☰ Menu
Art Deco Cameras

Sears & Roebuck Tower 43


Sears & Roebuck Tower 43
Sears & Roebuck Tower 43
Manufacturer: Ansco
Produced: 1948
Classification:Medium Format
Body Type:Box
Construction:Cardboard, Wood, Metal
Film Type:120
Film width:62mm
Image Size:2¼ x 3¼ in
No. of Images:8
Lens Type:Meniscus
Focus Type:Fixed
Focal Length:105mm
Focus Range:7ft to inf.
Aperture Type :Fixed
Aperture :f/16 / f/22
Shutter Type:Rotary
Shutter Speeds:I*(1/40 sec)
Size (w x h x d):95 x 107 x 120 mm
* Measured on this camera

Art Deco Credentials

Limited: Minor and insubstantial


The Sears & Roebuck Tower 43 was made by Ansco. Although it is a simple camera made from cardboard, wood and metal, it is particularly well made. It is capable of capturing eight 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 inch exposures on standard no. 120 roll film. This basic box construction hadn't changed much from when box cameras first appeared half a century earlier. The camera is made of a water resistant fiber body covered in black imitation leather, with a decorative stainless steel faceplate. The back is also made of metal. The shutter assembly is supported with a wooded block. There is normally a leather handle on the top.

Tower 43 with Flash Unit

The camera was fitted with a fixed focus lens for taking photos from about 7 feet to infinity. There are two apertures available f/16 and f/22, changed by pulling a tab on the side - Out is f/22. There is only one shutter speed available - 1/40s.

The glass single meniscus lens is located at the front before the shutter and aperture stop. Film advance is by the use of a ruby window on the back door. It has a black plastic winding knob. The viewfinder is a reverse galilean type and runs the length of the camera. It is very small and difficult to use. There is no cable release socket and no tripod mount.

There are two terminals on the top of the camera for the connection of a flash unit. The flash unit recommended is the Anscoflash Type III which is branded Tower. There is a fairly limited range over which the flash will give acceptable pictures. The recommended bulbs are '5+25'. The moulded ribbing on the flash unit is reminiscent of the Art Deco period.

For maintenance, the metal faceplate of the camera can be taken off by lifting tabs away from two small pegs which gives access to the shutter and the back of the lens.

How to Use

Find the User Manual for this camera here:- Sears & Roebuck Tower 43 manual.

This camera takes 120 film which is easily available.

As the shutter speed is only 1/40s, it is advisable to use a tripod to get clear shake free images. However, holding it against a wall or other solid object would work as well. For quick snapshots, hold it firmly against your body.

If you don't want to bother with an exposure meter, follow the guide shown. It is based on the 'Sunny 16' rule. Film is so forgiving and will produce acceptable results even when overexposed by 2 or 3 stops or underexposed by 1 stop.

The tables assume that the sun is at least 30 degrees above the horizon - that's 10am - 5pm on a summers day (May - August) in the UK.

Remember that the exposure guide in the manual may not be helpful as it is based on the use of old film with a low ISO value.

Using ISO 100/125 film - shutter speed 1/40s

Weather ConditionsShadow DetailApertureExposure
with sharp edges
f/22+1 Stop
Slight OvercastSoft around edgesf/16Good
OvercastBarely visiblef/16-1 Stop
Heavy OvercastNonef/16-2 Stops
Not Acceptable
Open Shade
Nonef/16-3 Stops
Not Acceptable