Blair Camera Company, Boston, Massachusetts                1895


As its name implies, Blair's '95 Hawk-Eye Camera was introduced in 1895 and was only offered for one year.


Available in 4x5 only, the '95 Hawk-Eye had a telescoping front that moved in and out to achieve focus. Moving the front section forward readied the camera for use, exposing the shutter's tension spring settings and the time and instantaneous release controls, the vertical and horizontal view finders and a distance scale. Capable of being used with either Blair's "Feather-Weight Holders" or their Hawk-Eye Roll Holder, the camera was available in two versions.

The first version incorporated a simple single element lens mounted behind a fixed (non-opening) front panel. This version is readily indentified by a curved slot with a sliding tab, located on the front panel beneath the lens opening. Sliding the tab selected the desired aperture, which was located just behind the front panel.  This configuration represented the camera in its simplest and most economical form:


                       Ronald F. Giovannelli Collection

                       Ronald F. Giovannelli Collection



                       Ronald F. Giovannelli Collection



The camera's second version, seen at top in the gallery photo and featured in the photos below, incorporates a hinged front panel. This feature permitted the use of upgraded lenses having their own rotary or iris apertures, which eliminated the need for an aperture built into the camera's front panel as seen on the first version. 

The example shown here incorporates the Hawk-Eye Roll Holder and an unmarked single-element lens equipped with a rotary aperture. This lens is not listed as one of the options in Blair's 1895 catalogue advertisement for the camera. However, its fit and installation appear to be factory and it may have been added later in production as another option.  


Relatively few examples of either version of the '95 Hawk-Eye Camera have ever been seen.  Aside from Blair itself, E. & H.T. Anthony marketed a number of Blair's cameras during the 1890's. However, the '95 Hawk-Eye doesn't appear in the few Anthony Illustrated Catalogues for 1895 seen so far, suggesting that the model was very short-lived. In all probability, it likely proved unpopular and having been manufactured for only one year or less, not many were made.