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  • Swiss Michel pigeon camera rules the roost at $32,000
  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • cameraMichelpigeonSwiss

Swiss Michel pigeon camera rules the roost at $32,000

A rare and unusual Swiss-made Michel pigeon camera is set to sell with strong results as part of Auction Team Breker's latest auction.

The March 23 sale in Germany will focus on the earliest days of photography and cinema.

Michel pigeon camera
As one of just a few known examples, collectors will be homing in on this camera come sale day



The camera has been given a $19,500-32,000 estimate, as one of the highest valued lots in the sale. It was designed and made by Christian Adrian Michel in Switzerland to be attached to the back of a homing pigeon.

The concept of pigeon photography was first developed in 1907 by Julius Neubronner. The military potential of the concept was immediately realised as the first world war got under way, but was later forgotten due to rapid developments in aviation during the war.

The example at auction was made by Michel in 1936. It is one of just a handful made to demonstrate to prospective clients, though his main business was in the Swiss watch industry.

Michel had been assigned to the Swiss army's carrier pigeon service in 1931, and began work on adapting Neubronner's original design in 1933, converting the panoramic camera to 16mm film. His version is probably the most accomplished, weighing just 70 grams and one of the first operated by clockwork.

Also starring is a wet-plate Photo Magie camera outfit by Alphonse Giroux ($6,500-$13,000), the brother-in-law of Louis Daguerre, who is renowned for his invention of the daguerreotype. It was Giroux who was responsible for constructing the famous cameras that his relative had designed, thereby playing a pivotal role in the development of photography.

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  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • cameraMichelpigeonSwiss