Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Challenge Magazine Camera

J. Lizars

Name: Challenge Magazine Camera
Manufacturer: J. Lizars
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Construction: Leather covered wooden frame with internal bellows.
Production Period: 1898 - ?


Plate / Film Size: ¼ plate in 12 sheaths
Lens: Unknown, aperture settings of 10, 16, 22 & 32
Shutter: Built-in simple T & I (variable speed)
Movements: None
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example: c1898
Serial Number: "2" stamped onto inner edge of wooden support attached to inside of back, although this is likely to be an assembly or batch number.
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 519

<Photographs to be added>


The Lizars Challenge Magazine Camera is a conventional falling plate magazine camera of simple construction, but bearing the Lizars Challenge roundel on the top face beneath the strap. This example is a basic non-focussing model, of early form.

Lizars Camera Advert (1898)
Lizars Camera Advert (1898)

This format camera is shown in the Photographic News for June 17 1898, although the shutter selection dial is shown on the opposite side. An earlier advert for 18 March in the same year has a slightly different format.

Click on the thumbnail at left to open a larger version.

The lens is unmarked on this example, although the advert indicates a number of different options (RR, TT & H) at vastly different prices. I suspect this is the basic model, although it could be an unmarked RR lens.

10 of the original 12 sheaths remain, which the adverts state could take both plate and film. The back incorporates an ingenious counter; a semi circular sprung brass ring with number engraved, one end of which rests on the back of the magazine pile and rotates to display a new number of sheaths remaining through a hole in the back as each drops into the bottom of the camera.

The camera came with a separate portrait attachment in a plastic box, marked "John F Griffin & Sons Ltd., Planiscope". This is a portrait lens with spring attachment that would fit over an existing fixed lens.


There are a vast number of different magazine cameras available to collectors, many of which are unmarked. A great many were sourced in Europe, notably from Germany or France. ¼ plate is by far the most common size but they do exist in other smaller and larger sizes too. I was pleased to find an example bearing a makers mark and name.