Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Optimus Camera De Poche Camera

Perken Son & Rayment

Name: Optimus Camera De Poche
Type: Hand & Stand Camera
Manufacturer: Perken Son & Rayment
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Construction: Unusual hand & stand camera of cubic form, with an extending front rather than a folding baseboard. It is of wooden construction and leather covered.
Production Period: Unknown


Plate / Film Size: ¼ plate
Lens: Rapid Euryscope f6 (adjustable to f44)
Shutter: Integrated (but unmarked) roller blind shutter behind lens, 1/15 to 1/90th sec.
Movements: Swing back
Dimensions (w x h x l): 4¾ x 3¾ x 5½ inches
Date of this Example: c1898
Serial Number: Serial number 6184 stamped into underside of extending base
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [x]
Inventory Number: 509

<Photographs to be added>


The Optimus Camera De Poche is an unusual hand & stand camera of cubic form, but with extending front and no baseboard. The maker is only identified on the lens cap - an original red leather felt lined cap with the maker's name & "OPTIMUS" in gold. The lens is also marked with Perken Son & Rayment, Hatton Garden.

The identification as an Optimus Camera De Poche is based upon an advert in "Beginners Guide to Photography", published by Perken Son & Rayment. This book carries an 80 page advertising supplement for Perken Son & Rayment; it is undated but carries an advert for the 1899 Year Book of Photography, which is described as being "now ready", so it is likely to date to either late 1898 or early 1899.

The year of manufacture is set on the basis of this advert / article. This example differs in small ways to the picture shown in the advert, most noticeably in that the picture shows a fold down cover hinged on the top edge, which is absent in this example (and does not appear to be missing - rather the design is slightly different). The advert in the Beginners Guide to Photography includes an extract from the 1898 Year Book of Photography, which reads as follows:

"This Model has been greatly improved this Season. It now possesses a swing back arrangement which operates in both the horizontal and vertical positions. The focal adjustment is by RACK AND PINION movement, so that exact definition may be obtained. A divided scale at the side is provided for use when making SNAP SHOTS and holding the Camera in the hand.

The Lens is an " OPTIMUS " Extra Rapid Euryscope (F.6, mounted in aluminium, and fitted with an Iris Diaphragm. The Shutter is of the Roller Blind Form, giving various speeds of exposure. An attractive feature in this instrument is its small size, the outside dimensions being 3¾ X 4¾ x 5½ inches. It can be arranged to take Eastman's New Cartridge Roll Holder. The price is EXTREMELY MODERATE."

The lens & mount are in aluminium. The lens has an iris diaphragm. The roller blind shutter is unmarked but appears to be a Thornton-Pickard. The rollerblind appears to be intact and the shutter is operational.

The rack & pinion focussing is showing wear in that the camera front no longer racks out smoothly and needs some help to expand to full extension. This reveals a focus scale on the left hand side, marked 10 / 20 / 50 FT. The camera has horizontal / vertical swing back, whose design & fittings are very similar to the early Watson Alpha. The cubic structure of the main body is also very reminiscent of the Alpha. (Note that the original screw adjustment for the lh side of the swing back is a replacement).

The camera came with the ground glass screen, but no DDS. It has its original handle and caries fittings for a separate auxiliary viewfinder and has two tripod mounts.