Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Holborn-Ilex Hand Camera

Houghtons Limited

Name: The Holborn-Ilex Hand Camera
Manufacturer: Houghtons Ltd.
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Construction: Conventional form of falling plate camera with leather covered mahogany body and rear opening to provide access to load the sheaths holding the plates and an access door beneath to unload them after exposure. The front opens to gain access to the lens and shutter assembly and reveals a highly polished interior.
Production Period: 1898 - TBD


Model / Variant: No 00
Plate / Film Size: ¼ plates
Lens: Rapid Rectilinear f8 with wheel stops and magnifiers
Shutter: Ilex shutter; speeds - 1/5, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, B
Movements: None
Dimensions (w x h x l): 10 x 18 x 23 cm (approx.)
Date of this Example: c1900?
Serial Number: None
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 606


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The Holborn-Ilex Hand Camera is a conventional pattern falling plate camera, in ¼-plate size, complete with case and instructions.

The camera is of wooden construction (mahogany) that is leather covered on the outside faces, but with a highly polished interior exposed when the front door is opened. It has a leather carrying handle, but with additional loops to take an additional carrying strap.

The shutter and internal mechanism of the plate changer are marked "patent" and are understood to relate to patents held by A.C. Jackson. These cameras were marketed by a number of companies including Fallowfield (as the Improved Rapid - see Early Photography web site for an excellent example) and Benetfink as the Lightening. The format, lenses and shutter varied over subsequent years.

The rear door opens to load the plates, but a door beneath the camera can be opened to withdraw exposed plates.

The lens is fitted with two wheels, one for the aperture and the other with magnifiers for close up work (3, 6 & 9 feet).

Thumbnail of Holborn Ilex Instruction Booklet
Thumbnail of Holborn Ilex Instruction Booklet

The instructions apply to the No 000, 00, 1 & 2 variants, but subsequent descriptions indicate that this must be the No 00. The No 000 had rising & cross front, while both No 1 & 2 were fitted with isochromatic screen for working with colour subjects.

Click on the thumbnail image to open an extract from the instruction booklet (pdf) in this window. Hit the back button to return to this page.

This example of the Holborn-Ilex Hand Camera is in very good condition, although the leather covering is scuffed through use. It retains its 12 plate sheaths.


The Holborn-Ilex series of falling plate cameras had a significant number of variations and revisions over its production period. McKeown [1] provides a good listing of many of the numbered variants, but there were variations in individual models over the production period. The description and photo of the No 00 model for example does not match the camera shown here in all details.