W. Butcher & Sons Carbine, made in England. Up to the advent of the First World War, Butchers
imported German made cameras but this arrangement became somewhat inconvenient
thereafter, and they teamed up with Houghtons as manufacturer to form
The Houghton-Butcher Manufacturing Co. Ltd, formally merging in 1926. By
1930 they sold cameras under the Ensign name. There is frequently no mention
of Butcher on the pre Houghton-Butcher arrangement cameras.
This camera proudly displays the badge "Butchers famous Carbine,
British Made". So clearly was made after the beginning of hostilities,
and in fact this particular camera is known to have been taken to France during the
war itself, alas no photographs survive. The camera's constructing closely mimics the Folding Pocket Kodaks of the era being wood, machine routed and glued to form the main shell. The ends are rolled aluminium sheet and the removable rear hatch is pressed aluminium sheet and features plate carrier rails. The front hatch and lens bed is a thick piece of sheet aluminium with nickel plated brass rails for the lens standard to be run out along. The lens standard is cast aluminium and the the lensboard runs inside machined channels to allow for rise and fall movements, cross movement is also catered for. Rise and fall is achieved with a neat rotary lever, whilst a good push with a thumb will break out the standard from the detent to allow it to slide. The means of composing the image was either from the waist level finder or inserted ground glass screen is using plates. The only means of focus when using roll film would have been to use the focus scale on the lens bed, but considerable flex is apparent in the lens standard making critical focus a bit hit and miss. Being unable to use German parts meant
that the American Wollensak Lukos II shutter was used mounting a Beck
Symmetrical lens. The Lukos is a pneumatically governed shutter, though
you wouldn't guess it from its external appearance as the piston is miniscule
and buried within the case. The camera has provision for both plates and
roll film, and the focus scale can be quickly shifted backwards to accommodate
the different focal plane when using the plate back.
The negative size, when contact printed with a white border would
have produced a then standard postcard sized print of 3.25 x 5.25 inches using 122 roll film.
This Carbine was donated in March 2009 in appropriately worn condition,
by Mr. J Hallum. In view of its past, restoration was rejected, instead
a deep clean and critical repairs only were undertaken.
The bellows were quite rotten at the rear pleats, so a new section was
inserted and a total of four small patches over pinholes. All the original
paint and scratches have been retained.