Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Vive No 4 Camera

Vive Camera Company

Name: Vive No 4
Type: Magazine Camera
Manufacturer: Vive Camera Co.
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Construction: Magazine plate camera of wooden construction, leather covered. Top face is hinged to allow access to the 12 plateholders stored within, but has a built in changing bag to allow the operator to swap the plates after an exposure. Alternatively it could be used with cut film holders. Two viewfinders for landscape and portrait use.
Production Period: Unknown


Plate / Film Size: 4 x 5 plates in special holders (or cut film - see text)
Lens: Unknown
Shutter: Simple single speed rotary shutter
Movements: None
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example: c1899
Serial Number: None
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 173


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The Vive No 4 is of simple box construction, but with a built-in dark sleeve for changing the plates inside the camera. McKeown [1] quotes the Vive No 1 as the first commercially successful camera to employ a dark-sleeve.

The Vive No 4 camera is complete with a set of 12 plateholders (original) for 4 x 5 plates with Vive instructions on a card held in each. They do not appear to be greatly used; one card has been cut to make a square aperture. The Vive cameras could also employ special holders for cut film; these being shallower allowed a far greater number to be held in the magazine.

According to an 1897 advert, the newly introduced Vive No 4 could be used to hold 18 plates or 50 cut films (but my construction notes above state 12 plateholders - need to check!). The camera cost $10 at that time.

The focusing mechanism on this example is prone to slip when the knob is turned on the outside of the camera, so it loses its registration against the markings around the knob. The internals appear complete and are in good order.

The shutter fires. The aperture is set with a simple arrangement of waterhouse stops.

There is inevitably some wear to the leather, with an area of about 15mm x 10mm missing on the top face. The leather is scuffed, especially around the knob that rotates the stops.