Friday, May 13, 2011

every camera I own: the cub scout imperial debonair

cub scout imperial debonair
A gift from V.
The Herbert George Company was a Chicago camera manufacturer named for founders Herbert Weil and George Israel. The mainstay of their bakelite camera fleet was the Imperial, a brand that was launched in the 1940s and lasted through a change in ownership in 1961, which is about when the Cub Scout Imperial Debonair was born. You can see the Imperial Debonair, sans Cub Scout branding, here, and an older Girl Scout version here. The keen machine you see here was a gift from V. in a St. Augustine antique store, where I also got a Kodak Pony 135 I'll write about soon.

The Cub Scout Imperial Debonair has the best name of any camera in my collection, and is one of the sharper toy cameras I have, and has a wider-angle lens than most toy cameras. It uses 620 film, and unlike the Brownie Hawkeye Flash its spool wells do not have the tolerance to allow for snipped-down rolls of 120. So I've had to make do with expired film or the re-spooled rolls that B&H used to sell. This shot, scanned from a print,  was made in 2007 with expired Kodacolor II:

scout sheridan

The statue depicts General William Sheridan, a Union General in the Civil War. He sits in the middle of a traffic circle named for him, along a stretch of Washington's Embassy Row on Massachusetts Avenue. Facing the circle is what was once the residence of the Philippine Embassy, where my father worked when I was a child. On September 21, 1976, a Chiliean foreign minster (under Salvador Allende) was driving around Sheridan Circle with a female assistant and her husband of four months.   A plastic car bomb exploded, killing Orlando Letelier and his assistant Ronni Moffitt. Moffit's husband Michael managed to crawl out of the back of the car, and escape with a head wound.

The film I used to make the picture of the Sheridan memorial expired in 1981. A commemorative plaque to Letelier and Moffitt also lies on Sheridan Circle.

18th Street, Washington, DC, 2007. Kodak 160vc
I made one of my most popular toy camera pictures with the Cub Scout Imperial Debonair. I used its inaccurate viewfinder as a feature, not a bug. This was selcted for DCist Exposed 2009, and is also reproduced in the DCist Exposed magazine, available here.

take a bite out of composition
"Take a bite out of composition." The National Mall, Washington, DC, 2009. Tri-X.

Last week, for my Every Camera I Own project, I opened up a roll of Verichrome Pan 620 that supposedly expired in 1982 - an eBay purchase from who knows when. The box seemed to be sealed but the start-end of the backing paper was scotch-taped to the spool, and didn't have the usual Kodak label. Mid-way through the roll, the frame numbers o nthe backing paper stopped appearing - the lab guy later told me that the backing paper was folded over mid-way through the roll. I had a bum roll, and only three or four images had anything on it at all. Fogged film has been my friend lately. (Addendum: apparently I used film from this same expired batch before, with similar results.

Dupont Circle.

Happy Friday the Thirteenth:

Fletcher's Boathouse, from the same pov as this.


Joe said...

The fogged images are beautiful.

pat said...

Thanks Joe!