Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

May Fair Box Camera

Houghton-Butcher Manufacturing Co Ltd.

Name: May Fair Box Camera
Manufacturer: Houghton-Butcher Manufacturing Co Ltd.
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Construction: Wooden bodied box camera, finished in black imitation leather.

The back is hinged down one edge, providing access to the film. The film carrier assembly is fixed in the camera - the film is accessible directly at the rear of the camera.

Production Period:  


Plate / Film Size: E29 rollfilm
Lens: Unknown
Shutter: Single speed flip-flop shutter
Movements: None
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example: c1934
Serial Number: None
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 465

Image of May Fair E29 box camera


May Fair box camera, not directly attributed to Houghton-Butcher, but carrying an Ensign label for E29 film inside. The camera is a black version of the common blue E29 box camera. It has the fixing points for the portrait attachment, but the attachment itself is absent. The original handle is intact, with 'May Fair' impressed into the surface. It has a May Fair badge pinned to the front face of the camera.

The instructions identify this as sourced from Ardath Tobacco Co. The date stamp on the packaging appears to be 8 JNE 34, but the '4' is not clear. This May Fair variant is not shown in the 1933 Ardath premium gift catalogue but does appear in a later booklet.

Image of May Fair E29 box camera

The camera was purchased complete with its original corrugated card dispatch box with address label and indistinct date stamp. The return address is shown as 13 Margraving Road, London, W16. The pack also contained the original instruction leaflet for the camera, dedicated to this model alone. There is no reference to Houghton-Butcher as the manufacturer.

May Fair E29 box camera instruction sheet


The E29 May Fair box camera is far less common than the metal bodied portrait box camera; I have seen only a few examples of this camera.

Further information about the group of cameras that were available through the Ardath Tobacco Company premium scheme and the premium scheme itself can be found on the page dedicated to the May Fair premium scheme.