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


ClicPic Photos copyright © 2014 David Purcell. Do not use without permission.
Click small picture to enlarge.   ClicPic Gallery Software.


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 my example has 12 plateholders - refer to notes). 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.


While there can be no real doubt about the identifiaction of this camera, given that it carries a clear label on the back as shown in the group of photos, nonetheless there are some anomolies when compared to a contempory advert for the camera.

Advert fo Vive No 4 Camera
Advert fo Vive No 4 Camera

The advert for the camera is taken from an American magazine dated 1897. Click on the thumbnail to open a larger version.

This shows the camera but the layout is not the same as the example shown on this page. The advert shows the focusing knob on the same side as the viewfinder whereas on my example they are on opposite sides of the camera body. The controls on the front face also differ from my example. The advert also states that the camera can take 18 plateholders while my example seems to be at full capacity with the 12 plateholders it came with.

It is possible that the advert shows an early line drawing and description that were established before the camera went into production. This needs further investigation and I will update this page as and when I come across further information.