F. and S. Marriott 140 Newbegin, Hornsea, England, HU18 1PB

May 2010. Stephanie died peacefully on 19th April after a short stay in hospital. She had been suffering from acute cervical cancer. Fred will continue to run the business to the best of his ability. The web site is slowly getting under control again as he tries to take over some of Stephanie's responsibilities, and learns some of the mysteries of Dreamweaver.

Golden Years - 1947

This piece is taken from Classic Camera Magazine number 25, and is provided to try to demonstrate the style of the magazine. Note that the magazine article is illustrated, but in order to keep download times to a minimum, I have omitted the illustrations from this version.

Other years which have been covered in this way are 1954 (issue number 8) and 1965 (issue number 15).

All back issues of Classic Camera Magazine are available; see the main Classic Camera Magazine page for details.


It is hard to imagine, unless you were there, the shortages and the restrictions catalogued in magazines and leaflets from 1947. There is a practical slant to the magazines which is now gone, probably for ever. With articles on converting the Box Tengor to use 35 mm. film, converting a 120 mm. Goerz Pantar for use on a Leica, and on making anything from a safelight to a horizontal adaptor for the Rolleiflex, the magazines ensured that the enthusiastic photographer need never be short of things to do, despite the film shortages.

From the advertisements, 35 mm. film was fairly readily available, but roll film was more restricted. Wallace Heaton offered a pamphlet on how to use 35 mm. film in your rollfilm camera. By the end of the year, Gevaert had announced the return of their 35 mm. film, in limited quantities, and Westminster Photographic had announced that there would soon be a limited supply of film for the Compass camera.

Equipment was also in short supply; domestic production was geared to export and imports were severely restricted.

There was little money to spare on research and development, especially in Britain. A Miniature Camera Magazine editorial castigates the British industry for the lack of innovation, pointing out that the only new cameras of any note were both copies of pre-war German cameras; the Reid is a Leica IIIb copy and the Agiflex is a Reflex Korelle copy.

These cameras were on display at the British Industries Fair, held at Olympia in May.

The Agiflex is a 12-on-120 metal camera with a roller-blind shutter speeded to 1500 sec., and linked to the wind-on. The lens is an 80 mm. f/3.5 Agilux with bayonet mount. The waist-level finder incorporates an optical eye-level finder. The camera is finished with a black leather covering and cost £51 14s. 2d.

The Reid 35 mm. camera, while boasting some improvements on the original Leica, also made full use of German patents. It was felt that this provision, giving access to German patents through the impressively-named Custodian of Enemy Patents, was limiting the willingness of German firms to innovate. The Reid has a twin-sighted coupled rangefinder and viewfinder, focal-plane shutter with speeds from 1 sec. to 11,000 sec., and inter-changeable lenses. It was supplied with a Taylor-Hobson f/2 lens and the price was expected to be about £80. It was claimed that the camera could be used with all Leica accessories, but a later article stated that the new Leica IIIc had a longer body than the old cameras, thus restricting the use of some accessories. The Reid, therefore, may not have full compatibility.

Other exhibitors at the British Industries Fair included Ensign (who showed their Selfix, Commando, and Autorange cameras), and several lens makers. Ross showed a new range of lenses, including the Resolux, and the Xtralux for cameras (including the Reid), and Taylor-Hobson also displayed a lens for the Reid. Dallmeyer and Wray were there with their lenses, Pullin showed a new enlarging lens with coating on all surfaces and click stops, and G.B. Montgomery were showing a Ross lens in Contax-coupled mount.

Kershaw exhibited a prototype of a line of cameras called the Curlew, taking 214 -in. ¥ 314-in. pictures. Three models were planned: the Curlew I with f/6.3 lens and three-speed shutter, the Curlew II with f/4.5 lens and five-speed shutter and the Curlew III with Taylor-Hobson f/3.5 lens and Taylor-Hobson nine-speed flash synchronised shutter. Some sources claim that this was the first British-made range of cameras to feature coated lenses. Illustrated but not shown was the Peregrine, for 214-in.- square pictures, also in three models, the best of which was expected to have a coupled rangefinder, a Talkyron nine-speed shutter and Taylor-Hobson f/2.9 lens; this model was promised for May 1948.

Research in America bore fruit in February 1947, with a demonstration to the Optical Society of America on February 21st by Mr Edwin H. Land, the inventor and president of the Polaroid Corporation. His camera produces a finished picture in 50 seconds. One account of this event is very cautious, even sceptical, indicating that but for the involvement of Mr. Land, a "reputable scientist", would be considered a stunt. There is a slight note of incredulity when reporting that the process results in only one copy of the picture, and no negative, but the report then goes on to point out that tin-type photographers have been doing this sort of thing for a "couple of generations" and finally that, before the war, Mr John Logie Baird demonstrated a cinematograph camera, "the exposed film from which passed straight into a processing machine, came out the other side and was televised frame by frame, so as to produce a cinema film on the screen of the television receiver. The interval between the moment of exposure and the moment of televising the particular frame was only thirty-five seconds".

Although, for some of us, that demonstration of Polaroid film would be the highlight of the year, for contemporary photographers the highlight was probably the 18th Photographic Exhibition in Paris with over 125 exhibitors from France, Britain, Switzerland, America, Italy and even Germany, although doubtless their enjoyment was tempered by the knowledge that many of the products shown would not be available in Britain.

France, the home country, had a strong showing with Jousset-I.P.O. showing Compur S-type shutters with a top speed of 1350 sec., and forthcoming models expected to have a built-in synchro-flash device along the lines of the American Ilex shutter. The 35 mm. Richards Verascope stereoscopic camera which also permits single pictures was shown, with the preliminaries of a projector, intended for stereo projection using Polaroid filters. Richards was also experimenting with designs for a 120 roll film reflex camera.

Another Leica copy, the Pontiac Super Lynx I, was on display; this simplified version had no slow speeds or coupled rangefinder. Pontiac also showed their improved 127 roll film Lynx models, including the Model III, which will have coated interchangeable lenses and a focal plane shutter with speeds from 125 sec. to 1500 sec. The Lynx III was reserved for export as was most of the production of the interestingly named 8-on-120 camera, the Bloc-Metal, with Prontor II shutter (with delayed action, and speeds to 1150 sec.), direct-vision optical finder and Angenieux or Berthiot lenses.

The Societe O.P.L. showed the Foca-IIbis, a coupled rangefinder camera with shutter speeds to 11000 sec., but no slow speeds.

The 6 cm. x 9 cm. frame size was probably the most popular in France at this time. The P.M.P. company produced the Kinax cameras: the Kinax I was shown as a prototype, expected to sell for about £7, with an f/4.5 Kinn lens and four-speed IPO shutter with T and B settings. The Kinax II had been available in France for about a year. It had an f/4.5 Flor-Berthiot lens (Tessar-type), IPO shutter with speeds 110 sec. to 1150 sec. and B and an optical viewfinder with parallax correction. "This year's very latest creation" was the Kinax-Special, with French-made IPO Compur-type shutter with speeds from 1 sec. to 1350 sec. with B and delayed action. This camera appears to have been distributed in Britain by Actina as the Kinax II, with f/4.5 lens made by Kinn of Paris.

The P.A.C. Drepy camera was made in two sizes, for 8 or 16 on 120. Each model had a Pierrat lens and a P.A.C. shutter with speeds from 1 sec. to 1250 sec. and delayed action.

M. Laroche were the only manufacturers who used the 65 mm. x 65 mm. frame size. Their new camera, due to appear some time in 1947, was expected to have reflex focusing, coated interchangeable lenses and a focal-plane shutter with flash synchronisation.

Not surprisingly, the Americans also made use of German patents, producing the Kardon (a Leica copy) and the Reflex-Kodak, a camera described as "along the lines of the Rolleiflex", fitted with an 85 mm. lens. Neither of these were available in Great Britain at the time. The Kardon, which sold in America for the dollar equivalet of about £80, was designed by the Premier Instrument Company for the U.S. Signal Corps. Based on the Leica IIIa, and apparantly accepting Leica accessories, it has a satin chrome finish, coupled rangefinder, and non-collapsible lens mount. The lens fitted was a 47 mm. f/2 Kodak Ektar.

The Swiss Alpa-Reflex has both rangefinder and reflex focusing, with a focal plane shutter, and is supplied with French lenses (Berthiot, Angenieux).

The Italian camera industry was represented by a miniature camera taking 18 mm. x 24 mm. pictures on 35 mm. film. The Ducati has interchangeable lenses, coupled coincident-image rangefinder and focal-plane shutter with speeds up to 1/500 sec. Alternative lenses include a 26 mm. wide angle, f/2.8 35 mm. standard, 60 mm., 80 mm. and 120 mm. long-focus, and a universal viewfinder which includes parallax correction. The Ducati takes 35 mm. film, loaded into special cassettes to give 16 pictures. With the f/3.5 Ducati Vitor lens, in France it was expected that the camera would sell for about £25. A test report on the Ducati, which was not available for sale in this country, estimated that it would probably sell for around £60 to £70 here.

Leica was not left out; under the post-war arrangements, all Leica production was exported to earn dollars. These were retained by the occupying forces, and Leitz was paid in Reischmarks. The system operated in reverse for imported raw materials, which were kept to a minimum. The Leica exhibited was the IIIc, which was still in production. Import restrictions meant that many items were either not made at all or were severely restricted; the Leica IIId was one of the restricted items. There was also a problem with "self-assembly" cameras, made by Leitz workers at home from stolen components. Unfortunately, these cameras were not subjected to the Leitz tests and there were fears that the Leitz reputation would be compromised by these cameras.

Paillard Bolex, presumably less badly affected by six years of war, made a strong showing at the exhibition with the L.8, H.8, H.9, and H.16 cameras and the G series of projectors. Unfortunately, supply restrictions meant that these cameras were only available with official permission and, even then, a twelve-month delay was likely.

Emel was described as the only French firm dealing in 8 mm. cameras and projectors. They offered five different cameras with turret head, variable speeds, rewind motion and single-frame.

Ercsam made the new 9.5 mm. Camex, with interchangeable lenses, viewfinder with masks for wide-angle and tele lenses, and a variable speed motor with speeds up to 48 f.p.s. It uses a special two-chamber cassette.

Pathe presented the Webo M for 9.5 mm. or 16 mm. This has a turret head, variable speeds up to 64 f.p.s., single frame and backwind. The reviewer commented "All these devices are very interesting but the French dealers recieve about one camera per year".

Electronic flash was also shown although it was still something of a novelty. The French-made "Eclatron" weighs about 7 kg.

Meters were described as "still scarce", but the new Weston Master II was exhibited. In addition, although apparantly not exhibited, the Master I meter was to be made in Britain, under licence from the U.S.A. This meter, with high and low scales, was expected to sell for £8 17s. 6d.; however, by October the message was still "supplies will be available shortly". A leather case cost an extra £1 5s.

Also made in Britain under an arrangement with the U.S. was the Bell & Howell-Gaumont Model 601 16 mm. projector, the first new product from the link up between Bell & Howell and the British G.B. organisation. Based on the latest American design, the specification is similar to the Filmosound Model 179. It was made in Britain under the supervision of American technicians from Bell & Howell in Chicago. It was a well-specified machine with constant tension take-up, flutterless sound reproduction, sound or silent speeds, threading light and tone control. It uses a 750 w. 110 v. lamp, and cost £225, with the transformer £12 10s. extra.

Another Anglo-American arrangment allowed the manufacture of Ampro 16 mm. projectors by Messrs. Kelvin, Bottomley and Baird. By the end of the year, production of the first two models was described as being "under way". The Ampro Imperial is a silent machine, although the claw arrangement permits the projection of sound films. It takes a 750 w. 100 v. lamp and is constructed using aluminium castings with chromium plated and stainless steel fittings. The machine allows still picture, reverse, high speed powered rewind, and was normally supplied with a 2-inch f/1.6 coated lens and carrying case for £85. A transformer for use with 200/250 volts was £9 10s. extra.

The Amprosound Premier-20 sound and silent machine is a long-base design with 2000-ft. spool capacity. It takes a 110 v. 750 w. pre-focus lamp, although a 110 v. 1000 w. lamp could be used on sound speed only. It has a 2-inch f/1.6 coated lens (interchangeable), reverse, still picture, pilot lamp, and was supplied with two carrying cases, fitted for accessories and including 50 ft. speaker cable for £190. A transformer for 200/250 volts was £13 extra.

Other cine projectors which were introduced around 1947 are the Kodascope Eight-45 and the Pathescope Gem. The Kodascope machine, for 8 mm. films, has a cast baseplate and pivoting body giving easily adjusted tilting. It was supplied with film splicing outfit, cleaning brush, spare belt, 50 ft. and 100 ft. reels, a bottle of Kodascope oil and an instruction book, all in a fitted case for £30.

The Pathescope Gem has an elegant design and weighs only 6.4 kg. It can accommodate up to 900-ft. spools and has powered rewind. It takes a 12 v. 100 w. lamp, and, with an f/2 32 mm. lens cost about £33. Two other models were available, for 8 mm. and 16 mm. respectively.

A new cine camera for 1947 was the Dekko; advertisements started early in the year promising supplies in the summer, although it was nearly Christmas before supplies were available, and then only in limited quantities. The Dekko has a diecast case with plated fittings. The clockwork motor runs up to 20 feet of film at one winding and offers 8, 16, 24 and 32 f.p.s. There are hinged viewfinder masks for 1-inch and 112-inch lenses; the camera was supplied with a Dallmeyer 13 mm. f/1.9 lens but an alternative fixed focus f/2.5 lens was expected to be available in early 1948. The camera door carries an exposure calculator and the rear of the body carries a depth-of-field table. The camera cost £49 0s. 6d.

Another new camera, this time American, was the Perfex Magazine Double 8, a magazine loading 8 mm. cine camera. It has a five speed clockwork drive and three lens turret with built-in viewfinder convertors for different focal length lenses. Sold in America with three lenses (12-inch f/2.5, 1-inch f/2.5 and 112 inch f/2.5), the camera cost the dollar equivalent of around £60.

America was also providing the most interesting advances in stereo photography, with the new one-piece Viewmaster viewer; earlier models hinged open for loading and apparantly required some dexterity to load. Also American was the Stereo Tach attachment for taking stereo pairs with 35 mm. cameras, marketed by Advertising Displays Inc. The Stereo Realist was described as the first American precision built stereoscopic camera. This is a 35 mm. die cast aluminium camera with satin chrome finish and a hinged plastic cover which protects the Cooke 35 mm. f/3.5 coated lenses and covers the two viewfinders. Focussing is effected using a milled wheel and there is a red signal on the top plate to indicate that the film should be advanced. The behind-lens shutter offers speeds from 1 sec. to 1/150 sec., with T and B. The coupled rangefinder and separate viewfinder are at the bottom, allowing the body of the camera to be steadied against the forehead. The camera takes pairs of pictures, each one 23 mm. x 24 mm., the pairs of pictures alternating on the film, giving 28 pairs on a 36-exposure cassette. A mounting jig was available, but in the U.S. an arrangement had been made for mounting pictures after processing. The camera cost approximately £41 in the U.S.; the illuminated viewer with focusing adjustment cost an additional £5.

Coronet used Bakelite to good effect to produce the Cub and the Cameo. The Cub has a fixed focus lens, instantaneous shutter, collapsible lens mount and folding eye-level viewfinder. The moulded bakelite body has satin chrome-finish on the metal fittings. It takes 40 mm. x 27 mm. pictures on 828 film and cost £3 3s. The Cameo is a miniature camera, measuring 50 mm.x 25 mm. x 32 mm. with a fixed focus f/11 lens, 125 sec. shutter speed, moulded bakelite body, and frame finder slides into the camera body. It cost 17s. 10d.

Some cameras which were available in 1947 were pre-war designs; the Purma Special is a good example. It has a Beck f/6.3 lens, focal plane shutter with speeds 125, 1150 and 1450 sec. obtained by holding the camera in a certain way. It takes 16 pictures on 127 film, which was also in short supply. The price was £6 7s. 9d. and the would-be purchaser was assured that the camera "has been in short supply, but the situation is improving".

Ensign had also been selling their pre-war cameras, but they added a new one to the line-up, the Ranger. This takes eight pictures on 120 film. It has an f/6.3 Ensar lens and an Ensign Trikon shutter, giving speeds 125, 150 and 1100 sec., B and T. The metal body has a black crystalline finish. It was cheaper than the Ensign Commando, which was a high quality camera developed for military use during the war, taking 12 or 16 on pictures 120 film, with high-quality f/3.5 Ensign lens, Ensign eight speed Epsilon shutter and coupled rangefinder, which cost £50 8s. 8d. including purchase tax. The Ensign Selfix has an f/4.5 Ensign lens and takes 8 or 12 exposures on 120 film. It was available in two versions, one fitted with a four-speed Epsilon shutter and the other fitted with an eight-speed Epsilon shutter with delayed action. Both versions have speeds to 1/150 sec. The four-speed model cost £16 2s. 6d. while the eight-speed was £17 5s. 6d.

There was also a lot of second-hand equipment in the shops, although there was strict control over second-hand prices; one post-war window shopper I have spoken to can recall seeing all manner of treasures. Among his memories from these times are a Thornton Pickard Ruby Special Reflex with Series 9 Cooke f/2.9 6-inch lens at £14 10s., two Sanderson cameras, one with a Cooke f/4.5 Aviar lens and one with 8-inch Dallmeyer Serac, a Sinclair Una with Goerz Dagor f/6.8 lens, a Newman & Guardia folding reflex camera with lazy tongs, a Goerz Anschutz press camera and all sorts of Thornton Pickard and Watson cameras, from quarter plate upwards.

The close of 1947 saw some easing in the film situation, and things could only get better, but it must have been very frustrating, two years after the end of the war, to find the shortages continuing. In some ways, 1947 is not a Golden Year; innovation was curtailed, supplies of practically everything photographic were difficult to obtain and the only really bright spots I have found are the first demonstration of Polaroid and the thought of that second-hand shop.

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http://www.marriottworld.com/ccm articles/1947.htm (C) F. and S. Marriott