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Deutsches Technikmuseum - October

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The Websites of the donation Stiftung Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin at a glance:

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The donation contains six locations:

Exhibit of the Month October 2011

Photo: Two connected wooden boxes are the body of the camera. The lens is made of brass, around 15 cm long and an aperture of circa 10 cm.

The Daguerreotype camera © C. Kirchner / SDTB

The Oldest German Camera — A Search for Clues

The current exhibit of the month is probably the oldest camera made in Germany. The Deutsche Technikmuseum acquired this sliding box, daguerreotype camera in 1992. The lens is engraved "Geiger Stuttgart Nº. 315."

Fascinating research has brought many details about the history of this apparatus to light. The Berlin Rathgen research laboratory confirmed the authenticity of the object and appraised the production time as early- to mid-19th century. Its history can only be traced back as far as a Danish dealer in 1986, then all traces of it are lost.

The maker Geiger – a pioneer of camera production

From 1832, Carl Christoph Friedrich Geiger (1811 – 1892) — the maker of the camera — ran a machinist and optician’s workshop in Stuttgart. In September 1839, he published his first notice of sale. His advertisement appeared in the German translation of the French first edition of "Daguerreotype", which described the first photographic process. With this publication, its author, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (1787 – 1851), was credited with inventing photography. At the same time, Geiger presented his first daguerreotype and began to offer cameras for sale. In 1844, he displayed his apparatus at the Berlin Industrial Exhibition. Thus, Geiger belongs to the pioneers of camera production in the German-speaking area.

Since no other unit described in the literature from this earlier production period has yet appeared, the Deutsches Technikmuseum is likely to have the oldest existing German camera.