View Full Version : When Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth! 1959 B&J 8X20 ad

Jim Galli
5-Nov-2003, 09:04
Thought others might enjoy this capture from my 1959 Burke & James catalog. Seems 8X20's were common as.........well, electric street cars.

John Kasaian
5-Nov-2003, 09:16

I like their prices---its too bad nobody at B&J will answer the telephone! They're missing out on a lot of orders! ;-)

Ralph Barker
5-Nov-2003, 09:35
I agree with John. Wouldn't it be great to travel back in time and buy a couple of dozen of them? But then, in 1959 I was making $1.25/hour. So, $200 was still a fair piece of change.

Thanks for posting the ad, Jim.

Bruce Wehman
5-Nov-2003, 09:42
Brings back memories. Back in 1970s time frame I worked the Denver convention scene with one of these.

Shot the whole room full; rushed back to the lab; knocked out some quick proofs and set them up outside the doors in time to catch them coming out.

Never got rich but it was a lot of fun.

5-Nov-2003, 10:22
Where were they getting those Berlin Dagors? They hadn't been manufactured since I believe the 1930's(?).

Reinhold Schable
5-Nov-2003, 11:17
32 bucks for a new 8x20 holder!!!

3 years ago I found a beat up old holder in a dusty camera shop in Montreal, and couldn't get the price below $125. Even then, It took a lot to restore it to working condition. After going into debt for a few current holders, I decied to make my own....

After buying a BUNCH of tooling, and HOURS of work, I now have one absolutely beautiful new 8x20 holder, and parts for 6 more (If I can ever get the time to put them together....).

It's fun, isn't it... setting up a monster camera, climbing under the dark cloth, and listening to those hushed voices of awestruck bystanders. Then this white whiskered old goat emerges from under the cloth, lets them take a peek, and they are transfixed....

We don't just serve ourselves when we use classic cameras, we remind others that there is still beauty and wonder in the timeless art of traditional photography.

Tim Hicks
5-Nov-2003, 11:51
If it's still available for $199.50 I'll take six and a spare one for Sundays please. Is there a discount for cash...?

Mark Sampson
5-Nov-2003, 12:56
Someone should look up the inflation calculator and translate those prices into 2003 dollars. In the meantime I'll try to find a Kodak price catalog from that era, so we'll know what Super-XX cost per sheet then....

Jim Galli
5-Nov-2003, 12:58
Considering it might take 12+ $ to buy one 1959 $ they weren't giving this stuff away. Especially that lens. BTW if someone has some extra 8X20 holders I'll pay more than the new price of $32. The price that scruffy one went for on Feebay last night makes Sandy King's look pretty good.

James Driscoll
5-Nov-2003, 13:34
camera in 2002 dollars = $1193.80

lens in 2002 dollars = $2617.98

holder in 2002 dollars = $191.49



Jim Galli
5-Nov-2003, 14:07
Fair enough. I'll take 5 of those holders at that price thank-you. Sandy are you listening? :>))

Gene M
5-Nov-2003, 15:35
I took a shot of my mother in law's ass with one of those. I couldn't fill the frame.

Tracy Storer
5-Nov-2003, 18:28
As to the "Berlin" Dagors....didn't Burke and James aquire a bunch of the old Goerz stuff at some point and continue putting together stuff from spare parts?

Thanks for posting it Jim, it's a gas to see the advertising style. (and the OMG prices)

PS. I think Sandys' holders are a good value, just got a few more S+S 14"x17"s cheaper and faster than I would have from AWB or elsewhere.

dave bulmer
6-Nov-2003, 11:26
So how come we see hundreds of 10x8 Burke and James (bought one myself) on auction sites but never one of these beauties? Mustn't have sold that many I suppose? I'd love to scrape all that grey paint of that monster!


Michael Mutmansky
6-Nov-2003, 11:41

I was wondering the exact same thing. I didn't realize that there were banquet cameras still being marketed as recently as 1959.

I'll imagine that there weren't too many people buying at that time. 8x10's were probably going out the door as fast as they could make them, but the banquest were probably not selling too fast.

I've never seen a B+J banquet, but as you've said, the 8x10's are as common as they come.


Kerry L. Thalmann
7-Nov-2003, 17:56

Your timing is impeccable. I was just at a local swap meet last Saturday and stopped by a table with a lot of old catalogs and brochures. I got quite a kick browsing through the old Central Camera Company catalogs from the 1920s and 30s - the heyday of the banquet cameras. They listed cameras, holders and outfits including lenses in 12x20, 8x20, 7x17 and 5x12 from multiple manufacturers. The one example that stuck out in my mind was the 12x20 Korona prices fom the 1928 catalog. The camera was $95 and the film holders were $9 each. The smaller formats were even less, of course. I don't remember the 5x12 camera price (somewhere around $60 - $70), but the holders were in the $6.00 range.

The one thing that did stand out was the price of the lenses. I used to own a 30 3/4" - 18 1/4" Bausch & Lomb Sries VII Protar in a factory mounted Compound No. 5 shutter. This was the most expensive and longest Series VII B&L offered in a shutter (they had even longer sets, but they only came in barrel mounts). Even in 1928 this was a $350 lens - or 3.5x the cost of the camera it was designed to be used with. $350 was quite chunk of change in 1928 (about $3500 in 2002 dollars). So, while the cameras and holders would be considered a bargain by today's standards, good quality lenses back then were realtively expensive. I suppose that's why convertible lenses were more popular as they served multiple purposes.

In any case, a fun topic. Thanks for starting it.


anton orlov
5-Mar-2016, 01:09
Update for anyone who cares - found a B&J 8x20 recently - complete with case, three holders, extension rail and the B&L Tessar they advertise in the catalog (on an Ilex 5 shutter). Along with it came paperwork with letters between a local San Diego place that used it and B&J about whether or not this setup would work for their intended purpose. Letters are dates 1964. Camera is in amazing condition because the only place it was every used was one tripod setup (looking down through a hole in the second floor onto a large table on the first floor). Too bad it was literally used at a building on the beach, so all the metal has green corrosion on it - should clean up if I ever become brave enough to take it all apart (luckily a repair manual that details every screw in it came with it, so that will make it a little less intimidating).