|Sears, Roebuck catalog of Autumn, 1900|
Yes, a complete professional Photographer's kit for $15.35 appeared in the Sears, Roebuck catalog in the Autumn of 1900. Two of the pages inside the catalog are for view camera kits that can help anyone “start in a pleasant and good paying business.”
Back then, photography is still a little understood profession. Ansel Adams was not even born. The market was not crowded with aspiring photographers like today, so it may have been easier to stand out with your photography services as long as you had some 'professional' equipment.
Taking into account inflation and the year 1900, $15.35 was still a bit of money then, but it was not an unaffordable amount for those who are serious in pursuing a profession. Roughly speaking, it would be equivalent to about $420 in 2012 money. That’s how much high-end professional cameras cost those days.
When I bought my Canon EOS-1 in 1989, it cost me over $1,000. The first Canon digital camera, the D30 cost me over $3,000 in 2000 and the Canon EOS-1Ds Mk III cost me $8,000 in 2008. Now one can buy the Canon EOS-5D Mk III for less than $3,000 and it outperforms the 1Ds Mk III with little difficulty. That's enough to make me Wax Nostalgic and send chills up my spine next time I pull out my wallet to buy the latest professional Canon camera equipment.
Visit my website MichaelDanielHo.com to see travel and wildlife photos taken over the decades, around the world with many different camera equipment.