Brownie Who?

If you’re familiar with the Brownie camera, you might not give its name a second thought. After all, Brownies were produced for decades and many of us grew up around them. That’s just the name, right?

But when they were introduced in 1900, the name was significant. The cameras were advertised as being so simple to operate, even a child could do it. And the name? A popular cartoon at the time.

At the turn of the 20th century stories were read in serial form by many people. Popular magazines of the day ran them, like Palmer Cox’s series in Lady’s Home Journal. His characters also filled his  children’s books.

Brownies are akin to fairies and goblins. They are mischievous, but good natured. They are the Celtic little people, and Cox illustrated their adventures.

Cox’s Brownies were used in merchandise and so Kodak borrowed them for their new advertising campaign. Reportedly, Palmer Cox never received compensation, although if you think about it, his Brownies would be all but forgotten today if not for the Brownie camera. So at least he lives in infamy.

If you’d like to know more about the Brownie camera, here’s a great article from The Franklin Institute.

What do you think about these Brownies? Cute? Not so much?

Read about Grace McCaffery and her Brownie Camera in Grace’s Pictures.

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