1899: Le Pascal
Le Pascal was made in France by Japy Frères & Compagnie. It was a simple box camera with a flip-up viewfinder and a choice of a slow or fast shutter speed. It took twelve pictures 1½x2 inches on its own specially-made film. Unlike more conventional films, this did not have backing paper. Instead, the raw film was wound onto a spool with a paper leader at the front and a paper trailer at the end. Because the paper leader was light-proof and wrapped around the film, it could be loaded in daylight.
With the camera back removed, the film was inserted into the camera in the usual way, then the paper leader was pulled across and attached to a large take-up drum. The back was replaced and a small knob on the base was turned to wind the film all the way through the camera and onto the take-up drum. At the same time this tensioned a clockwork spring and, thereafter, as the shutter release was pressed and each exposure was made, the clockwork automatically wound the film back onto the original spool one picture at a time.
This camera seems to be in good working order, but without a suitable film to advance and thereby tension the clockwork motor it’s difficult to say if it actually works. If anyone out there knows where a film might be obtained, please contact me here.
Top: Le Pascal camera
Avove: Top view of the body
Left: Inside Le Pascal