BLAIR'S "THE 400" CAMERA

Blair Camera Company, Boston, Massachusetts                1893-1896

 

 

Making its appearance as early as 1893, Blair's "The 400" can be found in their Illustrated Catalogue of Blair's Hand Cameras and Films for July,1893. I've yet to determine the origin of its rather distinctive name, which stands out in contrast to Blair's other cameras that were named for people, places or things.

 

Billed as the most compact 4x5 roll film camera at the time, "The 400" Camera's main competition was Eastman's Flat Folding Kodak (1895-1896).  It's believed that the Flat Folding Kodak was brought out to compete with the "Folding Kamaret", the name "The 400" was marketed under in the U.K.

Capable of 50 exposures and weighing four pounds, "The 400" was finished in the finest morocco leather.  Featuring the same lacquered brass hardware found on Blair's Folding Hawk-Eye series, it was equipped with Bausch & Lomb's Iris Diaphragm Shutter.

 

As reflected in the photos, accessing the areas at the rear will take a few steps.  First, a lever accessed from the inside front above the bellows is slid to release the camera's back.  The back has a latch at top and is mounted at the bottom with detachable hinges.  Once the back is removed, the take-up spool chamber's side door is removed by pulling backward on its brass retaining strip.  At the opposite side, the film chamber is removed simply by sliding it out.  It's very substantial in construction, having a solid sheet of brass on the closed side. 

 

 

Blair's "The 400", lasted through at least 1896, and by 1898, it no longer appeared in Blair's catalogues. Despite having a longer run than the Flat Folding Kodak, both were commercial failures as evidenced by the few seen today.  But the essence of their roll film designs would live on in Eastman's Cartridge Kodak Series, as well as other Kodaks and cameras by other makers, many of which would prove to be highly successful.

 

They are both considered to be very rare cameras.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Blair's 1893 Illustrated Catalogue        Image courtesy of Pacific Rim Camera

 

 

 

 

From Blair's 1893 Illustrated Catalogue        Image courtesy of Pacific Rim Camera

 

 

 

 

From Blair's 1893 Illustrated Catalogue        Image courtesy of Pacific Rim Camera

 

 

 

                              

 Blair's 1893 Illustrated Catalogue             Image courtesy of Pacific Rim Camera