« Making the Scene | Main | Magnum Festival »

Oldest/Most Expensive Camera

VIENNA (AFP) - An 1839 daguerreotype camera, ancestor of modern photography, was sold at auction in Vienna Saturday for nearly 600,000 euros making it the world's oldest and most expensive commercial photographic apparatus.

An anonymous buyer paid 588,613 euros (792,000 dollars), bidding by Internet, said the Galerie Westlicht auction house here.

The opening price was 100,000 euros for the wooden box structure, which is in its original state and had been lying forgotten in a loft in Munich since the year 1940 until the present owner of the premises accidentally came across it.

Bids came from as far afield as South Korea, Japan, the United States and France, the auction house said.

Michel Auer, a Swiss photographer and photographic historian, carried out an expertise on the device and concluded that it was the only remaining known example made by a French firm, the Susse Brothers.

Before it resurfaced, the oldest known and most expensive daguerreotype apparatus in the world had been one also dating from 1839 but made by Alphonse Giroux, brother-in-law of the inventor Daguerre.

Only 12 remaining original Giroux daguerreotype cameras are known to be preserved in various collections around the world.

The daguerreotype, named after the French artist and chemist Louis Daguerre, is an early type of photograph in which the image is exposed directly onto a mirror-polished surface of silver bearing a coating of silver halide particles deposited by iodine vapour.

It was not the first-ever photographic process. But previous attempts had required such lengthy exposure that the daguerreotype became the first commercially viable photographic process.