Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Ensign Midget

Houghton-Butcher Manufacturing Co Ltd.

Name: Ensign Midget
Manufacturer: Houghton-Butcher Manufacturing Co Ltd.
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Construction: Metal bodied (pressed steel) miniature folding camera with tapered supporting struts that fold away into the body.  When extended, the struts are designed to hold the front panel in a rigid position.
Plate / Film Size: E10 rollfilm
Movements: None
Dimensions (w x h x l): 7.5 x 4.5 x 1.7 cm
Production Period: 1934 - 1941

The Ensign Midget is a delightful little camera that sits comfortably in the palm of your hand.

Initially the camera was made in two variants, referred to as the A/D and A/N. The A/D had a simple fixed focus lens, but the A/N was equipped with a focussing Ensar-Anastigmat lens. Both forms had a simple 3 speed shutter.

However by 1935 a third, more basic version of the camera was to be introduced, which led to the model names being changed to a simple number sequence of Model 22, Model 33 and Model 55, which reflected their respective prices (in shillings) at that date.

The Model 22 has a completely different style of front panel, with alternating chrome and black vertical stripes and the camera name printed diagonally across the front. It also differs from the other models in that it does not have the fold-up frame finder on the top edge, relying upon a much simpler finder that swings up on the back of the camera. The fold-out viewfinder is also absent on this model.

The cameras were old in boxes with a black leather slip case. The boxes often survive and are usually found in an orange colour with blue writing.

There was also a special variant produced in 1935 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of George V and Queen Mary. Refer to the separate page on the Silver Jubilee model for further information.

Adrian Richmond, an authority on all things Ensign (www.ensign.demon.co.uk), notes that production of the Midget ceased in about 1941 as Ensign Ltd were obliged to focus their production efforts upon war work.

The photo below shows a Model 33 (on the left) and a Model 55, with examples of the later pattern of packaging, with instructions and an Ensign film tin.

Image of Ensign Midget Cameras (Models 33 and 55)

(Image Amateur Photographer 2011, taken for an article by Ivor Matanle and reproduced with kind permission)

Model / Variant: Model 55
Lens: Focusing Ensar-Anastigmat lens
Shutter: Simple T, B & I (3 speed) shutter
Date of this Example: TBD
Serial Number: None found
Availability:
  • Common [x]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 6

Refer to the photograph at the head of the page; The Ensign Midget Model 55 is shown (closed) on the right of the picture.

Description

The Model 55 differs from the Model 33 in having a focussing lens, which therefore changes the design of the front panel very slightly to incorporate distance markings around the lens.

The camera came with its original sales box, in excellent condition, finished in orange with blue writing.  Black leather pouch case, in good condition.  It also retained its instructions and guarantee form - which identifies the manufacturer as Ensign Ltd, with a drawing of the factory in Walthamstow.

~ # ~ # ~

Model / Variant: Model 33
Lens: Meniscus lens
Shutter: Simple T, B & I (3 speed) shutter
Date of this Example: TBD
Serial Number: None found
Availability:
  • Common [x]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 207

Refer to the photograph at the head of the page; The Ensign Midget Model 33 is shown on the left of the picture.

Description

Fixed focus version of the camera, which in other respects is very similar to the Model 55.

Original sales box, in very good condition, complete with instructions. This is a two-part slip box, both parts of which are in very good order. Leather pouch case, in very good condition.

~ # ~ # ~

Model / Variant: Model 22
Plate / Film Size: E10 rollfilm
Lens: Meniscus lens
Shutter: Simple T & I (single speed) shutter
Date of this Example: TBD
Serial Number: None found
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 15

Image of Ensign Midget Camera (Model 22)

(Image Amateur Photographer 2011, taken for an article by Ivor Matanle and reproduced with kind permission)

Description

The Ensign Midget Model 22 camera has a distinctive panel design that is one of several key differences between it and the other two models (see general description at top of page).

Label inside the back of the camera reads "This camera takes Ensign LUKOS film".

Notes

The Midget was made in large numbers and was sold widely around the world. Examples often turn up and are often in good condition. It is not uncommon to find them with their original packaging.

There is also a Silver Jubilee model, produced in 1935.

It is also possible to find other related ephemera such as tins that contained the films and advertising material.