Pictures of the Past

Ever wonder why there are so many pictures of San Francisco before, during and after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire? 

There are two reasons.  First, San Francisco was as popular with tourists and conventions in 1906 as it is today. Second, by 1900 cameras were generally available to a wide variety of people, not just professional photographers.  Advancements in photography had made cameras relatively affordable, easy to use and convenient as these Kodak ads from the time show. 

You could “Put a Kodak in your pocket,” for as little as $5,  as this 1899 advertisement demonstrates.   Furthermore, you didn’t have to be a professional photographer to operate the camera – “You press the button” and then it’s just “like winding a watch.”    

Duke Library link to this ad:

By 1901, Kodak's Brownie cameras were so easy to use and so inexpensive, that they were a great gift for children.  But they were" much more than a toy -- it is a practical and efficient instrument."  And with a price tag of only $2, the camera was within reach of almost every family.

Duke Library link to this ad: 

Kodak’s advances in film technology meant that there are no more bulky glass plates.  Twelve exposures come on an easy to carry, 2 oz. roll that can be loaded in the daylight, so you don’t need a darkroom, as this ad from 1902 explains. 

Duke Library link to this ad: 

Thanks to the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising and Marketing History at Duke University for putting their amazing archive of vintage advertising online.

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