A.C.Kemper Kombi

This is the Kemper Kombi Camera and Graphoscope, an interesting combination box camera and viewer from 1892 manufactured by Alfred C. Kemper in Chicago, Illinois. As a camera, one of the interesting features is adjusting aperture by way of interchangeable plates. It could also take either circular or square photos depending on removable inserts. As a graphoscope the back could be opened and light shone through it to project an image.

As found elsewhere on the web, namely submin.com, the Kombi had several “firsts”:

  • The world’s first miniature roll film camera
  • The first camera to use film manufactured by Kodak solely for use in a non-Kodak camera 
  • The first camera to combine the taking and viewing of photographs in the same instrument.
  • The first metal-bodied roll film camera
  • The first interchangeable back for roll-film cameras

It’s diminutive size and build quality did not go unnoticed at the time. Per the 1895 The Hardware Dealer: There is about it a welcome absence of the cloth bellows parts which distinguish the average camera.

MakeAlfred C. Kemper
ModelKombi Camera and Graphoscope
Yearc1892
Format1.5 inch Kodak rollfilm (1 1/8 x 1 1/8 negatives
Shutternon-capping
SpeedSingle (1/60)
Lensmeniscus
 
Focus3ft – ∞
Apertureinterchangeable plates
Light MeterNo
RangefinderNo

The back of this particular camera was jammed shut and I just got around to gently getting it open. At first I was thrilled to see a roll of film inside, only to discover it’s just the backing paper, though that will come in handy should I attempt to run a roll through it.

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