James's Camera Collection: Q.R.S - DeVry Kamra

Q.R.S - DeVry Kamra USA 35mm cameras Camerapedia The Tomei Collection
QRS DeVry Kamra

Camera type: Non-Rangefinder
Approx. date of manufacture: 1928
Approx. original price: $22.50
Approx. street value: unknown

The strangest camera I own. I've also seen this on short-lists of "strangest" cameras elsewhere, so it's not just me. I got this many years ago (so many I can't remember) with a box of stuff I'd bought at a swap meet somewhere. I still have the original box that this came in, so mine's in nice condition (the box is wearing well, too).

Beautiful camera. click for larger ad Its catalin, marbled burgandy. Looks like something from the 40s, but it's really from 1928. That makes it a very, very few catalin cameras made (of which I'm aware), and one of the earliest still cameras to use 35mm film (though the Leica still beat it by a few years). In the US, 35mm wouldn't take off until Argus started selling cameras in the early 30s.

In case anyone cares, catalin and bakelite are often confused. They're both pre-WW2 materials that are early plastics. They're similar but they are different in many respects. One of the chief differences is that bakelite is black while catalin is often colored; so if you see something that looks marbled, it's catalin, not bakelite.

The modern 35mm metal casette didn't evolve for another decade; this one takes a goofy magazine. I still haven't figured out how to eject it (it's stuck hard in there, and I don't want to break it by trying to extract it). I also can't figure out how to advance or trip the shutter. The camera looks very simple, but try to use it.

Not much is known about Q R S DeVry. The Q R S company made player pianos and piano rolls (still does). They lent factory facilities to the early Zenith radio corporation. They also made movie cameras for a brief period in 1929, but this appears to be their only still camera.

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