Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Tailboard Camera

George Houghton & Son

Name: Unnamed Tailboard Camera
Type: Tailboard Camera
Manufacturer: George Houghton & Son
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Construction: Standard tailboard construction of mahogany with brass fittings, as commonly used in the period.
Production Period: Unknown


Plate / Film Size: Full plate (8½" x 6½")
Lens: None
Shutter: None
Movements: Rising front; lens panel slides across width of camera for stereo use (see description below).
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example: c1890
Serial Number: None
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 556

<Photographs to be added>


This Tailboard Camera by George Houghton & Son is of traditional construction with the tear frame clamped down by through screws to the rails on the baseboard. Small fixed side wings to support the front panel. Carries a label on the front below the lens panel for "G. Houghton & Son / 89 / High Holborn / London".

This camera has a sliding lens panel that would allow the camera to be used for stereo work. However it has no septum and no evidence to suggest that one could be fitted. It is assumed therefore that that for stereo use it must have adopted the alternate tactic of having a blanking plate that would cover half the plate for one shot and use the shutter on the DDS to blank off the other half for the second shot. But I have no evidence for that either as the DDS is also missing.

The camera has suffered several injuries through heavy use over the years. In particular it is missing a strip of mahogany on the frame around the (missing) ground glass, without which the back section is rather weak and vulnerable. Sadly the strip of wood is long gone, along with the original lens and mounting ring. The camera has a number of dings, scratches and bangs, although rather surprisingly the original bellows remain in very good order.

The camera is very similar to the example on the late Eric Evan's excellent web site of British wood and brass cameras (last accessed March 2020) - but without the benefit of the shutter / lens assembly that his example possesses.


The date is a best guess. According to the article on the Houghton-Butcher family tree by Michael Pritchard (PCCGB article in Photographica World, Issue 32), the company name changed to George Houghton & Sons (plural) in 1892. Another indication that it is a fairly early model is that the pinion on the focussing rack is straight rather than spiral form.