A picture captures a moment in time and one of the first types of camera that was designed to be manufactured in large numbers at a very low cost was the simple box camera. Kodak introduced the ubiquitous Box Brownie in 1900. Named after goblin-like characters of Scottish origin, it brought photography to the masses. And so well made, many can still be found today lurking in antique and secondhand shops. Photographs capture more than memories and images, they capture time too. And possibly thanks to a link with the origins of its name, the little Box Brownie in my stories captures spirits as well, which, at times, play tricks with some observers of the photographs taken with it! The spirit bestowed on Charlie’s time-machine by supernatural powers gives it a very special soul of its own too.

Here are three images of my Box Brownie. The complete camera, and then by unlatching the side clips the camera can be opened up to change the film roll. And lastly an image of the mechanism behind the lens and the mirrors through which you can see the image in either portrait or landscape that you are about to photograph.

A typical Box Brownie camera.
The three parts to the camera. On the rear case the winder used to move the film to the next frame can be seen under the case clip. On the front (the image on the right) the slots where the levers used to trigger the shutter protrude through the side of the camera case can be seen.
The business end – showing the shutter mechanism. The metal shutter mechanism is mounted on a simple block of wood, with a wire spring to snap the shutter across the light hole, which sits behind the lens fitted to the front cover. When a photograph is taken this allows, for just a brief fraction of a second, light from the image source through to the photographic paper on the roll in the back of the camera. And hey presto – a photograph is produced!