James's Camera Collection: Kodak Premo Junior No.1

Kodak Premo Junior No.1 USA Other Canon Cameras Box cameras
Kodak Premo Junior No.1
Film type: Premo film pack, size #1
Approx. dates of manufacture: 1908 -1916
Approx. original price: unknown
Approx. street value: unknown

Here's an unusual one. Premo was a tradename owned by Rochester Optical. When Kodak bought them in 1899, they inherited the name and decided to use it for a special type of camera.

Premos take a form of sheet film which was packed together into a cartridge. The camera looks like a typical Brownie box camera of the era, except that instead of a winder knob and all the junk inside that holds the spools, all you have is a hinged rear door and a slit on the top. You put the cartridge in, close the back, and little numbered tabs fit through the slit.

So what you do is take your first shot, then pull the #1 tab. The tab is connected to the bottom of the film sheet that's in front of the pack (the sheet closest to the lens); this pulls the film down, below, and up to the rear of the pack. You tear off the tab and toss it. Now you're ready for shot #2.

This camera took five-shot packs. Because it lacks all the stuff needed to deal with roll-film spools, it's a bit lighter than the equivalent Brownie.

As with other Kodak cameras, the Junior means it's a low-end, super-simple version; No. 1 refers to the physical size of the film. This one is about the size of a 120/620 (2-¼ x 3-¼ inch).

Brian Coe, in his book Kodak Camera, the First Hundred Years, said it was popular with photographers, yet Kodak quit making them in 1922.

I don't know what their street value is these days. They're curiousities, mainly, because they're filmless. You can jury-rig a 616 roll-film camera to take modern 120 film, but making up a film pack for a Premo is going to be a lot more bother than its worth.

That said, they're actually somewhat rare. Mine is the only one I've ever seen in-person.

Camera manual: Orphan Cameras.com

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