Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Some Camera Designs of Arthur Crapsey, Henry Dreyfuss and Raymond Loewy

by Rick Soloway and Ralph London
During our exploration into the cameras that famed industrial designer Walter Dorwin Teague designed [5], we were tentatively speculating that he may have designed Kodak cameras such as the Brownie Hawkeye, Bantam RF, Chevron and perhaps the Ponys and Signets. Soon our search for Kodak postwar photographic design patents demonstrated to us that Teague had designed none of these cameras. The search also revealed who did.
Teague was certainly involved with Kodak at the time. A former Kodak designer, Arthur Crapsey, Jr. recalls, “In 1946 or 1947 Teague was retained as consultant to the Industrial Design Group being formed under Ted Clement” that already included Crapsey. Fred Knowles and Ken Van Dyck soon joined. Through at least 1958, “Teague was visiting us on a regular basis two to six times a year.” [2] We suggested that Teague might have helped or inspired other designers to create postwar designs.

So if Teague did none of the designs, who did, with or without Teague’s inspiration? Clement started with a 1947 design patent filing for the Tourist. From 1948 to 1958 Crapsey produced a long list of design patents: Brownie Hawkeye, Pony 828, Pony 135, Signet 35, Brownie Holiday, Brownie Bull’s-Eye, Bantam RF, Kodak Stereo, Signet 40, Brownie Starflex, Brownie Starlet, Brownie Flash 20, Signet 50, Pony II (with Frank Zagara), Signet 80, Brownie Starmatic (with Mary Eaton) and the Automatic 35. Crapsey might also have done the 1953 Chevron. Richard Olson and Zagara created the Brownie Super 27 in 1962, and the same year Olson did a camera similar to the Brownie Fiesta. Zagara is responsible for the Instamatic 100, 500 and 300, and Olson the Instamatic 700, all filed on February 14, 1963. Finally, David Hansen has a design patent for an Instamatic filed in 1963. Hansen wrote us, “Arthur Crapsey and Fred Knowles were the industrial designers for the Star line of cameras.” [4] A table of detailed information on these design patents is available from the authors.

Actually, we found no evidence of specific Teague camera designs for Kodak after 1944. Some people might quickly decide that a few of these postwar designs were done by Teague himself. Several websites incorrectly credit the Brownie Hawkeye to Teague. It is noteworthy that in all of our patent searches (which covered 1926 to 1965), Mary
Eaton is the only woman we discovered on a design patent, and this Starmatic patent is her only patent. At Kodak she replaced Gloria Baldwin.

Teague’s camera designs were not limited to Kodak. Teague also played a major role in the early design of the Polaroid Land Cameras. Design patents cosigned by Teague involve the Polaroid Model 95 in 1948, the Highlander Model 80 from 1954, and the 1960 Electric-Eye 900, the first fully automatic Polaroid.

Teague is sometimes discussed together with three other famous contemporary industrial designers: Henry Dreyfuss, Raymond Loewy and Norman Bel Geddes, the first two of whom also designed cameras. Dreyfuss is credited with the design of the 1963 Polaroid Automatic 100 and the 1973 SX-70, the latter design more specifically credited to James M. Connor of Henry Dreyfuss Associates and Edwin Land himself. The SX-70 “was to be the last product worked on by Henry Dreyfuss (1904-1972) before his untimely death.” Henry Dreyfuss Associates also designed the 1965 Model 20 (the Swinger) and the 1976 Pronto. [3] For Ansco, Dreyfuss did the Automatic Reflex (design patent 157,847), the Pioneer or Chief (121,408), and packaging including the red, white and dark blue design. Loewy also designed for Ansco and is credited with the Anscoflex, Flash Clipper outfit, Rediflex outfit, 2A Home Developing outfit and the luggage style case for the Pioneer (Ansco Jr. Press outfit). [6] The British Purma Special is a 1937 Loewy design. [1] We found no relevant effort by Bel Geddes.


1. Patrick Cook and Catherine Slessor, Bakelite: Illustrated Guide to Collectible Bakelite Objects, Chartwell Books, 1992.

2. Arthur Crapsey, Jr., Transcription dated May 10, 1988 of handwritten notes in response to request to summarize the history of industrial design at Kodak, 2 pages.

3. Carroll Gantz, 100 Years of Design, Industrial Design Society of America website. http://new.idsa.org/webmodules/articles/anmviewer.asp?a=51&z=23

4. David Hansen, email, March 15, 2006.

5. Ralph London and Rick Soloway, “Walter Dorwin Teague: Master American Camera Design,” Symposium on the History of Photography, PhotoHistory XIII, Rochester, N.Y., October 20-22, 2006. Also “Camera Designs of Walter Dorwin Teague,” Photographic Canadiana, The Photographic Historical Society of Canada, 2006, to appear.

6. William and Estelle Marder, Anthony: The Man, the Company, the Cameras, Pine Ridge Publishing, 1982. [Loewy is indexed as “Lowey.”]

Rick Soloway (ricksoloway@hotmail.com), born and raised in Detroit, graduated from Wayne State University with a concentration of study in the History of Science. Since graduation, he has been a commercial photographer specializing in images for the biomedical sciences. His work has been published in numerous medical journals, textbooks and atlases. Rick's collecting interests include streamline/deco era camera designs as well as compact, miniature and subminiature cameras. Now living in Tucson, he is treasurer and a member of the board of directors of the Western Photographic Historical Society.

Member Ralph London (London@imagina.com) collects mainly early wood and brass cameras from the 1840s to the early 1900s plus the catalogs and ads in which they appear. He and wife Bobbi have many of Teague’s cameras. A retired computer scientist living in Portland, Oregon, he contributes frequently to photo history publications. For many years he edited the Cascade Panorama for the Cascade Photographic Historical Society. He also maintains an extensive topical collection of postage stamps on cameras and photography.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The search also revealed who did...

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