BOSTON BULLS-EYE CAMERA

Boston Camera Manufacturing Company, Boston, Massachusetts          1892-1895

 

      

Capable of 12 exposures on  3-1/2 x 3-1/2 roll film, and the first to carry the Bulls-Eye name, the Bulls-Eye Camera was introduced by the Boston Camera Manufacturing Company in 1892.  It's unique D-shaped red celluloid window indicated the roll film's exposure number. The window is of significance to collectors for two reasons. 

First, this window feature was part of a daylight-loading film system, designed by Samuel N. Turner, Boston Camera Manufacturing's founder, under Patent No. 539,713 granted May 21,1895.  George Eastman saw the potential in this daylight-loading system, and after failing in his attempts to purchase the patent, he simply acquired the entire Boston company in August, 1895.  Eastman would continue  production of the Bulls-Eye Camera, having renamed it the No. 2 Bulls-Eye and equipping it with a round film window.  Of course, the rest is history with virtually every Kodak roll film camera thereafter incorporating this feature. 

 

                                                                         Source: Google Patents

 

Secondly, the D-shaped window which is clearly shown on the patent drawing, has always been a mystery to most collectors.  Reviewing the patent's wording, the reason becomes evident.  The exposure numbers on the film's backing were underlined, and as one wound the film they would position that line as close as possible to the flat side of the D.  This is supported by the illustration below, in Boston Camera Manufacturing's Instruction Book for the Bulls-Eye copyrighted May, 1892.  It depicts the user rotating the camera 90 degrees, and grasping the winding knob to advance the film in preparation for the next exposure. The illustration further shows the number and underlining, as it would appear through the window. Another benefit of this arrangement not outlined in the patent, is that the flat side of the D served to confirm the exposure number.  With the number underlined, there would be no mistaking a "6" for a "9".  This was important to know when you only had 12 exposures.  All this becomes more logical, supported by the D's flat side position in relation to the direction of the film travel while being wound.  It further makes sense that the photographer would naturally rotate the camera 90 degrees off vertical to make winding easier (assuming one is right-handed), at the same time being able to easily and correctly read the number in this position.

 

 

                                                             

 

The Bulls-Eye's Shutter was designed by Abner G. Tisdell (of Tisdell & Whittelsey Detective Camera fame) under Patent No. 464,260 dated December 1, 1891. Tisdell was granted at least four photographic patents during the late 1880's and mid-1890's.

Boston's Bulls-Eye was offered in at least three known versions:  leather-covered, natural wood finish and an ebonite (thermoplastic) material.  None of them are common today, but the leather-covered is the version most often encountered. Both the wood and ebonite versions are much rarer, and not many of either have survived.  I would give the ebonite version an edge in rarity, probably being the hardest to come by, especially one in very good condition.  Despite the material's hardness, the ebonite is considerably more fragile than wood, easily cracked or damaged if dropped and prone to warping from climate differential.

 

Leather Version

                                                        Leather version with factory box

 

 

Natural Wood Version     

 

 

Ebonite Version 

 

 

 

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                       Boston Bulls-Eye (left) shown alongside its successor, the Kodak Bulls-Eye No. 2