PHOTOGRAPHY   © mike connealy
Ansco Folding Buster Brown No.1, Model B
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My inspiration for acquiring the Buster Brown was the photo below of my grandmother, taken as she sat in a canoe on a Wisconsin pond, possibly before the birth of my mother in 1917.

Looking at the proportions of her camera, I think it was probably not the same 120-format as mine, but rather one of the larger, now obsolete formats which yielded post-card size contact prints.

Below are some photos from the Buster Brown.

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The patent date on the inside of this Ansco Buster Brown is Sept. 20, 1910. At around the same time, several companies were making very similar horizontal-style folding cameras with wooden bodies, including Kodak, Blair, and the Boston Camera Company.

The lens on my camera is a nicely ground and mounted, single-element menisicus which is located behind the shutter and aperture. The shutter, with options for "T,B and I", was probably manufactured by Wollensak. The aperture offers Universal System choices of "8,16,32 and 64", which correspond to the f-stops, f11, f16, f22 and f32.

The release for the latch that permits opening the back is on the inside-front of the camera, just above the back of the bellows. Pressing the release allows the back to detach completely. Two long, polished leaf springs provide adequately for film flatness and tension. The wooden film spool is for 120-format film, still available today.

My camera came to me in pretty good shape considering its age. I glued down a few loose edges of the black exterior covering, and I soaked the shutter overnight in lighter fluid to get it operating properly. The "Instant" setting appears to be about 1/25th of a second.

Since the lens is fixed-focus, I shot my first test roll with the camera at the smallest available aperture (f/32). Surprisingly, most everthing seemed very softly focused. I examined the image using a ground glass at the focal plane, and found that the focal length of the lens actually required moving the lens-mount forward about one-eighth of an inch beyond its normal locking point for proper image focus at infinity. For close-ups, another eighth inch also produced good results.

Early Ansco cameras (Butkus)