Images of Other Lost UK Camera Obscuras in Our Collection
Penmaenmawr, Wales

The card mounted albumen print by Francis Bedford shown below is a beauty. We stand on a hill overlooking the seafront and pier at Penmaenmawr, Wales. The camera obscura is on our left.

An 1890s image of a camera obscura at Happy Valley, Llandudno, Wales on the internet shows a close resemblance to this structure but is not exactly the same. We have learned that Llandudno and Penmaenmawr are only about ten miles apart. It seems likely that the two had the same builder.

On the right is an enlargement of the camera obscura. The turret is a square box with a design painted on its sides. The door is open but unfortunately there is a mound of earth hiding the inside.

The Crystal Palace, Sydenham, London, England

We keep our eyes open for any reference to operating camera obscura so were delighted to find the ticket/advertising card shown on the right. One side is for the Patent Weighing Chair and the other for the Camera Obscura in the Crystal Palace. Our research indicates that these attractions were added to the Crystal Palace after it was relocated in Sydenham outside London in 1854. We found references to a camera obscura installed by the famous optical firm of Negretti & Zambra in the 1870s. We also found an 1872 account of an American family's visit to the Crystal Palace with references to both the weighing chair and the camera obscura.

We hope to find more about the exact location and format of the camera obscura but so far have only learned that it was located up stairs in an open corridor of the South Transept and was opposite the crystal fountain. On the right is an image of the interior and below is an image of the Crystal Palace from one of our stereo cards. They are not dated so we are not sure if they are from the original location or Sydenham.


We have added a second trade card for the Crystal Palace camera obscura that is dated 1874. We are especially pleased to find this one since we have never seen it pictured and this shows a small multi-sided structure on a balcony. We have never seen a picture of the camera obscura and this answers several questions for us. We are still looking for a photograph or map of the interior that shows that area.

We were excited to learn that Camera Obscura, by Lloyd Rose, a novel in the ongoing series about the time traveler Doctor Who was about a camera obscura in he Crystal Palace. Although the cover shows a seaside pier with a camera obscura building at the end this is not the kind of camera obscura featured. We were both delighted and disappointed in the passages on the camera obscura since the instrument described was not an actual camera obscura.

This card also carries an add for the Patent Weighing Chair that tells us Mrs. B weighed 149 pounds on June 16, 1874. Since the weight is given only in pounds, and not in stones as our first card is, perhaps Mrs. B was an American.

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What is a camera obscura?

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Frequently Asked Questions about the Camera Obscura (please check this page before sending email questions)

Links and a Bibliography about the camera obscura

Map and illustrated diary of
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US camera obscuras

Map and illustrated diary of
our 1996 trip to
Great Britain camera obscuras

Images of camera obscuras from our collection.

Some Images from our collection
The Camera Obscura at War
Advertising flyer for a Camera Obscura
Trade Cards with Camera Obscuras
Lost UK Seaside Camera Obscuras
Other Lost UK Camera Obscuras < You are here
Lost US Seaside Camera Obscura
Lost US Park Camera Obscuras
Melville Garden Camera Obscura
Other Lost US Camera Obscuras
Lost European Camera Obscuras
No, it's not a camera obscura

Portable and box camera obscuras from our collection.
Wooden Camera Obscuras
Metal Camera Obscuras
Camera Obscuras with the Lens at the Top
Cardboard Camera Obscuras
A French Artist's Camera with supplies
Vermeer's Camera, a 1934 teaching camera
Camera Obscura Publications

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Modified 4/2008