The Clowns, SF Examiner, Jun 1954


Courtesy of Jessica Fong, Executive Director at Stockton Art League Goodwin Gallery, the attached San Francisco Examiner Photography Page pdf of Sunday, Jun 13, 1954.

A page chock full of art and photography news. And in all of it, there’s an image of Joel Dardis, who won the $5 weekly photo contest with a fun subject for Joel; “The Clowns”

We’ve seen by now multiple image of clowns that Joel took each and every time circus was in town.

A print with this image was in the estate sale, so Joel must have been proud of it. Joel had won prior awards for his photography during his lifetime, but this is the first award we know of, that was published in a large city newspaper.

The Clowns, as published in the San Francisco Examiner, Jun 13, 1954.

Of course publishing this image invariably brings up the question, when did Joel photograph this ? This was published mid 1954 after all …

We’ve not come across this negative or the companion contact print that Joel tends to make of the better negatives he likes.

So, the hiatus question remains. Did he or did he not ?

For those that will read the full photography page of the Jun 13, 1954 San Francisco Examiner, there’s a good promotional blurb on one of the second Polaroid Land Film Cameras, the “Highlander”.

For those interested in some Polaroid history trivia, the first Polaroid Land Film camera was the Model 95. This model, and its associated film, went on sale ($89,95) in 1948 at a department store in Boston. All 57 cameras, out of 60 manufactured at the time, sold out in minutes. This Model 95 would be in catalog till 1953.

This camera was using Model 40 roll film and produced sepia toned prints, so not the convenient Polaroid pack film we so fondly remember. Type 40 film was a 4.25″ x 3.35″ format, yes, the ubiquitous Press Format.

Polaroid Land Camera, Model 95, 1948, Image by Eugene Ilchenko

It is only in 1950 that a true B&W Polaroid Land Film hits the market after improving the development process. It then took 60 seconds for the image to develop, hence the “picture-in-a-minute” slogan.

Film magazine area of the Model 95, using Type 40 roll film. Mounting instructions on the left plate

In 1954, the Highlander, or Model 80, an affordable priced, light and compact Polaroid Land Camera, is launched. (The same year, the Model 95A comes out under the name “Speedliner”. )

Pictured below is the Model 80A, from 1957, a slightly improved version of the original Model 80.

Polaroid Land Camera, the Highlander, AKA Model 80A for Type 30 Land Film. (1957 model)

Model 80 used Type 30 film, a 2.5″ x 3.25″ format. roughly half the size of Press Format. Smaller, less expensive, but still giving the “instant” promise of a picture-in-a-minute !

Cheers !


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