Posted in cameras, photography, Uncategorized

pocket treasures

It’s tuesday and whilst my heart chokes on the INCRDeibly salty pub grub I reflect on my latest treasure.

Yesterdays trip to belfast ended quite fruitfully, as I’ve been after this little item since late last year. It was in a tiny antique shop at the back of an older commercial district. Actually the shop might not be that small simply the avalache of goods which pours at near glacial speed down the walls just makes it seem small. Every crack and crevice and space bulges with historical goods.
The piles had re located slightly since I’d last been and it seems someone had broken into his shop. It was the first time the owner had opened his store since the break-in and he was carefully restoring one of the pieces destroyed. Thankfully the theives didn’t know their antiques from their asses and the most vavluable stuff hadn’t even been touched.

I was worried that what I was after was gone or buried. It took a long visual search to find. Since it was expensive enough and I wanted to bargin down I couldn’t just ask do you still have ..? That’s a sure fire way to loose any barganing power.
Not that either party minded how long it took as the more time spent the more and more things the owner could show off and i’ll certainly go back there again. Not in a hurry though. This is a lesson in history. This is not to be rushed.
The owner was a retired gentleman with an accent I could not place and a glint in his eye everytime he picked up a sword to tell it’s tale. “this is from the battle of the boyne” says he, “you know the battle. Yes? NO! You only THINK you know!” “they should not have won. No. Already they had lost. That should be end of the story. BUt .. ” waggin his fingers for emphasis and looking over the brim of his glasses straight at me as a lecturer to student “they had been partying. Too many celebrations. Too much of the taking and the drinking and the women. When they fought it was with their trousers around their ankles I think. And so. They lost.” he looks at me triumphant and expectatant. Waiting perhaps for my amazment over the revelation. “ah. You don’t believe me.. Look here. I can Prove it to you” and so every item lead to every other item, bouncing back and forth through history. From 20 years to 20,000 years from continent to continent, and every war ever held. It was great.

Until, finally, the day was getting late and the prize had been found. A world war I ensignette english army pocket camera. Made in london and designed in 1907. A beautifull piece of equiment. Nicknamed a vest camera because it was small enough to fit into a vest pocket. It’s a pure metal case. Brass I think. It was a good weight to it for something so compact. When folded up it’s roughly the size of a ten pack of cigarettes. About five inches long and one inch deep. When unfolded (by pushing the front up from both left and right side simultaneously) the lens and bellows (completely intact in this. yay) bring the camera to a depth of roughly five inches.
It’s so simple yet quite clever. The billows comes out on metal runners which fold into the case when not in use. The options on the f-stops are so basic that turning the dial from f16 or f11 merely swings around a smaller or larger hole! I love these solutions to problems. Simple. Effective.
It also means these lil blighters last for years and can still function. It is a shame that it’s a prepriatry film make but i’ve seen guys on the internet getting photos out of older cameras using chopped up 36mil so i’m sure something can be done 🙂


a bit of a shutter bug with a soft spot for antique cameras

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