I bought this Kewpie #2 at a camera show for $15.00. That’s more than I usually spend on any camera, let alone a simple box camera, but it was in great shape. I bought it for Mike Levy, who ended up trading me his book SELECTING AND USING CLASSIC CAMERAS for it. But not before I put a roll of film through it. My advice to Mike was to trim that chunk of thread that’s hanging down into the image area. Or maybe we could start a trend? Just as light leaks and distorted edges are the trademark of a classic toy camera photo, thread in the image area could prove to the world that a box was used. That would be, like, totally righteous. Not.
The Kewpie has a little latch on the side that unlocks to gain access to the “cone”.
There are top and side finders. There’s also a tab to pull for “B” setting. Manufactured by Conley Camera Co of Rochester, Minnesota, the Kewpie takes eight exposures on 120 film. I took it to a defunct nuclear power plant. That ring around the top of the cooling tower really was there! The sun was directly behind the tower and it had a ring around it. You know how it does when there’s a lot of humidity in the atmosphere?
McKeown’s PRICE GUIDE TO ANTIQUE & CLASSIC CAMERAS 2005-2006 states, “c1917-22. For 120 film. Loads from side. Rotating disc stops on front of cameras. $12-20.”
Check out my Box Camera Basics page for tips on film loading, etc.
I feel this next part needs an explanation. Sometime in the mid-1990’s I’d finished a family photo session with a certain cool civil war reenacting family. I was sitting, having a beer with the dad, talking about the exceptional array of entries in the Tokeland 4th of July Parade. He said, “You know, a person could just do that. Name themselves king or queen of something. Like, say you’re the Nitrogen Fertilizer Queen, or something, and make a circuit doing these events.” This got me to thinking… and the spark became a flame. The Silver Nitrate Queen was born. (Silver nitrate is a compound used in photographic processes.) I bought a dress. I bought a tiara. I bought gloves and shoes. I made a sash. I sent out press releases with photos. I received a few calls from some newspapers. Mostly, once they figured out I was basically self-proclaimed, the call was ended rather abruptly. The SNQ did make it into one newspaper and I won a 1st place trophy my 2nd year in that local parade. I’d bribed the judges and had a friend on the panel, but that’s beside the point. Through the years, the SNQ has remained steadfast in her promotion of analog photographic processes. She’s no stranger to digital technology, but analog is her first love. Ah oh… you know it’s bad when you start referring to yourself in the 3rd person.
I don’t remember when the idea came to me to transform a beater Conley Kewpie #2 into the SNQP. I simply stripped it and began applying shimmering glass beads, rhinestones and vintage jewelry. This SNQP became my very first “Gala Edition” camera. It began an obsession with beater-camera transformation that continues to this day – time permitting.
I took it all sorts of places!