Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

No 12 Watch Pocket Carbine (Tropical)

Houghton-Butcher Manufacturing Co Ltd.

Name: Ensign Carbine (Tropical)
Manufacturer: Houghton-Butcher Manufacturing Co Ltd.
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Construction: Folding camera of conventional upright format but with a body constructed of brass, or brass and teak, with a finish described either as copper oxidised or as Florentine bronze, and intended for tropical use. The bellows is of Russia leather and, according to the maker's advertisement, was "extra-proofed against insects".
Production Period: 1926 - 1930s according to model (refer to Notes)

Image of the Ensign Carbine Tropical cameras made by Houghton-Butcher

Model / Variant: No 4 Ensign Carbine (Tropical Model)
Plate / Film Size: Ensign 2B (120) rollfilm for picture 2" x 3"
Lens: Aldis Uno Anastigmat F=4.75", f7.7
Shutter: Trichro 3 speed 1/25 to 1/100, B & T
Movements: None
Dimensions (w x h x d): 8.5 x 16 x 3cms (closed)
Date of this Example: c1927
Serial Number: Serial E16149 stamped into name badge on folding bed
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 656

 

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Description

The No 4 Ensign Carbine Tropical model is the entry level model of the tropical Carbine cameras, fitted with a 3-speed Trichro shutter and Aldis Uno Anastigmat lens. This lens and shutter combination appears to be the only option available with this model, based on adverts in the BJPA. It has a brass body, but of lighter and less substantial construction than the more expensive No 6 Ensign Carbine.

"Ensign Carbine Tropical Model" is engraved into the front face of the camera folding bed (see photo), with "Ensign Carbine" repeated on the nickel plated stand. The model number is shown on a name badge on the inside face of the folding bed as the "No 4 Ensign Carbine" and is repeated again on a badge positioned just below the viewfinder lens.

The No 4 Ensign Carbine has no movements such as rising or cross front. The focus scale incorporates three preset positions that engage with catch on the lens standard. The camera is fitted with a central collapsing viewfinder. A distinctive feature of this model is that it is fitted with a brass chain carry handle.

The tropical carbine models appeared in a number of adverts in the BJPA between 1926 and 1930. The No 4 Ensign Carbine is advertised in the 1928 edition. There it differentiates between the finish on this model and that used for the No 6 and No 12, describing the finish on latter as "copper-oxidised Florentine bronze", while the finish on this model is described as "oxidised and semi-polished"

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Model / Variant: No 6 Ensign Carbine (Tropical Model)
Plate / Film Size: Ensign 2B (120) rollfilm for picture 2" x 3"
Lens: Ross Xpress F105mm, f4.5 Serial 110228
Shutter: Dial-set Compur Serial 937077
Movements: Rising front set by screw adjustment
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example: c1927
Serial Number: Serial D23023 stamped into name badge on folding bed, inside back and repeated on edging around bellows inside back
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 655

 

ClicPic Photos copyright 2016 David Purcell. Do not use without permission.
Click small picture to enlarge.   ClicPic Gallery Software.

Description

The No 6 Ensign Carbine Tropical model takes the same film as the No 4 model, but is a more sophisticated camera, with superior lens and shutter. According to contemporary advertising, the brass body is finished in "copper-oxidised Florentine bronze".

"Ensign Carbine Tropical Model" is engraved into the front face of the camera drop bed, with "Carbine" repeated on the nickel plated stand. The model number is shown on a name badge on the inside face of the folding bed as the "No 6 Ensign Carbine".

Unlike the No 4 Ensign Carbine, the No 6 was offered with a number of shutter and lens options. Five options were described in advertisement for this camera in the 1929 BJPA, with significant variation in the pricing. The combination of the Ross Xpress lens in a Compur shutter found on this example was the most expensive listed at a prince of 12 7s 6d, while the cheapest available option was an Aldis Uno Anastigmat f/7.7 in a 6 speed shutter at a much lower price of 7 2s 6d.

The camera has single extension bellows, with radial focusing adjustment from infinity down to approx 5 feet.

The No 6 Ensign Carbine is fitted with a rising front, operated by screw action built into the lens standard. It has a collapsing viewfinder, and retractable rear sight, but the associated front wireframe finder that should be attached to the lens standard is missing on this example.

There is a red Ensign film label inside back of camera identifying the film required as Ensign 2B.

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Model / Variant: No 12 Watch Pocket Carbine (Tropical)
Plate / Film Size: 116 rollfilm
Lens: Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar f4.5 (serial 636955)
Shutter: Dial-set Compur (serial 911383)
Movements: None
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example: c1926
Serial Number: Serial D6883 on edging around bellows inside back.
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 246

 

ClicPic Photos copyright 2016 David Purcell. Do not use without permission.
Click small picture to enlarge.   ClicPic Gallery Software.

Description

No 12 Watch Pocket Carbine Tropical model has a teak frame that is clad in brass, where the finish is described in contemporary advertising as "copper-oxidised Florentine bronze". The No 12 is the largest in the group of tropical Carbine cameras, and takes exposures 2 x 4" in size.

Like the No 6 model, the No 12 Watch Pocket Carbine was offered with several lens and shutter combinations. This example is fitted with the f/4.5 Tessar in a dial-set Compur shutter, one of the more expensive options.

This example is generally in good condition, though it has the usual signs of wear on the metal faces.

The entry for this model in a 1926 catalogue of Ensign and Carbine cameras notes that the bellows incorporates a special valve to prevent suction. The valve is absent on this example.

Later examples also employ the hinged spool retainers (as patent 281802), as seen on the No 4 and No 6 Ensign Carbine models shown on this page.

Notes

The No 4 and No 6 Ensign Carbine cameras are both designed for the same film size, but are of noticeably different quality. The brass bodywork of the No 6 is much more substantial than that of the No 4, and is this is borne out by their respective weights, with the No 4 being approx 570g while the No 6 is approx 750g.

The Carbine range was originally created by W. Butcher & Sons and had been in use for some considerable time. Part of the range of folding cameras was identified as Watch Pocket Carbine, with a series of models identified by number. So Butcher's advert in the 1923 BJPA describes the Watch Pocket Carbine Models 0, 1, 2, 4, 5, 6. Significantly this same advertisement offers a Tropical Model of the No 6 Watch Pocket Carbine, with a metal body that is "proof against deterioration, insect proof Russia leather bellows, bolted back and front and free from material that is affected by the exigencies of damp and torrid zones".

I cannot find any earlier reference to a tropical model, but other sources suggest this variant was introduced by Butchers in 1922. For an example of a Butcher's No 6 Watch Pocket Carbine, follow this link to the Early Photography web site.

The same advert makes no mention of a tropical version of the No 4 Watch Pocket Carbine. There is also no mention of the larger No 12 form. The first advertisement I have found for the tropical version of the No 12 Watch Pocket Carbine appears in a 1926 catalogue of Ensign and Carbine cameras, which identifies it as a "new model". However early versions are to be found that still carry the Butcher's name on the label, but also carry markings relating to the formal merger of Butcher and Houghton in 1926 to form Houghton-Butcher (Great Britain) Ltd, although cameras are marked with the name of the combined manufacturing arm, namely Houghton-Butcher Manufacturer Company Ltd (often seen abbreviated on cameras to "H.B.M.Co.Ltd"). An example of a No 12 Watch Pocket Carbine Tropical that has such mixed markings can be seen on the Early Photography web site. Note that in the 1926 catalogue, both No 6 and No 12 models are identified as Watch Pocket Carbines. This name persisted for the No 12 model, but the No 6 was later identified simply as the No 6 Ensign Carbine.

The first reference I can find to the tropical variant of the No 4 model appears in the 1928 BJPA, but it seems likely that it was available sometime earlier than that date (another source suggests 1927). It was considerably cheaper than either of the other two models, being priced in the 1928 advert at 4 15s, compared to 10 10s for the No 6 and No 12.

By 1931 there is a change in the models shown in the Ensign catalogue. The No 4 is not listed (although it does still appear listed in a 1932 catalogue), the No 12 remains in the catalogue, but the No 6 has gone to be replaced by the No 7 model. This is of a similar design to the No 6, with a body again made entirely of brass but with a back that now has a piano hinge and new fastener, and a rising front that uses a lever mechanism rather than the screw adjustment. The No 7 is also the only one of the set to have a cross front. Like its predecessor it was available with a variety of lens and shutter options.

The No 7 model seems to be the only one that was available beyond the early 1930s.

The table below shows scans of adverts for each of the Ensign / Watch Pocket Carbine Tropical models.

Thumbnail of Advert for No 4 Ensign Carbine Tropical Camera Thumbnail of Advert for No 6 Ensign Carbine Tropical Camera Thumbnail of Advert for No 12 Watch Pocket Carbine Tropical Camera Thumbnail of Advert for No 7 Ensign Carbine Tropical Camera
BJPA 1928
No 4 Ensign Carbine
BJPA 1926
No 6 Ensign Carbine
Catalogue 1926
No 12 Watch Pocket Carbine
Catalogue 1931
No 7 Ensign Carbine
Image of Advert for No 4 Ensign Carbine Tropical Camera

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