Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic SP

Donated by Mike Donat

Pentax Spotmatic SP cameraThis Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic SP camera saw quite a bit of Northwest Arkansas history. It once belonged to longtime photojournalist Charles Bickford who worked for the Springdale News for almost 40 years. During that time he was one of the best-known photographers in Arkansas. Bickford’s subjects varied from Arkansas football, basketball, and baseball games to politicians speaking from the end of a pickup truck to everyday life events. Many of his photographs and negatives live on in Shiloh Museum’s photo archives as part of the Springdale News Collection.

Later in his career, Charles Bickford sold this Pentax camera to Mike Donat, also a photographer who, amongst a varied career, worked for the Northwest Arkansas Times, shot game and practice footage for the University of Arkansas Athletic Department, worked in Collier Drugstore’s photo department, and in 2006–2007, was the Shiloh Museum’s photographer and darkroom technician. Donat donated this camera, an iconic piece of local photojournalism history, to the Shiloh Museum in 2005.


Bo Williams, the Shiloh Museum’s current photographer/digitization project manager, shares his insight on this Pentax camera:

CAMERA INFO
– Pentax Spotmatic SP in black paint

– Originally released in 1964 but produced until 1976. However, this was likely manufactured pre-1970 due to the lens provided with it (Pentax was not very diligent with correlating their cameras’ serial numbers to specific production dates).
– Manufactured by Asahi Optical Co. in Japan but distributed by Honeywell in the United States

Pentax cameras were, and continue to be, the underdogs of the photographic world. Despite world-renowned quality and innovation, they just never seemed to find the fame that they deserved. Even the Spotmatic SP as seen above was one of the first SLR cameras to include a through-the-lens light meter, a feature that would be considered a given by today’s standards but would have been unheard of sixty years ago. As far as quality is concerned, their lenses are still considered some of the best ever produced, even when compared to contemporary offerings, while many of the camera bodies themselves are still very functional despite being 50+ years old. In fact, I use a Pentax film camera of a similar vintage myself for my own personal work and it has never let me down. Despite all of this, I would imagine that very few readers today will even recognize the Pentax name as they have always lived in the shadow of the likes of the more prevalent Canon and Nikon. This is why, when I was asked to select an artifact from our collection to be highlighted for the Artifact of the Month, I knew immediately what had to be done.

Now for a bit of camera history. Back in the day, photojournalists, press photographers, and war photographers often found themselves in precarious situations while being paid very little to do so. At the same time, budding camera manufacturers such as Pentax usually produced their cameras in two finishes; the cheaper, less durable and inherently more subtle black paint and the now infamous hallmark of any “vintage” camera, silver chrome. The aforementioned working photographers, needing to keep a low profile and some cash in their pockets to buy more film, tended to opt for the cheaper and stealthier black-paint cameras. This was all well and good for a while but then something interesting happened. These photographers found themselves at the precipice of history, quite fortuitously, with a camera in their hand. Their work went on to capture and define world history. The more notoriety the photographers gained, the more attention their cameras received. They became the rock stars of the photographic world and their cameras the equivalent of Fenders and Gibsons. These cameras that were once produced as a cost-saving measure have survived through history to become some of the most sought after and collectible pieces of photographic equipment today. A black-paint camera alone is enough to draw the eye of any photographer, but one worn down to the brass like this humble Japanese Pentax SP, proudly brandishing dents and scratches as testaments to surviving through history, is certainly worthy of attention in 2020. It might be a bit cliché, but the question has to be asked: can you imagine what this camera must have seen?

Donated by Mike Donat

Pentax Spotmatic SP camera

This Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic SP camera saw quite a bit of Northwest Arkansas history. It once belonged to longtime photojournalist Charles Bickford who worked for the Springdale News for almost 40 years. During that time he was one of the best-known photographers in Arkansas. Bickford’s subjects varied from Arkansas football, basketball, and baseball games to politicians speaking from the end of a pickup truck to everyday life events. Many of his photographs and negatives live on in Shiloh Museum’s photo archives as part of the Springdale News Collection.

Later in his career, Charles Bickford sold this Pentax camera to Mike Donat, also a photographer who, amongst a varied career, worked for the Northwest Arkansas Times, shot game and practice footage for the University of Arkansas Athletic Department, worked in Collier Drugstore’s photo department, and in 2006–2007, was the Shiloh Museum’s photographer and darkroom technician. Donat donated this camera, an iconic piece of local photojournalism history, to the Shiloh Museum in 2005.


Bo Williams, the Shiloh Museum’s current photographer/digitization project manager, shares his insight on this Pentax camera:

CAMERA INFO
– Pentax Spotmatic SP in black paint

– Originally released in 1964 but produced until 1976. However, this was likely manufactured pre-1970 due to the lens provided with it (Pentax was not very diligent with correlating their cameras’ serial numbers to specific production dates).
– Manufactured by Asahi Optical Co. in Japan but distributed by Honeywell in the United States

Pentax cameras were, and continue to be, the underdogs of the photographic world. Despite world-renowned quality and innovation, they just never seemed to find the fame that they deserved. Even the Spotmatic SP as seen above was one of the first SLR cameras to include a through-the-lens light meter, a feature that would be considered a given by today’s standards but would have been unheard of sixty years ago. As far as quality is concerned, their lenses are still considered some of the best ever produced, even when compared to contemporary offerings, while many of the camera bodies themselves are still very functional despite being 50+ years old. In fact, I use a Pentax film camera of a similar vintage myself for my own personal work and it has never let me down. Despite all of this, I would imagine that very few readers today will even recognize the Pentax name as they have always lived in the shadow of the likes of the more prevalent Canon and Nikon. This is why, when I was asked to select an artifact from our collection to be highlighted for the Artifact of the Month, I knew immediately what had to be done.

Now for a bit of camera history. Back in the day, photojournalists, press photographers, and war photographers often found themselves in precarious situations while being paid very little to do so. At the same time, budding camera manufacturers such as Pentax usually produced their cameras in two finishes; the cheaper, less durable and inherently more subtle black paint and the now infamous hallmark of any “vintage” camera, silver chrome. The aforementioned working photographers, needing to keep a low profile and some cash in their pockets to buy more film, tended to opt for the cheaper and stealthier black-paint cameras. This was all well and good for a while but then something interesting happened. These photographers found themselves at the precipice of history, quite fortuitously, with a camera in their hand. Their work went on to capture and define world history. The more notoriety the photographers gained, the more attention their cameras received. They became the rock stars of the photographic world and their cameras the equivalent of Fenders and Gibsons. These cameras that were once produced as a cost-saving measure have survived through history to become some of the most sought after and collectible pieces of photographic equipment today. A black-paint camera alone is enough to draw the eye of any photographer, but one worn down to the brass like this humble Japanese Pentax SP, proudly brandishing dents and scratches as testaments to surviving through history, is certainly worthy of attention in 2020. It might be a bit cliché, but the question has to be asked: can you imagine what this camera must have seen?

Toy Horses

Donated by Pat Vaughan

plastic toy horses, circa 1950sDuring the 1950s and 1960s, small plastic figurines like these horses were popular,  inexpensive toys. Four major manufacturers of these plastic playsets were Ajax, Archer, Beton/Bergen, and Lido. According to some sources, Beton/Berger made the first plastic horse figurine only to have their molds copied by the other manufacturers.

Of the four horses seen here, only one bears a manufacturers mark: Lido. Lido toy Company was formed in 1947 by Seymour and Effrem Arenstein, nephews of William Shaland, who owned one of the world’s largest large toy import companies. Lido produced a wide variety of toys until 1964 when it was sold to Bala Industries.

Donated by Pat Vaughan

During the 1950s and 1960s, small plastic figurines like these horses were popular,  inexpensive toys. Four major manufacturers of these plastic playsets were Ajax, Archer, Beton/Bergen, and Lido. According to some sources, Beton/Berger made the first plastic horse figurine only to have their molds copied by the other manufacturers.

Of the four horses seen here, only one bears a manufacturers mark: Lido. Lido toy Company was formed in 1947 by Seymour and Effrem Arenstein, nephews of William Shaland, who owned one of the world’s largest large toy import companies. Lido produced a wide variety of toys until 1964 when it was sold to Bala Industries.

Swanky Swigs

Donated by Susan and Orville Hall Jr.

Swanky SwigsThese small beverage glasses, popularly known as “Swanky Swigs,” belonged to the Orville and Janie Hall family of Fayetteville. The glasses seen here date from the 1930s through the 1950s. 

The term “Swanky Swig” was coined by Kraft Foods. In 1933 Kraft began offering their processed cheese spreads in reusable glass containers they called Swanky Swigs. It was a marketing strategy to encourage housewives to purchase Kraft’s products during the Great Depression, when money was tight. Once the jars were empty, they could be washed out and used as beverage glasses. The glass jars were produced by Hazel Atlas Glass Co. The first Swanky Swigs were hand painted. 

More than eighteen different Swanky Swig designs were produced from the 1930s into the 1970s, including stars, solid color bands, animals, and some of the floral patterns seen here. During their heyday, Swanky Swigs were produced for markets in the United States, Canada, and Australia. The popularity of Swanky Swigs led other food companies to produce their own version of a decorated reusable glass container, but among glass collectors, the term “Swanky Swig” is used only when referring to glasses made by Kraft. 

In 1974, Fayetteville’s Safeway grocery store advertised Kraft cheese spreads in Swanky Swigs: olive, pimento, olive-pimento, and pineapple cheese spreads were 49 cents each; cheese and bacon, and Old English flavored spreads were 55 cents each (Northwest Arkansas Times, November 24, 1974).

Donated by Susan and Orville Hall Jr.

These small beverage glasses, popularly known as “Swanky Swigs,” belonged to the Orville and Janie Hall family of Fayetteville. The glasses seen here date from the 1930s through the 1950s. 

The term “Swanky Swig” was coined by Kraft Foods. In 1933 Kraft began offering their processed cheese spreads in reusable glass containers they called Swanky Swigs. It was a marketing strategy to encourage housewives to purchase Kraft’s products during the Great Depression, when money was tight. Once the jars were empty, they could be washed out and used as beverage glasses. The glass jars were produced by Hazel Atlas Glass Co. The first Swanky Swigs were hand painted. 

More than eighteen different Swanky Swig designs were produced from the 1930s into the 1970s, including stars, solid color bands, animals, and some of the floral patterns seen here. During their heyday, Swanky Swigs were produced for markets in the United States, Canada, and Australia. The popularity of Swanky Swigs led other food companies to produce their own version of a decorated reusable glass container, but among glass collectors, the term “Swanky Swig” is used only when referring to glasses made by Kraft. 

In 1974, Fayetteville’s Safeway grocery store advertised Kraft cheese spreads in Swanky Swigs: olive, pimento, olive-pimento, and pineapple cheese spreads were 49 cents each; cheese and bacon, and Old English flavored spreads were 55 cents each (Northwest Arkansas Times, November 24, 1974).

Bear Brand Teddy Bear

Bear Brand Hosiery teddy bear, circa 1970sDonated by David Quin

This teddy bear was a marketing item for Bear Brand Hosiery Company. Founded in Chicago in 1893 as Paramount Knitting Company, the name was changed to Bear Brand in 1922. At first the company specialized in factory-made fleece-lined men’s socks, later branching out to include stockings for women and casual socks for the whole family.

In 1951, Bear Brand Hosiery opened a factory in south Fayetteville (the present-day location of the Arkansas Research and Technology Park on Cato Springs Road). According to an article in the Northwest Arkansas Times (April 10, 1951), the new plant boasted 280 knitting machines, “hundreds of windows which afford proper lighting,” a special ventilation system, and an employee cafeteria. The knitting machines were to be run on a double shift, yielding an output of 2500 pairs of socks per day. At its full operation, Bear Brand anticipated putting 150 local people to work. 

Bear Brand also opened a plant in Siloam Springs in 1951, followed by factories in Bentonville in 1962 and Rogers in 1968. The 1960s saw Bear Brand’s focus shift to production of women’s pantyhose, making Northwest Arkansas a leader in the pantyhose industry. In 1970, Fayetteville hosted Bear Brand’s annual national sales meeting. Held at the Holiday Inn, the convention featured a “psychadelic, choreographed fashion show” which stressed the “hosiery needs of the liberated woman.” New hosiery styles shown included “those for the woman with a generous figure, thigh-high styles for future fashion in longuette (mid-length) dresses, an over-the-calf style for wearing with pants suits, styles for the young or early teen petite figure, and a nude pantyhose with only the waistband unconcealed.” (Northwest Arkansas Times, June 3, 1970)

The Siloam Springs Bear Brand factory closed in 1975 and the Rogers plant in 1976, with the Bentonville and Fayetteville operations soon to follow.

Donated by David Quin

This teddy bear was a marketing item for Bear Brand Hosiery Company. Founded in Chicago in 1893 as Paramount Knitting Company, the name was changed to Bear Brand in 1922. At first the company specialized in factory-made fleece-lined men’s socks, later branching out to include stockings for women and casual socks for the whole family.

In 1951, Bear Brand Hosiery opened a factory in south Fayetteville (the present-day location of the Arkansas Research and Technology Park on Cato Springs Road). According to an article in the Northwest Arkansas Times (April 10, 1951), the new plant boasted 280 knitting machines, “hundreds of windows which afford proper lighting,” a special ventilation system, and an employee cafeteria. The knitting machines were to be run on a double shift, yielding an output of 2500 pairs of socks per day. At its full operation, Bear Brand anticipated putting 150 local people to work. 

Bear Brand also opened a plant in Siloam Springs in 1951, followed by factories in Bentonville in 1962 and Rogers in 1968. The 1960s saw Bear Brand’s focus shift to production of women’s pantyhose, making Northwest Arkansas a leader in the pantyhose industry. In 1970, Fayetteville hosted Bear Brand’s annual national sales meeting. Held at the Holiday Inn, the convention featured a “psychadelic, choreographed fashion show” which stressed the “hosiery needs of the liberated woman.” New hosiery styles shown included “those for the woman with a generous figure, thigh-high styles for future fashion in longuette (mid-length) dresses, an over-the-calf style for wearing with pants suits, styles for the young or early teen petite figure, and a nude pantyhose with only the waistband unconcealed.” (Northwest Arkansas Times, June 3, 1970)

The Siloam Springs Bear Brand factory closed in 1975 and the Rogers plant in 1976, with the Bentonville and Fayetteville operations soon to follow.

World War I Poster

World War I poster from FranceDonated by Lonnie Walker

The 1918 World War I poster from France was discovered in a trunk in an old hotel in Eureka Springs (Carroll County). The trunk, which contained posters, army manuals, maps, and letters, had belonged to 1st Lt. John Harold Lawson (1897-1966), who served with the Illinois 123rd Field Artillery 33rd Division during World War I. Following the war,Lawson returned to his hometown of Kewanee, Illinois, where he lived with his mother while attending college. From 1938 to 1960 he and his wife, Leora, lived in Topeka, Kansas, where he worked as an accountant for Kansas Power and Light Company. Both John and Leora Lawson are buried in the Eureka Springs Cemetery.

The “Union of French Associations Against Enemy Propaganda” commissioned French artist Maurice Neumont to create the artwork. Neumont depicts a soldier wearing a gas mask standing on a war-torn field. Behind him in a cloud of smoke is the phrase, “They Shall Not Pass! 1914–1918.” At the bottom of the poster is a message from the soldier, who is speaking to French civilians. It reads,

Twice I have held and won on the Marne,
Civilian, my brother,
The underhanded offensive of the “white peace” will assault you in your turn,
Like me, you must hold and win, be strong and shrewd,
Beware of German hypocrisy.

The soldier refers to two battles that were waged along the Marne River in France; both were Allied victories over the German armies. “White Peace” is a term used to describe a settlement where nations agree to cease fighting, with no annexations or reparations exchanged. The implyed message of the poster is that, for France, true peace can only come with victory.

Donated by Lonnie Walker

The 1918 World War I poster from France was discovered in a trunk in an old hotel in Eureka Springs (Carroll County). The trunk, which contained posters, army manuals, maps, and letters, had belonged to 1st Lt. John Harold Lawson (1897-1966), who served with the Illinois 123rd Field Artillery 33rd Division during World War I. Following the war,Lawson returned to his hometown of Kewanee, Illinois, where he lived with his mother while attending college. From 1938 to 1960 he and his wife, Leora, lived in Topeka, Kansas, where he worked as an accountant for Kansas Power and Light Company. Both John and Leora Lawson are buried in the Eureka Springs Cemetery.

The “Union of French Associations Against Enemy Propaganda” commissioned French artist Maurice Neumont to create the artwork. Neumont depicts a soldier wearing a gas mask standing on a war-torn field. Behind him in a cloud of smoke is the phrase, “They Shall Not Pass! 1914–1918.” At the bottom of the poster is a message from the soldier, who is speaking to French civilians. It reads,

Twice I have held and won on the Marne,
Civilian, my brother,
The underhanded offensive of the “white peace” will assault you in your turn,
Like me, you must hold and win, be strong and shrewd,
Beware of German hypocrisy.

The soldier refers to two battles that were waged along the Marne River in France; both were Allied victories over the German armies. “White Peace” is a term used to describe a settlement where nations agree to cease fighting, with no annexations or reparations exchanged. The implyed message of the poster is that, for France, true peace can only come with victory.

Powwow Souvenir

1907 powwow souvenirIn October 1907, Collinsville, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), was the site of an event billed as “the last great powwow before [Oklahoma] statehood.” Hosted by Shawnee chief Henry Spybuck, tribal members from throughout Oklahoma came to participate in traditional ceremonies. The attendance of Geronimo, chief of the Apaches, was fuel for much newspaper fodder, as he was being held as a prisoner of war at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma. According to the Indian Republicannewspaper (Tulsa, Oklahoma), the U.S. government granted Geronimo and other Apache Indians living on Fort Sill’s “military reservation” permission to travel to the powwow, under escort of armed soldiers. Other chiefs at the powwow included Cherokee chief William Charles Rogers,  Osage chief O lo co wah la, Comanche chief Quanah Parker, and Kiowa chief Lone Wolf.

This souvenir badge from the 1907 powwow is part of the Shiloh Museum’s William Guy Howard Collection. Howard (1876-1965) moved to Northwest Arkansas from Nebraska as a young boy. He had a lifetime of public service in Springdale as city attorney during World War I, mayor during World War II, and municipal judge in the 1950s. To many local folks, Howard was known simply as “the Judge.” He was also a collector of prehistoric and Native American artifacts, which he displayed floor-to-ceiling in his home. In 1966 the Springdale City Council voted to purchase Howard’s massive collection of some 10,000 prehistoric and historic artifacts and 260 books and pamphlets on anthropology and archeology. This was the founding collection of the Shiloh Museum.

In October 1907, Collinsville, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), was the site of an event billed as “the last great powwow before [Oklahoma] statehood.” Hosted by Shawnee chief Henry Spybuck, tribal members from throughout Oklahoma came to participate in traditional ceremonies. The attendance of Geronimo, chief of the Apaches, was fuel for much newspaper fodder, as he was being held as a prisoner of war at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma. According to the Indian Republican newspaper (Tulsa, Oklahoma), the U.S. government granted Geronimo and other Apache Indians living on Fort Sill’s “military reservation” permission to travel to the powwow, under escort of armed soldiers. Other chiefs at the powwow included Cherokee chief William Charles Rogers,  Osage chief O lo co wah la, Comanche chief Quanah Parker, and Kiowa chief Lone Wolf.

This souvenir badge from the 1907 powwow is part of the Shiloh Museum’s William Guy Howard Collection. Howard (1876-1965) moved to Northwest Arkansas from Nebraska as a young boy. He had a lifetime of public service in Springdale as city attorney during World War I, mayor during World War II, and municipal judge in the 1950s. To many local folks, Howard was known simply as “the Judge.” He was also a collector of prehistoric and Native American artifacts, which he displayed floor-to-ceiling in his home. In 1966 the Springdale City Council voted to purchase Howard’s massive collection of some 10,000 prehistoric and historic artifacts and 260 books and pamphlets on anthropology and archeology. This was the founding collection of the Shiloh Museum.