The PRIMAFOT junk-shop find

Now what is this? An antique sunlamp? An unidentified flying object? No, it’s an old PRIMAFOT FOTOMATIC JUNIOR photobooth that I found in a junk shop in a Black Forest small town recently. Completely with lots of dust and some dead insects inside. Unfortunately in incomplete and definitely-not-working condition. But still it just looks great.

When I saw this in the shop window I was immediately fascinated by its geometrical Art Deco design and wanted to have it instantly even though I did not really know what it was. After some minutes of discussing with the shop owner, I found out that he had no idea what this thing was made for. Just like me. He only bought it because it looked interesting to him and he thought it was something very rare (He was absolutely right at that point).

Later I found out that there should be two exterior flash-lights on both sides of the top which are missing and so is the spring-driven 24 x 24 mm ROBOT II camera which did its service inside. If you want to see the entire unit in a better and complete condition I refer this link to Kurt Tauber’s outstanding camera collection. Finding more information on the web seems to be nearly impossible, proving my assumption about its rareness. Even its age seems to be undefined. Some sources date it back to the 1930s or 1940s, some say it’s a post-war product of the early 1950s. One established fact is that it was made by RoBoT Berning & Co. KG in Düsseldorf, a company well-known for spring-motor operated cameras as well as cameras designed for special tasks. Confusingly enough the plate on the back displays TECHNIKO GMBH DÜSSELDORF as manufacturer.

Did I hear somebody asking how it worked? Well, I can only guess you would find it mainly in big stores back in the days. The customer would take a seat in front of the PRIMAFOT and correct his positioning in the mirrored frontglas, then use the electric cable release. The camera itself was seated exactly in the middle of the round full metal housing and shot directly through the one-way glass. Two big exterior flashlights provided balanced lighting.

Even though the overall condition is far away from perfection I’m absolutely happy about the purchase. Still I’m not sure about what to do with it.  Maybe I’ll leave it as it is so it will just serve as a decorative piece of art. The other idea is to get it working again by installing a digital point-and-shoot inside and force everybody entering my flat to shoot some self-portraits with it. Should be fun.

Other ideas anybody?