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Kodak Brownie Flash
France Version française
Photos by Sylvain Halgand text by Sylvain Halgand. From the collection of Sylvain Halgand. Last update 2016-01-30 par Sylvain Halgand.

Manufactured or assembled in France from 1955 to (After) 1955.
Index of rarity in France: Very usual (among non-specialized garage sales)
Inventory number: 316

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Traduction de Sylvain Halgand.

Traduction de Eric LeDonne

In the late fifties, and for a good chunk of the following decade, Christmas and communions were for a great many teenagers the opportunity to get for gift a camera that is now staple of flea markets, namely the Brownie Flash.

This camera was offered in a regular cardboard box, or in an attractive gift set, bundled with a large lamp flash.

This set would contain:

  • A camera
  • A Model B flash, specifically designed for Brownie Flash cameras
  • Two rolls of film
  • Two batteries for the flash
  • Bulbs for the flash
  • An advertising flyer
  • A humorous booklet
  • The camera user's guide
  • The flash user's guide

The box itself was a small cardboard travel case bearing delightful decorations.
This box was worth 5036 Francs by the end of the fifties. The camera itself was worth 2572 Francs, while the flash would cost 1398 Francs

The Camera is the "made in France" version of the American Brownie Hawkeye Flash (1951-1961), itself deriving from the Brownie Hawkeye (1949-1951). This latest didn't have a flash connector (This version was never released in France). The overall form factor is a large Bakelite, black cube fitted with a plastic handle. The camera only has chest viewfinder, with a round, centered window. This makes that box camera feels like a reflex. The shutter release is located on the left-hand side, while the speed selector is on the right-hand side (Snapshot in normal position, and pose when the selector pulled up). Both are made of gray plastic. A decorative strip links the lens, the window of the viewfinder and the viewfinder itself. A small metallic latch located on the back-end of the handle prevents the backside of the camera from coming loose from the front side. This latch must be opened in order to change the film.
The flash is screwed on the right-hand side of the cube. The body of the flash is made out of black Bakelite, and holds the batteries. The parabola is sometimes made out of metal, but more often out of plastic.

This camera will always be part of a collection of French cameras, even though it is only a variation from an American model. It can be easily found in flea markets, however it is rendered fragile by its material. At purchase time, it is very important to check the quality of the Bakelite. To do this, one should remove the camera from its case, as oftentimes hairline cracks develop at the bottom of the camera, at the junction between the two parts of the cube. Another weak point is the top front side of the metallic strip. Repeated rubbings against this edge have often worn the enameled paint.

Kodak Brownie Flash

Kodak Brownie Flash

Kodak Brownie Flash

Kodak Brownie Flash