Object Timeline

1956

  • Work on this object began.

1972

  • Work on this object ended.

2017

2019

  • You found it!

Sabre 620 Camera, 1956-72

This is a Camera. It was manufactured by Shaw-Harrison Corporation and distributed by Brumberger Sales Corporation. It is dated 1956-72 and we acquired it in 2017. Its medium is molded plastic, metallic printed paper label, mechanical parts. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Manufactured in America between 1956 and 1972, the Sabre 620 (and a rarer variation, the ‘Valiant 620’) utilized 620 film. Kodak introduced 620 film in 1932 as an alternative to 120 film, which it had released in 1901 for use with the Brownie No. 2 box camera. At the turn of the century, photography remained the domain of trained professionals whose profits came from formal portraits and commemorative images of formal occasions. By the middle of the twentieth century, however, smaller, more portable and easier-to-use cameras and cheaper, more advanced film allowed photography to expand from the domain of professionals and into the hands of consumers and hobbyists. The box camera is the most basic type of photographic device, utilizing a sealed container with a fixed-focus lens. The box camera became the standard in consumer camera design and introduced millions of amateurs to photography, contributing to the rise of the “snapshot.”

Brooklyn-based Brumberger Sales Corporation distributed the Sabre 620 under a 90-day warrantee and marketed the device as “a precision instrument designed to give [users] constantly clear, beautiful snapshots in black and white or color.” Its instruction manual promised “better pictures with your Sabre 620” and specifically recommended use with Kodak and Ansco brand films and Sylvania M-2 Flashbulbs exclusively. The boxy plastic housing was made in a handful of Populuxe hues, including light blue, mint green, ivory, marbleized “mahogany” and creamy coral, seen here. Although frequently produced in unified color schemes, it is common to find Sabres in different and unique color combinations; the manufacturer allegedly utilized whatever component parts were available during assembly, leading to endless color variations. The candy-colored device boasts a gold front panel with red gridding against which the model name dances in stylized, jet-age script. Further visual evidence of the object’s mid-century milieu is the boomerang below the lens and the “parabolic” reflector of the detachable flash holder, both of which reflect the period’s fascination with speed, technology, and the sweeping automobile-inspired motifs.

This object was donated by Estate of Phil Patton. It is credited Gift of Phil Patton.

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 10.2 × 8.3 × 8.9 cm (4 in. × 3 1/4 in. × 3 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Sabre 620 Camera, 1956-72; Manufactured by Shaw-Harrison Corporation (United States); molded plastic, metallic printed paper label, mechanical parts; H x W x D: 10.2 × 8.3 × 8.9 cm (4 in. × 3 1/4 in. × 3 1/2 in.); Gift of Phil Patton; 2017-55-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108954615/ |title=Sabre 620 Camera, 1956-72 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=15 October 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>