Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Special Instantograph Camera

J. Lancaster & Son

Name: Special Instantograph
Manufacturer: J. Lancaster & Son
Country of Origin: United Kingdom (Birmingham)
Construction: Tailboard design with brass binding over corner joints.
Production Period: Unknown

While many of the Lancaster cameras you will encounter bear some variation of the Instantograph name, this tailboard design is a little less common and quite different in form.

Comparison of this camera with the more common Instantograph hand & stand camera will make it obvious how different in format this camera is from the 'norm'.

Plate / Film Size: ¼ plate
Lens: Lens is inscribed with J Lancaster & Sons, has iris control by ring on lens
Shutter: None.
Movements: Rising front, cross front, tilting back
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example: c1895?
Serial Number: None
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 301

Image of Lancaster Special Instantograph Tailboard Camera

(Image © Amateur Photographer 2010, taken for an article by Ivor Matanle and reproduced with kind permission)


The name is carried on an insert on top of camera "The Special Instantograph PATENT". Manufacturer identified on label carried on front face "J. Lancaster & Son BIRMINGHAM".

1899 Lancaster Camera Advert
1899 Lancaster Camera Advert

The Special Instantograph is a beautiful mahogany field camera with a brass bound body.

This camera seems to be very similar to that pictured in the 1899 advert shown on the left and described there as Lancaster's Brass Bound "Special Instantograph", which is shown with a see-saw shutter.

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The front standard is fixed to the inner frame on the baseboard. The rack and pinion focusing moves the inner frame. The rear standard slides along the bed.

It has black pleated square section tapered bellows (in very good condition, with only a few points of wear).


This particular camera has been fitted on two faces with a fixing for an ancillary viewfinder. It is also fitted with a Thornton Pickard pendulum level.