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The "Ideal" Flash Gun

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The "Ideal" Flash Gun was a real flashgun, made ca. 1890 by or for Burke & James in Chicago. It was gun-shaped, but the trigger was upon and not under it, and a shovel replaced the muzzle. Of course such a flash gun was in no way connected to a camera. The camera's shutter had to be opened first, then the trigger had to be pulled and released so that it stroke sparks out of a piece of amorce, sparks that ignited the load of explosive magnesium powder on the shovel. The bright light given by one magnesium flame gave rich light for the moment of exposure but left a lot of smoke afterwards, and maybe a shock to those who were not accustomed to being photographed like that.

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