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Vintage Butcher's Watch Pocket Carbine No. 4 Folding Camera, 120 Format, C. 1920
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Description

Butcher's, established at Blackheath in 1866, was originally a manufacturer of magic lanterns but, with the arrival of practical cameras and the rise of photography as a hobby, added a film developing service in 1887. This proved successful and the company started importing cameras and photographic equipment from Germany, some of which was rebranded under their own trademark Primus; by 1902 the company's registered headquarters was Camera House on Farringdon Avenue in London and cameras had become the mainstay of the business.

There is some evidence that Butcher's had manufactured a few cameras of their own during the late 19th and early 20th Century, but this seems not to have lasted and they specialised in importing German models through to 1915 when, due to the outbreak of the First World War the previous year, it became impossible to continue; the company then merged with their former rival Houghton who had a factory in London. This was a friendly merger rather than a takeover, with both companies producing their own cameras at the facility and selling them side by side under their own respective brands up until 1926 when they registered the Houghton-Butcher Manufacturing Co. trademark, using that name on all their products for four years until 1930 when they adopted an entirely new name and became Ensign, a name previously used for some of Houghton's cameras and films.

This model, a folding Watch Pocket Carbine No. 4, bears the name Butcher's alone (though a sticker inside does recommend Houghton's Ensign film) and is marked as made in England; we can therefore be sure that it was made at some point between 1915 and 1926. It appears to be based largely on the Ica Icarette Model 1, which Ica had made as an export version for Butcher's (and which later became the Zeiss Ikon Icarette 493 when Zeiss took over Ica) but has been redesigned to fit the 120 format instead of the 117 film used by the Icarette - good news if you want to use this camera because 120, introduced in 1901, is still being made to this day whereas 117 hasn't been made since 1949. Though it was clearly built to be affordable, it's a remarkably well-designed camera with numerous nice touches - close tolerances and a good solid feel, smooth rollers to transport the film, reels in removable caddies, leather coating, smooth steel rails and a dinky little shutter release cable to avoid shake when using long exposures (the cable is still in its little holder inside the camera; the cloth covering is a bit frayed but it still works perfectly).

One unusual feature is that the lens doesn't slide out when the front of the camera is opened, as happens with most folding cameras; instead, there are two knurled steel knobs below the lens so that it can be pulled out to engage with the rails; a ratchet then fits into one of three slots machined into the side of the distance scale allowing easy focus at infinity, 15 feet and 7 feet (5 and 2 metres - imperial and metric are given on the scale). To fold the camera, the edge of the scale is pressed down to free up the ratchet and allow the lens to slide back into the body, with the viewfinder neatly folding up out of the way. In addition to the distance focus, the camera offers three shutter speeds (1/25, 1/50, 1/100) plus timed and bulb and aperture stops of f/7.7, 11, 16, 23, 32 and 45. The focal length is marked as 4.5 inches, which in modern terms is about 120mm.

The camera has some cosmetic damage, most notably the loss of some leather from the front and a little paint from the inside while the catch on the front (which also served to keep the camera horizontal when stood on a tabletop) has gone missing. However, considering it's at least 96 years old it's in remarkably good condition overall: the lens extends and retracts smoothly with the viewfinder folding correctly, the shutter and aperture controls operate correctly and the back still fits tightly into place while the bellows are free of damage - we don't have any 120 film to carry out a full test, but we can see no evidence of light leakage. There is a very small amount of dust within the barrel but no fungal growth; the glass is clean and free of scratches. All in all, it's an especially nice little camera which ought to be fully usable just as it is; it would also make a fine addition to any vintage camera collection in its current state or after a full restoration. A brown leather case with shoulder strap is included but, as it's a little large for the camera, this is unlikely to be original.

Finally, of course, the strange name. "Watch pocket" clearly refers to the size, which is much smaller than almost any other camera of its era and comparable to that of compact cameras from 60 years later. "Carbine", a name used by several other camera manufacturers, presumably also refers to the size - a carbine is a short-barrelled, lightweight rifle.

Specs and Details
• Made By: W. Butcher and Sons Ltd.
• Model: Watch Pocket Carbine No. 4
• Serial: C14651
• Type: Compact folding
• Format: 120
• Date: 1915-1926
• Made In: England
• Lens: Aldis Uno Anastigmat f7.7 4.75 Inch (eg. 120mm approx)
• Shutter: Wollensak USA Deltax No. 0
• Shutter Speeds: 1/25, 1/50, 1.100, B, T
• Aperture: f/7.7, 11, 16, 23, 32, 45
• Features: Tripod mounts on front door and bottom, distance scale, cable release, leather case (likely unoriginal)

Due to the nature of this item it is not always possible for us to identify any missing parts.
For this reason we ask that you please check the pictures carefully, as these show everything that is included.

This item has been very kindly donated to the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity.

Arthur Rank Hospice Charity supports people in Cambridgeshire living with an advanced serious illness or other life-limiting condition and those who need end-of-life care. Our ‘Outstanding’ services are provided free of charge to patients and their families. Our aim is to provide the highest quality care, helping them to make every moment count.

100% of the money raised from this sale will go to the charity.

Our sales team do their best to check each item and ensure that the description and pictures provided are as accurate as possible.

Feedback is extremely important to the charity so if you are not fully satisfied with your purchase please give us a chance to resolve any issues by contacting us prior to leaving feedback.

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If this item is not quite what you were looking for but you would still like to help our cause, please consider providing us with a donation which can be done via our eBay Charity Profile linked below.

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If when you receive your order you are not completely satisfied, you may return the items to us within 30 days for a refund. Returns will be processed within three working days once the goods have been received by us.

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We try very hard to ensure that you receive your order in pristine condition. In the unlikely event that your order arrives damaged or faulty, please contact us via eBay immediately, this will be given special priority and you can expect to receive a response within 48 hours, Monday to Friday. Arthur Rank Hospice Charity will cover the cost of domestic return postage for any incorrect or damaged items, subject to the cost of the chosen return method being reasonable. Please contact us before proceeding if unsure.

About Arthur Rank Hospice Charity

Arthur Rank Hospice Charity supports people in Cambridgeshire living with an advanced serious illness or other life-limiting condition and those who need end-of-life care. Its ‘Outstanding’ services are provided free of charge to patients and their families. The aim is to provide the highest quality care, helping them to make every moment count.

Around 4,000 patients are cared for each year at the Hospice in Cambridge, the Alan Hudson Day Treatment Centre in Wisbech and in patients’ own homes via the Arthur Rank Community Team. This care supports people to improve their quality of life and fulfil their end of their life choices.

Alongside the care provided by the Inpatient Unit, Living Well services and Hospice at Home teams, patients can access: patient and family support; lymphoedema care; complementary therapy; medical and pain outpatient clinics; and advice from the clinical nurse specialists within the Specialist Palliative Care Home Team. Programmes are practical, holistic and tailored to the individual patient, family member or carer and may also include rehabilitative support, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and psychological support.

It will cost £10.5 million in 2021/2022 to run services, which are provided free of charge to patients and their loved ones. Contracted services from the NHS are budgeted at £6.98 million, meaning that £3.52 million needs to be raised through donations, fundraising activities and trading. The Charity is extremely grateful to the local community for the continual dedication, commitment and generosity they show in supporting towards meeting this target.