Photography as we know it today, is vastly different from its beginnings during the mid-1800's. The preparation required to produce an early field image was complicated and exhaustive, requiring apparatus, chemicals, tents and the ability to work under adverse conditions. When you look at wet-plate images on glass, just getting them back to the studio undamaged was a major effort. By 1900, the lower cost of cameras and the popularity of flexible film, changed photography by bringing it to the masses.
Photographica applies to many aspects of early photography: Cameras both still and motion picture, lenses, shutters, chemicals, roll film, plates, and a myriad of other apparatus that supported this process. For many, collecting photographica is driven by the aura surrounding our history, and where would history be without photography. Historical records can be written in great detail, but events such as the Civil War, the Wright Brothers first flight, the crash of the Hindenburg, the history of the Old West, the California Gold Rush to name a few, would not be the same had these moments not been visually captured. For others, technological progress and innovation influence what and how we collect.
The aim of this website is to promote an appreciation of our photographic heritage. But we also hope to entertain, provide some new perspectives and showcase historically important or unique items. Besides items from our own collections, we'll also include some examples that have not been found to our knowledge. Like other websites, ours will help to expose their existence and further the possibility that someone will discover one of these in a closet, attic or barn some day. It's the view of many collectors, that with all the information out there today, most of the really good stuff has been found. However, significant finds continue to be made every year, and we believe more are yet to come.
Whenever possible, patents, advertisements and other information will be included. We'll endeavor to provide the best and most accurate information, noting conjecture when there are no facts to support it. No doubt new information will come to light, and someone is bound to say "one of those does exist, because I've got one in my collection".
Also included will be "Side Stories" on how some of these items were acquired, and we hope you'll find them interesting. The intent is to inspire you to opportunities and great finds that are still waiting out there. Some of these stories will also reflect the mistakes we've made along the way, and you may benefit from these as well.
We hope to heighten interests, and bring new collectors into the world of photographica, which is essential to the hobby going forward. Collecting photographica traces its origins to the early 1970's with some groundbreaking auctions of cameras, images and other equipment. Many local and national photo-historical organizations were formed, along with swap meets, shows and other events sponsored by these organizations. A cadre of associated dealers also sprang up during this period to bolster the hobby. The level of interest that followed grew dramatically and flourished for several decades into the early 1990's. From that point forward, the Internet along with Ebay's impact, resulted in a decrease in show attendance and an increase in online activity that by-in-large underpins the hobby today. The good news though, is that so much more information is available online. Communication through blogs, the many excellent websites dedicated to the hobby and the digitization of printed materials, have helped to make research easier and to promote interest globally.
The sad part has been the decline of face-to-face interaction with other collectors through shows and local meets. Flea markets, antique shops and thrift shops that long provided a collection vehicle are now being displaced by the Internet. Adding to this has been a rapidly aging core interest group. Over the past few years alone, the hobby has witnessed the passing or retirement of many long-time collectors and dealers that were central to the hobby. Great knowledge has been lost, but much new knowledge is being gained and imparted by today's collectors that will keep the movement going.
Interaction within photo history organizations, local and regional shows, sales conducted by major auction houses, and exchanges between collectors all go into creating today's collector market. But it's fair to say that Ebay has had a major impact on photographica over the past 20 years. By providing a world-wide vehicle for collectors, and by default a balance in supply and demand, values have been affected. There are good and bad aspects to this outlet, but no doubt, Ebay has brought an exposure that has helped to build many private and museum collections.