Monday, November 17, 2008

Not For Spying After All - Cabinet of Curiosities, Edition 11

Minetta Camera, "Made in Japan", beside a Canadian penny.
Private collection.

Here is yet another curiosity from my cupboards. I had always thought this was 'old' and meant to be something like a 'spy' camera, but I understand now it is likely from the 1960's and mainly manufactured as a fun item. (The 60's aren't olden times, as far as I am concerned. I remember them well!)

This tiny novelty camera, and others like it, used 17.5 mm film. During the 1930's, 35 mm was sometimes split for movie and news film for economy's sake, and later, still cameras were manufactured for the same split film. The negatives were 14x14mm. The website has more information on many of these 'subminature cameras'. This camera likely came with a case, but I have only the camera. So far I don't see any negatives that might have been from photographs taken with this. I suspect it was never used, but kept because it was 'cute'.

The information I found most interesting is that these tiny cameras were sometimes prizes in vending machines. There's a photo of a set of prizes with a camera in the Introduction section.

Aha! I bet this was won at the Pacific National Exhibition (the PNE) and Playland in Vancouver. My brother and I went every year, with our parents, till we were teenagers when we were finally allowed to go with a group of friends.

I don't recall its provenance particularly, but to tell you the truth, my photography has always been poor. My kids say 'mum cuts heads off'. I remember my very first camera, and my pink 110; that's it. The 'children' probably think it's fitting that nowadays I mainly stick to photographing gravestones and plaques. I do love photographs, and researching them, but I don't pretend to be any kind of photographer.

In case you're interested, there's a link below with a bit about the PNE's history. Playland was originally separate, so perhaps that's why it isn't mentioned, although to us they were pretty well seen as the same. Playland has a longer season, that's all.

Playland's 1958 Wooden Roller Coaster, designed by Carl Phare and Walker LeRoy, still has over half a million thrillseeking riders each year. And there are still lots of games to play...wonder if there are any cameras as prizes?

PNE history, The History Group:

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