Blog: Jimmy Carter's 1940 Camera?

When I’m not shooting in Billings, I’ve spent some time exploring antique shops for oddities and old cameras. I’ve found several old brownie cameras that make great bookends.

A couple of months ago, however, I found one that may have an historical connection to president Jimmy Carter. I thought you might enjoy seeing these images and hearing the story. It came from the collection of Pete Warren, longtime art professor at Montana State, who died in 2007.

The “Hollywood Camera” was made by the Encore Camera Company in the 1940s. It was a disposable, cardboard camera. The user put a 6 cent stamp on the box and inserted $1.25 in a slot and mailed it in for processing.

Because they’re disposable, they don’t turn up very often and when they do, I assume there’s film in them.

If you look at the return address carefully, it says “Jimmy Carter’s 1205 Peach St., Plains, Georgia."

When I processed the film, three were three legible images that you can see here. The gallery on this website has a reimagined version of all 10 images that I've colorized and sequenced to suggest a story line.

I can't verify that it was the President’s but it was in Prof. Warren's collection so must have had some special meaning to him. The President would have been in his teens at the time these cameras were made.

I had met him once on a book tour he was doing after he left office. He sent me a handwritten note after we chatted that is still on the wall over my desk.

Jimmy Carter has inarguably had one of the finest post presidencies in US history.