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Help Us Solve An 'NPR' Camera Mystery

  • This Graflex Crown Graphic camera turned up in an antique store in Toronto with "NPR NY" etched into the top. Who originally owned it and what does "NPR NY" mean? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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    This Graflex Crown Graphic camera turned up in an antique store in Toronto with "NPR NY" etched into the top. Who originally owned it and what does "NPR NY" mean? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
    Courtesy of Al Suke
  • "NPR NY" is etched into the top of this pre-1955 Crown Graphic camera.
    Hide caption
    "NPR NY" is etched into the top of this pre-1955 Crown Graphic camera.
    Courtesy of Al Suke
  • This Crown Graphic camera was likely manufactured sometime between 1947 and 1955. Many of these types of cameras were used by the press.
    Hide caption
    This Crown Graphic camera was likely manufactured sometime between 1947 and 1955. Many of these types of cameras were used by the press.
    Courtesy of Al Suke

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A few days ago I got an email that contained a bit of a mystery.

It said:

"We have a small antique store in Toronto and have come across a pre-1950s Kalart Range Finder Crown Graphic camera made by Graflex Inc., with the etched inscription 'NPR, NY' on it. Was this something that belonged to your organization at one point? If you are interested I can email some pics over."

Of course I wanted to see the photos, so Al Suke, owner of a shop called Barn Sale on 9, emailed them to me. My first thought was: "Whoa."

Suke told me he purchased the camera in Connecticut or Massachusetts (he couldn't quite remember which) and that the lettering was etched permanently into the top. He wanted to let us know about it, in case we wanted it back.

But I'm pretty sure NPR didn't have a photo department back when these cameras were manufactured in the 1940s and '50s. Actually, NPR didn't even exist as an organization until 1970.

For a bit of history: The original Graflex cameras were developed in 1898 by The Folmer and Schwing Manufacturing Co. of New York City. They later became a division of the Eastman Kodak Co. in Rochester, N.Y., and came out with the initial Speed Graphic model in 1912. The Pacemaker Crown Graphic model, like the one above, was produced from 1947 until 1973, with the Kalart rangefinder used until 1955. In its heyday, it was the main camera used by press photographers.

So where did this particular camera come from? And what does "NPR NY" mean?

Share your thoughts, and help us solve a mystery, in the comments section below.

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