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November 18, 2013 / Gregory Williams

The Names on Cameras

Pictured below are three names, and two cameras. The third camera was this Konica Auto S that belonged to Ralph J. Lark.

I did not think of it much at the time. I just gently removed Ralph’s label and tossed it into a small box I keep that collects all the odd little bits of decay from ageing cameras. They are those things that are so old and useless that they might have historic value; scratched color filters, mercury batteries, an undeveloped roll of Kodak 20 ASA…

Recently when I came across a Petri 1.9 in pretty good functional condition it had Dan Grady’s name on it. This time I left the label on and decided I should one day give a little credit to the previous owners, and here we are.

Dan Grady

I don’t know anything about Dan Grady. Judging by the sound of his name and the fact that he had a label maker readily available in 1958, he was either a total hard ass or he had a domineering mother. He must also have resided in some sort of dormitory, barracks, or small town; the type of place where telephone numbers or addresses were not required to return lost cameras.

Ralph J. Lark

Ralph J. Lark obviously came from the same sort of place as Dan Grady. The J must have been very important to him, or to his mother. Of course the problem with Ralph is that I know some Ralphs. There are famous Ralphs, like Ralphy. One’s imagination too easily becomes biased.

L. Miles

And then there is L MiLES(sic).

L used a pocket knife or something, not a label maker, and drew a little face next to his name on the back of this Canon TX that I found in a junk shop in Seattle, WA in the winter of 2003. The place was at the corner of 14th and Union. Anyway it’s long gone, replaced by condos, a bar, and a restaurant that sells a grilled cheese sandwich made with brie. None of which has anything to do with L Miles that I am aware of.

Anyway, I should thank Dan, Ralph, and L.

I used L’s TX for years. Ralph’s Konica is quite possibly my favorite rangefinder of all the cameras pictured on this site. The Petri 1.9 remains an open question, but so far I’m not fond of the controls. Which can’t in all fairness reflect on Mr. Grady personally.



Leave a Comment
  1. Derek / Nov 18 2013 1:46 pm

    the “worst” ones are inscriptions of drivers license numbers on 2 of my defunt SRTs.

  2. Sonya / Nov 18 2013 3:28 pm

    Fun article. An ode to those who came before us. 🙂

  3. angelinahue / Nov 23 2013 11:13 am

    Love this post – it made me smile : ) I would often wonder about the previous owners of the secondhand books I pick up, and it was fun reading about your take on your predecessors of these cameras!


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