Monthly Archives: June 2014


June 23, 1937

Following on from David Simkin’s guest post of last week, above is the first of a very rare series of eight Photoweigh photobooth photos that I own. I have never seen another long sequence of the same person in this type of machine. I have arranged them in correct chronological order, if they are dated but have guessed the order for the rest of them. They were all taken in the UK.


June 26, 1937


25 (Month obscured), 1938


Details faded.


On back – June 1939

On the back of this photo is written Douglas, June 1939. I have presumed that to be a place rather than a person’s name, based on the inscription on another photo, below. There is a town called Douglas in South Lanarkshire in Scotland and the capital of the Isle of Man is also a town called Douglas. The photo could have been taken in either one of these towns, however, the Isle of Man is the more obvious holiday destination. On consulting David Simkin, he confirmed Douglas on the Isle of Man to have been a popular holiday destination at the time these photos were taken, and therefore the most likely location of the Photoweigh booth.


21st of … Other details have faded.

On the back of this photo is written ‘S.Quinn”, which I believe to be the name of the lady pictured in the series.  As the only clearly dated photos were all taken in June of the various years, I like to think that these were a souvenir of her annual holiday, taken at the same time of the year, in the same town and in the same booth over many years.

Each photo measures approximately 40 x 83 mm and they are all printed on a heavier weight stock than is usual for other types of booth photos, but seems to be standard for Photoweigh photos.

For more fascinating information about Automatic Photos and their history please visit  Sussex PhotoHistory and see David Simkin’s guest post on this blog, here.


Details of date have faded or it was never dated.


photoboothMrSyDetail#04 photoboothMrSyDetail#03  photoboothMrSyDetail#01photoboothMrSyDetail#02

I do love a photobooth related novelty and these are some of my favourites. I believe these faux American bills were given free to patrons of Mr Sy’s Casino of Fun in Las Vegas in the 1970s. Is it just a certain prejudice of mine, or are these people just so typical of the types one sees frequenting casinos to this day?

Mr Sy’s no longer exists but you can see what a very fine establishment it was from the postcard image at the bottom of the page! I wonder how much you had to spend on the pokies to get your “free” meal.


photoboothCasino of Mr Sy

Backs of the notes showing the correct address on one and a typographical error for the address on the other.




Early December 1999, Wellington, New Zealand

The only photobooth I was able to find on this trip to visit my travelling buddy Moana in Wellington, was a sticker booth in a game arcade.

I stopped in New Zealand on my way to visit friends in London before going to Dublin to spend Christmas with my sister and her Irish relatives. She and her husband Tim had decided not to make their home in Australia and had returned to live in Ireland where they had first met. They live there to this day.

Moana was working most of my visit and I only managed to get her husband Mark, into the booth. While not my preferred type of photobooth, in the event of nothing better, it is a least a cute souvenir of a trip. To see some previous posts and booth photos of Moana and I together, click here, here and here.

This strip of photos is from my series Photobooth 41 Year Project. You can see all the posts that document the series by clicking here.

Found, Luna Park 08/09/1996

Another found photo from the 90’s. I find these pics extremely amusing. There is something of Frankenstein’s monster in the lobotomised head I have had to “stitch” back on and in the stunned-mullet, slow-brained look on the face of this sitter.  One must say that he and his friend were not the brightest of individuals, having missed most of the flashes before sitting down to pose.

I never found the final photo that looks like it may have actually worked, but that was okay, for I had plenty of fun with the other remnants.

My Fotobooth Frankenstein


18 October 1999, Melbourne

These are the next in my long series of photobooth photos which I started taking and collecting 41 years ago. I have not recorded any details of the location of the booth where the pics were taken, nor the reason for them being taken. I am sure there was a specific reason, as I never cut my photobooth strips unless some are needed for a special purpose. I was soon to be heading off to New Zealand, England and Ireland, so this was possibly a travel related photo.

These come from my series Photobooth 41 Year Project. You can see all the posts that document the series by clicking here.



While probably not the most exciting of booth photos, I did enjoy the smirk on this woman’s face and her obvious pride in her hat, which appears to be covered in real roses. There is nothing about her coat or the rest of her clothes that suggest a woman of great style or substance but still she took pride in her appearance and quite possibly in her luxuriant rose garden.

This photobooth photo measures 40 x 50 mm and comes from the USA. I would guess this photo was taken in the mid 1950s.



From Katherine’s collection

The now extinct Photoweigh photobooth machine took a photograph of the customer as he or she sat on a weighing machine.  Photoweigh photos are rare enough, but even more so the one from my collection above, as it includes the “negative” and a branded folder.


From Katherine’s collection

It is very difficult to find information about Photoweigh machines. I approached UK based photo collector and writer, David Simkin for more information, after finding his online article Automatic Portrait Photographs in which he mentioned the machines. His website Sussex PhotoHistory is designed to be used by people researching their family history, who wish to date family photographs and also for those interested in the history of photography.I highly recommend a visit.

David kindly did this guest post for me –

I am working on the assumption that a Photoweigh machine was installed on or near Brighton’s Palace Pier, (England) sometime in the early or mid 1930s.


Anatol Josepho, the inventor of the first automated photobooth, opened his “Photomaton Studio” in New York City in September 1925. In March 1927, Josepho sold the rights of the Photomaton process to Henry Morgenthau’s business consortium.

By the end of 1927, a British investor group purchased rights to distribute the Photomaton in Europe and Canada.

In 1928, Josepho sold the European rights for the Photomaton to an English/French consortium.

The Photomaton Parent Corporation Limited was set up by Clarence Hatry in 1928 to operate automated photograph machines in hundreds of public places such as railway stations and amusement parks.


I presume that by 1930, the novelty of the coin-operated photobooth had waned and that entrepreneurs were looking for a novelty or gimmicky variation on the self-operated portrait photo booth. Someone came up with the idea of a “Photoweigh” machine, a piece of apparatus, which took a photographic portrait of a customer as he or she sat on a weighing machine. The resulting photo strip would give details of the weight of the sitter as well as displaying the usual photographic portrait.

The earliest evidence I have found of an apparatus in England that took a small photographic portrait, while recording the weight of the sitter, is a photo of a bespectacled man wearing a trilby hat, with a tobacco pipe clamped between his lips. According to the printed display, the photograph was taken on 29th October 1931 at Selfridges Department Store, London. The photobooth photo (below) was sold on eBay in May 2014 for £10.50, (US $17.85). This early example does not carry the trademark of Photoweigh Limited.

photoboothPhotoweighDidn't win 10PoundsEbay

Ebay scan

Photoweigh Ltd. is mentioned as a recently established business in the 1933 edition of the British Journal of Photography. A firm called the American Automatic Photoweigh Company Inc. was listed in the American State of Delaware in 1934.

The 1933 edition (Volume 80) of the British Journal of Photography lists Photoweigh Limited as a recently registered company (viz. ” Photoweigh. Ltd. (276,512). — Private company. Registered June 1. Capital, £5,000, in 4,000 5% redeemable non-cumulative preference shares of £1, and 20,000 ordinary shares of 1s. each. Objects: to carry on the business of manufacturers and dealers in optical, scientific, photographic and industrial instruments, cinematograph and other films, projectors, cameras and magic lanterns, etc.”).

Presumably, Photoweigh Ltd. set up a booth near or on Brighton’s Palace Pier between June 1933 and 1938.

In his 1938 novel “Brighton Rock“, the writer Graham Green mentions the Photoweigh kiosk being located in the tunnel under the Palace Pier in “the noisiest, lowest, cheapest section of Brighton’s amusements”.

A Photoweigh booth (owned in the 1960s and early 1970s by George Keeble) was situated on Brighton’s Palace Pier until 1972.


I very recently received a Photoweigh photo from Clifford Groves of Brighton. (Above) The photograph was taken in 1964. Cliff Groves explained the circumstances in which it was taken. 
”I am the good looking one on the right, the other chap is Gil Tipping – a good friend of mine still after 50 years. We were both working the summer season on the Palace Pier, in the “Palace of Fun”. There were no gaming machines only what we called “gaffs”. These were very similar to fairground stalls. Gil was running a bingo stall and I was on air rifles. The mods and rockers were creating havoc on the seafront the day the smudge (photo) was taken and it was 
(as the Chinese say) an interesting time – battles galore!

Once again, here is the Sussex PhotoHistory link. Please explore this wonderful photographic resource.

From David's collection

From David’s collection. Like mine with the negative and folder, (top of page) this is a very rare item.


Another Ebay item


9 October 1999, Melbourne

This is seven month old guide-dog puppy, Charlie. He was my pride and joy for twelve months when I was his puppy-raiser. He was a very diligent worker. He became a professional dog after graduating with flying colours from his full training at Guide Dogs Victoria.

Charlie became a lifeline for a lovely woman whose eyesight had deteriorated rapidly in the years leading up to her application for a guide-dog. I imagine he would be well and truly retired by now, if not already in doggy heaven.

Although not recorded on the back of the strip, this was most likely taken in one of the Flinders Street photobooths, as I made every effort to get Charlie into town regularly for his socialisation and traffic training.

This strip of photos is from my series Photobooth 41 Year Project. You can see all the posts that document the series by clicking here.

Pretty little Barb is posing so beautifully in this photobooth image, that it is tempting to assume that she had already been in a booth on more than one previous occasion. Barbara’s full name is hand written in ink on the back of this photo but unfortunately the script is mostly illegible after her first name. At some point someone has added in pencil, Barb, aged 4 1/2.


This is a large format photobooth photo that has been hand coloured. It could possibly be an enlargement of a smaller booth photo, however as there were some machines that produced larger size images, I would say from the quality and crispness of the photo that this is indeed the original size.

Barb is wearing what I think is a lapel boutonniere, which I believe is the correct term for a flower that has a small tube water supply, that can be attached to clothing. I am not sure of this interpretation, so please take a look at the detail below and let me know what you think.

photoboothBarbHandcoloured detail


The photo measures 60 x 83 mm and came from the USA.

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