Blair Camera Company, Boston, Massachusetts                            1895-1902


                                                                 5x7                                                                                                   4x5


The Special Folding Hawk-Eye makes its appearance as early as 1895, in Blair's Illustrated Catalogue and Price List of Photographic Apparatus and Supplies.  That year, it was offered in 4x5 only, as the "Special 4x5 Fold'g Hawk-Eye" with three lens and shutter combinations. Two of the lens options were available with an "Improved Shutter with pneumatic release" that's reflected in the catalogue engraving.  By 1896, the shutter is referred to in ads as the "Imp. Crown Shutter" and as the "Improved Unicum Shutter" in Blair's Catalogue of Hawk-Eye Cameras & Photographic Supplies, Season of 1898.  The 1898 catalogue engraving showing an Improved Crown Shutter was possibly outdated since the second model of the Unicum (the one most of us associate the name with today) had been introduced in 1897.

Per Dr. Rudolf Kingslake's article on Bausch & Lomb Shutters in The Photographist, Summer, 1981, this first model of the Unicum Shutter appeared only briefly in 1893. Its appearance in catalogue engravings for at least four years would seem to contradict this, but often, engravings were not updated. 

By 1896, the 5x7 Special Folding Hawk-Eye was available.  The hardware to control the swing feature differed between the two formats.  The 5x7 utilized an external knob adjustment, whereas the 4x5 was adjusted via a lever mounted on the inside front.  Otherwise, both cameras were similarly constructed of polished mahogany, with double extension bellows and the capability of using a roll holder.  Both the 4x5 and 5x7 were available with the same lens and shutter options.  By 1898, the only combination offered for the 5x7 was a Double Rapid Rectilinear Lens and Bausch & Lomb's Iris Diaphragm Shutter. Both the 4x5 and 5x7 continued to be offered through 1902 at least, but are gone from Blair's catalogs by 1904.


Today, the Special Folding Hawk-Eye is almost never seen.  At least two 5x7 examples are known to exist, and the one 4x5 example shown here. As self-casing cameras go, they can be considered extremely rare.



                             From Blair's Catalogue of Hawk-Eye Cameras and Photographic Supplies, Season of 1898      



                                                                                               Original Model Unicum of 1893




                                                                             Close-up showing speed settings



                              From Blair's Catalogue of Hawk-Eye Cameras and Photographic Supplies, Season of 1898                                                             





                                                     From Anthony's Photographic Bulletin, Volume VIII, 1896









From Anthony's Photographic Bulletin, December, 1895            Source:  HathiTrust Digital Library