1980s. The Jazz DZ20 was probably made in the Ô90s, apparently in China.
And this flash to Eaton: The head of the company selling JAZZ cameras is Jack Benum, former head of Concord Camera and a man of many ventures-and adventures- in the camera business.
FOLLOW-UP: Is There an Anniversary ARGUS C-3? The Continuing Saga...
Several PHS publications have noted recent newspaper ads offering refurbished ARGUS C-3's for $249.00 plus postage. All wondered if those cameras were the promised "60th Anniversary" model that the reincarnated Argus company promised. These were to be based on refurbished C-3's bought from collectors for $20-25 over the last year or so. The ads did not say. They did state that the number available was 750. The universal response from the "collector press" has been to denounce the price as usurious. But maybe not, if these are the commemorative cameras. Are they? Should collectors rush to buy them?
If you want to know the answers the ultimate source is personable, William J. Pearson, President of ARGUS Industries, Inc. in Des Plains, Illinois. So we called Mr. Pearson.
First, about those C-3's ARGUS bought and had refurbished. The rehab was performed by International Camera Corp., a reliable Chicago service company about which we have written in the past. 30% of the cameras purchased proved not worth rebuilding. Those that were, were rebuilt to like-new condition. They are packaged in an attractive custom Gift Box with a unique stand for display and a carrying bag. No flash is included. Each comes with a certificate stating that it's serial number is registered with the company and the camera has a one-year warranty.
ARGUS itself placed the ads in USA Today, The Washington Post, Indianapolis Star, Newsday, and in the Jacksonville, Florida newspaper. The price was (and still is) $249.00 plus $9.50 shipping and handing.
While the response was encouraging the revenue, so far, has not covered the company's costs. However, Mr. Peterson says, "We haven't lost too much."
Is this the 60th anniversary camera? While not designated as such, the presently available cameras may probably be considered as such. Right away, we're sure collectors would like to see the company put something on each camera that says that it is. This would certainly increase its collectible value and probably sales to collectors-even speculators.
Now, the rest of the story. At the start of the project, ARGUS had a "large catalog company" which was interested in being the anniversary camera distributor. Unfortunately, the deal fell through while the used cameras were being purchased and refurbished. Since the project was already started, Argus management decided to go it alone using the present approach.
While we have yet to find a TPHS member willing to buy a plain Jane, used or rebuilt ARGUS C-3 for $260, apparently a substantial number of people have. Like us, few of them had actually seen the rebuilt cameras. We conducted a small survey of collectors and dealers a few months ago asking what they thought a limited number of genuine 60th anniversary models with some unique features might list for. List price being the operative word. The general opinion then was in the area of $200-$250.
No one expressed any desire to buy a C-3 to use, although, a unique/rare model that you could use, should the notion strike you, was always a plus.
What could ARGUS do now to hype sales of their inventory? We did another survey. Not unexpectedly the answer was again-make the camera somehow unique! With that, the ratio of people sincerely interested in a unique 60th anniversary C-3 jumped to about 1 in 10.
Suppose ARGUS added something to the cameras and was able to sell 500 at $250, that's $125,000. Deduct the camera cost at an average of $25 each ($12,500 total) for the body, another (we're guessing) $50 each ($25,000) to refurbish and you have a neat $87,500 profit. Combine that with the value of the publicity ARGUS has already received among collectors and the general photographic public and the effort would be well worth it. We'll keep you posted.
Chromogenic Films (Cont.)
We noted last issue that Konica's Black & White film, single-use camera is a big hit with trendy Japanese teenagers and that the film could be processed in color developers. We are told by those who sell such Chromogenic films, that there is a small but growing trend in this country for B&W pix among young shutterbugs. They regard it as (insert whatever expression for "great!" is current, here). A long article in the February Ô98 issue of Popular Photography gives the history and current status of Chromigenic B&W films. British Ilford was the first to push them in 1980 with its XPI, processed in C-41 chemicals. While given much fanfare, printing the negatives on color paper produced prints unacceptable to most people. Ilford later tried again as did Konica. Now Kodak has a new T-Max T400CN,ISO 400-speed film. It is said to have grain about like 100 speed films over the entire negative, regardless of over or underexposed areas. Latitude is so good that exposures of the ISO 400 rated film, using an ISO of 50 to 800 still produces good prints. You can then print on either B&W or color paper. Gordon Brown may be right!
New Movie Machine Journal is a Winner...
The Intermittent is the name of a new publication from The Movie Machine Society. The four page journal is in addition to Sixteen Frames . Paul C. Pottash is editor. The 11x17 format allows very large illustrations, also making it unique in photo/historical journals. The writing is lively, informative and with a good sense of humor. Paul described the Annual meeting in Rochester as "a cross between a good day at a flea market, a series of classy speakers at a technical trade convention and a night at Ralph Kramden's Raccoon Lodge". Why didn't we think of that! If you are even the least bit interested in movie equipment send your $20 to The Movie Machine Society, % Paul C Pottash, 1414 Dorset Lane, Wynnewood PA 19096. (Tell them we sent you so we can get one of their exclusive full sized cardboard Bell & Howell 2709 professional movie cameras available exclusively from the society.) For more Information call (610) 642-4683
REPORT: Cutting and Pasting the Under $30 Do-It- Yourself View Camera
Our Investigative Reporter, Dick Haviland, has actually seen someone who took"the challenge and is trying to "assemble a late 19th century camera made entirely of heavy paper." as reported in our last issue. Does it really look like a "4"x5" view camera complete with bellows, sliding rail focus and "tin can" lens"? Dick reports that the part he saw assembled suggests that it will (or may). Does it really take pictures? He assumes it will once the hidden 35mm camera is installed inside. What about the 443 pieces? Definitely, yes indeed, and they all have to to be cut from flat sheets of paper. The camera probably will measure 8 1/2" x 6 1/2" x 8 1/2", if and when, assembled. At the point Dick saw the construction, eight hours had elapsed and about 1/3rd of it was complete. If interested you can still Order # 17-L0788- $29.95 Bits and Pieces 1-800-Jigsaws. But call Dick first.
A Thin, Basic Text, Every Photograph Collector Should Own
You have to be a non-reader or TV watcher to miss the recent opening of the the newly completed J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu CA. The world's richest museum is not just for paintings. It also owns a sizable collection of photographs. In 1991, in collaboration with the British Museum, Getty published a paperback book Looking at Photographs, A Guide to Technical Terms. This outstanding 88 page, 6"x9" volume covers virtually all the print processes from photography's beginning up to and including digital. The text is concise, yet easy to understand even with the more complex processes. Its author, Gordon Baldwin, is the Assistant Curator of Photographs at the Getty Museum. 36 color and 354 B&W illustrations ISBN 0-89236-192-1, J. Paul Getty Museum, 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu CA 90265-5799 Or try Barnes and Noble, the RIT Bookstore or other local bookstores to save postage.
Coming Up...or On Now
"Hollywood Celebrity: Edward Steichen's Vanity Fair Portraits" display at George Eastman House, 900 East Avenue through April 12. For info call (716) 271-3361
The New York City Historic Image Faire Sunday, February 22, 1998, 10 am-3 pm at the Holiday Inn, 440 West 57th Street, NYC. Additional details: Phone 973-472-4560
The Houston Camera Show March 21&22, The Radisson Inn, Hobby Airport. For Information call (713) 868-9606. Editor's Advice: If you just must go to Houston, March is one of the more desirable months to do so. During the summer-May-October-forget it!
22nd Annual FPC Camera and Photographica Show, February 14&15, Miami.
Photographica Las Vegas, International Fair and Symposium- January 31-February 1 Plaza Hotel Casino, $50 room rate- For information call 702-877-0990
A TIP..and a question...
PHS New England's monthly "Snap-Shots" newsletter suggests an inexpensive way to extend your table space at trade shows. Home Depot stocks 12x18 inch by 7 inch high stacking wire racks. With two stacks of three racks you can add 9 square feet of display space-60% more than usually available on a six foot table. The racks cost about $5 each.
QUESTION: Has anyone encountered a problem storing items, long term, in plastic boxes?
Answer to This Month's Mystery Question
A January press release from IMP/GEH (or as they seem to now call it: George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film) has agreed to license part of its collection to the media under a joint venture with London based, Diamond Time Image Archive, Inc., a company holding similar agreements with other archives. "The agreement comes at a time when the museum, like many other nonprofit archival institutions is scrambling for new revenue sources as public support dwindles and private funding more difficult to get. Until now the museum had allowed limited use of the archives for research for a small fee. The new plan makes them available to newspapers, magazines, home entertainment, education and advertising concerns." With computer-generated images and cinematography, the demand for older films and images has risen.
IMP/GEH has one of the world's largest photography related collections in the world: They are divided into: Images, Motion Pictures, Reference Books, Cameras and Projectors?. There are a half-million photographs and negatives, 22,000 motion picture films, more than five million stills, 45,000 books and 25,000 cameras and projectors. Have you seen them all?
The Photographic Historical Society Newsletter is published by America's oldest photographic historical group in January, March, May, September and November Materials in this publication are copyrighted. Permission to reprint is granted to other historical groups if credited to TPHS. Some authors may retain copyright. If so noted, permission must be obtained before reprinting,
Editor: Joe A. Bailey
Newsletter Address: 191 Weymouth Drive, Rochester, N.. 14625 (716) 381-5507
Send dues ($20) and new membership applications to:
Frank Calandra, Treasurer
The Photographic Historical Society, 350 Witting Road, Webster, NY 14580-9009
Meet us on the Net: http://www.rit.edu/~andpph/tphs.html
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