The Autopoze Self-timer
This device is a self-timer accessory. Self-timers delay the opening of a shutter giving a photographer time to be included in the photograph. The Faries Shutter Tripper is possibly the first, or second self-timing device marketed in the United States.
This accessory was patented January 14, 1902. At that time, shutters did not have built-in self-timers as most cameras do today. If my research is correct, this is the second self-timer patent issued in the United States. The patent that I believe was first relied upon a lit fuse for its operation!
In the upper right area of the photograph, at the top of the device is a remnant of a red rubber hose. An air hose was used to connect the self-timer to a camera's shutter release. Many shutters of this period allowed a photographer to stand a distance from the camera and release the shutter remotely. To do this a rubber hose with squeeze ball was connected to a metal cylinder mounted on the shutter. Squeezing the ball caused air to rush into the cylinder. A piston in the cylinder moved in response to the air and a mechanical linkage attached to the end of the piston fired the shutter.
Robert Faries' invention was designed to trip the pneumatic type of shutter release described above. Here's how it works. Connect a rubber hose to the self-timer. Attach the other end of the hose to the shutter cylinder. Pull up on the self-timer's plunger, and release. Run around the camera and get into the picture. Air will slowly leak from the self-timer's cylinder. At a certain point, a valve is tripped, releasing all the air at once. This sudden stream of air is what causes the shutter to fire.
Follow this link to view the Faries Shutter Tripper patent documents and also to see the first U.S.A. self-timer patent.
Patent Drawing Showing Self-timer Attached to a Camera Shutter
After years of searching I located an advertisement for the Faries Shutter Tripper. I've referred to this self-timer as the Shutter Tripper because that was the name given in the patent documents. But it turns out the Shutter Tripper was marketed as the Autopoze. The Autopoze ad was hiding out in the August, 1901 issue of Camera Craft.
Autopoze Advertisement from August, 1901 issue of Camera Craft magazine
Graphically speaking this advertisement is busy. Really busy. Though I'd run across this ad before, my eyes didn't want to focus on the copy. It wasn't until recently that I spotted the name Faries at the bottom of the page, looked closer, and realized this was it! I'll bet this ad did not help sales.
To save your eyes from undue strain, I've transcribed the text below:
"Suitable for all Pneumatic Shutters. A full Substitute for Bulb and More. Can be set to trip off in a few Seconds or up to 2 minutes. Gives all of the Automatic Shutter Exposures and with Shutter set at "B" will give Time Exposure from 3 to 12 Seconds. DON'T LEAVE YOURSELF OUT OF THE GROUP. BE YOUR OWN LIFE in the LANDSCAPE, Horseman, Bicycler, Fisherman, Hunter, Shepherd, or what not. TAKE AN "AUTOPOZE" WITH YOU ON YOUR OUTING AND BRING BACK EVIDENCE THAT YOU WERE THERE. BY MAIL $2.50 Circular. FARIES MFG CO, DECATUR, ILL."
Page created June 4, 2001; updated December 20, 2020