These early self-casing cameras were pioneering designs that paved the way for
inexpensive folding cameras of the 1890s. The 5x7 Folding Hawk-Eyes were large
cameras with ebony finished wood, brass hardware, and front standard mounted
reflex finders. As with the Kodak and Henry Clay, Folding Hawk-Eyes used glass plates
The No.1 Folding Hawk-Eye may also represent one of the first self-casing cameras to
incorporate a concealed shutter. A wire tensioning device cocks the single speed
shutter while a lever on the shutter face adjusts the aperture (three settings).
Folding Hawk-Eye Cameras, c.1892 The Blair Camera Company, Boston
The Folding Hawk-Eye No.1 has a focusing scale with two sets of
measures. The front scale is used for plates while the rear scale
is for rollfilm. Two scales are required because glass plates are
thicker than rollfilm, thereby having a different focal plane.
The No.1 shown here is missing most of it's outer body leather, but the interior
wood and bellows are nearly perfect. Normally, apparatus in this condition is not
included in the collection, however the 5x7 Folding Hawk-Eye is historically
interesting and very rare. Even in less than ideal condition, this particular
example has the aura of a "working" camera and was acquired with its original
ground glass frame, plateholders and bits of darkroom equipment. As such, the
camera is a worthy candidate for restoration ... or should it be left alone as a
representation of a working camera? Feel free to e-mail with your opinion.
The No.2 Folding Hawk-eye is basically the same camera as the No.1,
having an ebonized wood interior and brass hardware, but with a
traditional front standard and external B&L brass shutter.
This example has a morocco leather covered body with
embossing that is characteristic of many Blair cameras.