Camera Made of Wood, Brass, and Bone May Be the Oldest Up For Sale

This early experimental “mousetrap” camera constructed out of wood, brass, glass, and bone may be the oldest ever to be sold once it clears auction. Purportedly from around 1840, it is expected to sell for between $65,000 and $91,000.

Described on its Flints Auction listing as unsigned and constructed of solid heavy-gauge mahogany, the camera is of a design that predates modern cameras. The box itself is held together with brass pins, and the front lens panel is also secured by six brass pins with the central aperture holding a brass tube with a single convex lens held in place with a split ring. The rear of the camera is a single door held in place with a steel wire loop and a bone wedge, hence the “mousetrap” design name.

To take a photo, one would place a sensitized piece of paper pinned to that back door.

According to the

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