Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Ensign Box-Form Cameras

Houghtons Limited

Name: General Box cameras
Manufacturer: Houghtons Ltd.
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Construction: Conventional wooden bodied box form camera, although many (perhaps all) are side-loading.
Movements: None
Production Period:  

Houghtons Ensign Box-Form cameras were made to suit a number of distinct film sizes, notably 2A, 2 and 3B.

I have been attempting to consolidate data relating to different identities given to rollfilm sizes based on a number of references and contemporary advertisements. This is very much work in progress, but the current version is captured in pdf format here. If you have further information available then please get in touch.

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Model / Variant: 2A Box-Form Ensign (2 x 2)
Plate / Film Size: Ensign 2A rollfilm
Lens: Unknown
Shutter: Simple T & I shutter
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example: c1907?
Serial Number:  
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 595

Image of Ensign Box Camera sold by Houghtons Ltd

Description

Basic box camera for 2 1/4" square pictures, which is almost identical in form to the Butcher Maxim No 1. Unlike the Butcher, it does not have a fold over card inside the camera that goes over the film when loaded and carries no statement about the film size to use. Single viewfinder. Side removed by squeezing clips on top and bottom face to allow film to be changed (as Butcher Maxim).

The photograph below shows both cameras side by side, open to show the differences in the film carrier.

Image showing Houghtons Ensign and Butcher Maxim No 1 Box Cameras side by side

It is in good condition, with only very minor signs of age and use. Round decal is very clear on the front face but simply carries the picture of a bulldog's face. Was this an early advertising mark used by Houghton's before N-sign trade mark? The Ensign name appears on a metal plate attached to the side of the camera. The strap is plain.

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Model / Variant: 2A Box-Form Ensign (2 x 2)
Plate / Film Size: Ensign 2A rollfilm
Lens: Rapid Achromatic lens
Shutter: Simple T & I shutter
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example: c1920?
Serial Number:  
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 5

Image showing Houghtons Ensign Box Form Camera

Description

Small box camera, with Houghton badge central on the front. This is the more usual roundel pattern that reads "Made by Houghtons Ltd London" and has the Ensign flag in the centre. Compare this to the previous (earlier) example that has a British Bulldog symbol in the same position.

The leather handle is embossed with the name "Ensign" and it is identified as a 2A Box Form Ensign on the inner face of the black mask that is hinged to the rear of the film carrier.

Note that the method of locking the film carrier in place has also changed in this later model. The Squeeze together clips used in the previous example (#595) have been replaced with sliding latches.

This example has suffered some damage to the shutter as the release has been replaced with a metal rod and the lever used to select Time and Instantaneous settings has broken off.

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Model / Variant: 2 Box-Form Ensign
Plate / Film Size: Ensign 2 rollfilm (2 x 4), equivalent to Kodak 116
Lens: Rapid Achromatic lens with wheel stops
Shutter: Simple T & I shutter
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example: c1910?
Serial Number:  
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 116

<Photographs to be added>

Description

Simple box of wooden construction with rotating wheel stop on front of body and simply T & I shutter. Side loading. The example of the Box Form camera shown in the Ensign Handbook for 1913 appears to be more advanced than this model.

Notes

Details such as the lens have been taken from The Ensign Handbook of Photography. Frustratingly these books, which include catalogues, do not carry a clear publication date. However Adrian Richmond's Ensign web site (www.ensign.demon.co.uk) identifies the date of many of these catalogues.