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the actual spy cameras

Q I recently acquired this camera from a colleague in New York. The box is 7-by-7-by-3 inches, and the device inside is 6 inches in diameter. The ribbon glued to the cover of the spy cameras reads, "C.P. Stirn's Patent Time and Instantaneous Concealed Vest Camera. Honorable Mention Florence, Italy 1887. Medal of Excellence Am. Inst. N.Y. 1888. Silver medal Melbourne, Aus 1888. Manufactured by C.P. Stirn, New York." Can you tell me what it is and what spy cameras is worth?

A Inventor Robert Gray developed a "concealed vest camera" in 1886 and sold the production rights to C.P. Stirn, of New York. Stirn had the actual cameras made by his brother Rudolf, in Berlin.

The photographer would wear the 6-inch diameter chrome camera under his vest. The lens would poke out a buttonhole, and the shutter could be tripped by pulling a cord. The spy cameras could shoot six images on a circular dry plate; the photographer would advance the plate by patting his chest to activate a lever.

The camera, which retailed at $15, was popular among amateurs and professionals alike. In Germany, it was marketed to spy cameras who wished to capture an image in the wild and return to their studios to paint.

An editorial in the October 1886 issue of the Philadelphia Photographer proclaimed, "It can do more mischief than its weight in dynamite, or more good than its weight in gold, according to the disposition and will of the person who pulls the
string." In all, over the course of only a few years, more than 25,000 of the spy cameras were sold.

Don't be the product, buy the product!