Detective Camera, 1880-1890

Summary

In 1885, Robert D. Gray created one of the earliest commercial spy cameras. It was designed for concealment: worn under a shirt, with the small lens protruding from a button hole. The spring shutter on the flat disc could be triggered with little suspicion. After each image was taken, the glass plate inside the disc rotated, producing small round photographs.

In 1885, Robert D. Gray created one of the earliest commercial spy cameras. It was designed for concealment: worn under a shirt, with the small lens protruding from a button hole. The spring shutter on the flat disc could be triggered with little suspicion. After each image was taken, the glass plate inside the disc rotated, producing small round photographs.

Artifact

Camera (Photographic equipment)

Date Made

1880-1890

Location

Not on exhibit to the public.

Object ID

65.108.1

Credit

From the Collections of The Henry Ford.

Material

Metal
Glass (Material)
Dry Plate
Nickel

Dimensions

Height: 3.25 in

Diameter: 7.0 in

Inscriptions

stamped on back: R. D. GRAY / PAT'D JULY 27, 86 NEW YORK 1272 / WESTERN ELECTRIC COMPANY

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