Antique Camera Lucida by Berville. France, Early 20th Century

Amazing camera lucida made by Berville in its original case. In good condition and with some old-time lenses. Collectors piece.



Antique Camera Lucida by Berville. France, Early 20th Century

Antique camera lucida by Berville made in France in the early 20th century, in its original storing case and in use condition. This superb old-time device is finely preserved (including the prism) and comes with a lens set, some of which are missing. The camera lucida can still be used with some of the remaining lenses: numbers 4, 5, 6, 8, 8 y 11 are fine (number 8 shows a small dent), while number 10 shows some flaw but it probably can be used. Lens number 12 is the most deteriorated one, but the rest enable a quite complete use of the device. The clamp which attaches the arm to the table bears the engraved inscription CHAMBRE CLAIRE UNIVERSELLE – MODÈLE DEPOSÉ, together with the manufacturer’s address in Parisn. The metal this camera lucida is made of remains in excellent condition, shiny and with no traces of rust or wear. The storing case looks good too; inside it is covered by red satin and outside shows a black leatherette covering. The red lining beast the brand logo printed in gold, with the name P. Berville inside a painter’s palette.

Dimensions: Length: 9.62-24.01 in / 24-61 cm.

Camera Lucida - History

The first camera lucida was created in the 19th century and was intended to draw objects, landscapes and portraits while keeping the exact proportions. Its operation was first described by Johannes Kepler in his work Dioptrica (1611), but there is no evidence of any camera lucida being constructed in those days. The first one ever made was designed by William H. Wollaston in 1807; he was also the one who gave it its name (camera lucida, which in Latin stands for ‘dark room’). During the 19th and part of the 20th, these devices became hugely popular. Curiously, in 1833 the photo pioneer Willim Fox Talbot tried to draw images from life using a camera lucida. As he was not satisfied by the outcome, he decided to search for a method which would ‘print images from life in a long-lasting way’. It was then when photography was born.

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