Pricey Polaroids

Friday 21 December 2018

American inventor Edwin Land first got the inspiration for the Polaroid instant camera while on vacation in 1943. His 3-year-old daughter asked why she could not see the photo he had just taken of her.

2018.143.56 Polaroid 2

The Polaroid 1000 Land camera. 2017.143.56

The question lingered in Land’s mind and he set about finding a solution. By 1947, he had developed a one-step dry process for producing photographs just one minute after taking the image. Before this invention, negatives had to be developed in a wet chemical bath in a special dark room.

A year later Land’s new invention was available for sale. The first Model 95 Land camera sold for $89.95 US dollars at a Boston, Massachusetts department store. Adjusted for inflation, that camera would have cost about $1,311 New Zealand dollars in 2017. At such a high price the camera would have been a luxury item in the post-war United States.

Interestingly, the 1970s version pictured, the Polaroid 1000 Land camera, still has its sales receipt. The buyer paid $80 for the camera and $24 for the flash bar accessory on 31 October 1978. Adjusted for inflation, the retail price comes out to about $630 New Zealand dollars in 2017. Polaroid cameras were certainly more affordable by the 1970s but still quite expensive. 


The sales receipt for the Polaroid 1000 Land Camera. Canterbury Museum 2017.143.59

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