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…TIENNE CARJAT (France, Fareins 1828-1906)

Dimitrios Cavras Étienne Carjat was born on 1 April 1828 at Fareins, France and died in 1906 in Paris. Carjat has not been recorded by history as a camera manufacturer, but rather as an artist: a talented caricaturist and portrait photographer. His name often appears along with those of Disderi and Nadar when one reads of the most well-known and influential Paris photographers of the mid-1800s. Carjat, like Disderi, photographed many of the celebrities of the time (i.e., politicians, painters, sculptors, writers, poets, musicians, actors) in his studio. § Apparently, he also manufactured cameras on a limited basis. The simple mahogany box camera known as 'Le Phoebus' took glass plates 65 x 105 mm - just about the size of a standard carte-de-visite. The camera has rack-and-pinion focusing and a brass-bound lens. It dates to the earliest days of the dry-plate era, perhaps to the late-1870s. The low sensitivity of early gelatine dry plates meant that no formal shutter was necessary - the leather lenscap would be removed and replaced for exposures.

McKeown's camera guide does not make mention of the camera, but it is mentioned and illustrated in the respected work 'Guide Michel Auer'. It is unlikely that many of these cameras were manufactured, so this is a special item from a maker far more famous for his photographs than his cameras.

[Megakles Rogakos 12/2009]

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