The Kodak Brownie Box camera is one of the most famous cameras ever produced. The model illustrated was manufactured in England between 1953 and 1957.

The initial design was by Frank Brownell for George Eastman, who manufactured photographic film and wanted a cheap, reliable camera for a mass market and simple enough for even a child to use. The Brownie camera was launched by Kodak in 1900. It was a simple cardboard and wooden box with a back that pulled off. It did not even have a viewfinder. From those humble beginnings a range of about a hundred models was developed, finishing in 1980.

Many children have been introduced to photography by using a version of the Box Brownie.

The Six 20 Brownie model D was a relatively sophisticated model, which could take flash photographs and pictures in low light.

The term Six -20 refers to the film spool used. Suitable films were numbered 620. They allowed eight pictures to be taken on a roll of film.

The lens, which admitted light into the camera, was at the front, with two viewfinders; one on the top for vertical pictures and one at the side for horizontal pictures.

When in use, the major controls were on the right-hand side of the camera. These included a control lever to change between instant snapshots and brief time exposures that needed a tripod, a slide to change between close up and more distant shots, the shutter button to take the photo, the winding key to move the film for the next picture and the flash contacts.

More information:

Date 1950s
Material(s) MetalPlasticGlass
Item number MBPO108

Questions to help you remember using this item

  • What was the first camera you used? Did it have a case?
  • Where was the film developed and printed?
  • How did you feel waiting for the prints to be ready?
  • Which of your photographs do you remember most fondly?

User Stories

The first Brownie camera sold for just one dollar.

The film used had a paper backing, which had to be removed before the film was developed and printed. My father developed his own photographs and would give me the paper spool to play with.

Share your thoughts on this item

Join the discussion by sharing your memories of this item with other website visitors.