Camera of the month at Photo Antiquities: Polaroid Model 95


The Museum of Photo Antiquities on East Ohio Street has started featuring a new camera each month.  This month’s is the Polaroid Model 95.

From the Museum of Photo Antiquities:

Polaroid Model 95. Photo courtesy Photo Antiquities
Polaroid Model 95. Photo courtesy Photo Antiquities

The world’s first Instant Photograph Camera was Polaroid Model 95 produced in 1948 and invented by Dr. William Land of Massachusetts. When you pressed the button, it snapped a black and white photograph and the user grasped the tail of the paper and pulled it out of the stacked pre-loaded “film cartridge” between tight bars which energized the developing fluid. In one minute at room temperature, the photograph appeared. Color “film” followed shortly. It took the world by storm, and Polaroid Corporation produced millions of the model 95 for the entire world.

It was the first instant camera since the Daguerreotypes in 1839 — but those “instant” photos took two hours to develop. When the digital “instant photos” appeared, Polaroid was ended and one of each of the score of designs was sent to Photo Antiquities Museum and are on display.

Model 95 – the first — may have been the best. It had a leather case; it folded shut, was light weight, and focused by moving the lens back and forth by means of a bellows; had various apertures measured in EV from 6 to 15 engaged by click stops. Polaroid photographs made in 1960 remain perfect and unfaded in 2011 at the museum.

At the same time as the Camera of the Month, Photo Antiquities will display The American Tintype – pictures printed on iron sheets – unbreakable compared to glass plates. Tintypes of all sizes, from thumbnail to 11×14. Also featuring hand tinted tintypes and copy tintypes.

Photo Antiquities Museum has more than 1,000 different cameras to see and touch and about 50,000 photographs including all the Civil War Generals, and in Pittsburgh is the only museum that has photographs set in jewelry, lantern slides, Starlite viewers, Orotones (glass images backed with gold), Matthew Brady Plates, images printed on Porcelain, and the original color photographs, “Autochrome” invented in France.

The Museum of Photographic History at 531 East Ohio Street (North Side) is open to the public. An $8.00 contribution to the not-for-profit 501c organization is asked, and memberships are offered. It is closed Sunday and Tuesdays. Phone (412) 321-7881 to secure a guided tour that takes about two hours to see it all. Schools and groups are invited.

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