This is Weno №5 Hawk-Eye ("Zorki" is serving as a scale). The camera had been in production from 1905 until 1915.
The company behind this camera is Blair Camera Company of Boston; it had been acquired by Kodak in 1907. Kodak moved it to Rochester, NY but kept the "Hawk-Eye" trade mark and even the name of the Blair Camera Company existed for some time as one of the Kodak's companies. This box had been manufactured in Rochester after the acquisition sometime between 1907 and 1915. It has a serial number inside so with some diligence the camera can be dated more precisely.
The Weno № 5's box made of good woods without use of the cardboard or metal like the older Brownies. The craftsmanship is superb. Everything made very tight and it still works as a charm. Of course it is very simple camera but one can see the difference between Weno and younger Brownies. This one was build to last. The outer condition is rough. It looks like the dry hot wind had been blowing for decades in the fold of time where it had been hiding. Instead of leatherette it has just some traces of it and a lot of red dust. I think if I ever consider restoring it I'll just sand it down to wood, stain it, brush some varnish and polish it...should be nice looking camera after.
It is clean inside. The roll of exposed 118 Verichrome was sleeping there on the bed of polished wood. 118 format was in production 1900-1961. From Wikipedia:
118 roll film 1900 1961 3¼"×4¼" 3.474" spoolIt meant to hold 6 pictures 3¼"×4¼" (8.3×10.8cm)
Since it is Verichrome the timeframe is narrower: from 1931 to 1956.
The stripes I cut to do the development tests were rough, too; the gelatin had deteriorated under the bacterial attacks over the years and emulsion was not at its best. Here is the development test strip from 2 to 7 min in one minute steps:
As one can see there is no difference in density between 6 and 7 min and the difference between 4 and 5 min is much less compared to 2 and 3 minutes. Here is the graph of average densities/development times (I took 7 min as 100%):
The development time has to be somewhere around 4 min, where the curve's saturation starts. Pick longer time and fog will eat the image; shorter time and image will be too weak. I chose 4min 15sec and developed the roll in 10% HC-110 at 44F/6C.
The reels and photo tanks for 118 format are long gone; the only simple way is fast 10-min DIY with universal 135/127/120 Patterson-type reels and some duct tape.
For such an old and deteriorated film the result is good; even the edge print is clearly visible. There were only 3 frames at the beginning of the roll, but for the 118 format 3 frames means half of the film (click to zoom):
The first frame is badly fogged. That is because the film's edges got bent close to the spool, opening the way for the oxygen and microorganisms. A fragment:
The couple is in casual clothes; woman's dress resembles 40s fashion -- military-style jacket and narrowing down skirt. The last 2 frames are better quality. It looks like it's the same couple and the same time frame; both in party-style dress now. The lawn chair looks mordern but this type of furniture had been in use since late 20s.
The choice of the camera tells us a story by itself. This kind of camera in 40s...already very old at the time, not very convenient, bulky, and the film is a rarity...who can fit into the photographer's role? I think the one who either camera freak like myself (neither she nor he looks right) or the one who got this camera in early 1900s, his or her first and only photo love ("...'til death do us part...")
I like this camera and the story it tells: it links us directly to the very beginning of the vernacular photography, to the moment in time when after being professional craft or expensive hobby for decades it had finally became available to everyone.