World's smallest folder?

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World's smallest folder?

Post by GrahamS » Fri Oct 04, 2019 7:30 am

Graham Serretta Patron Prolific Poster, jun 26, 2005; 08:00 a.m.

Gather 'round guys 'n gals. Lookee what I've got! We went visiting some dear friends yesterday, and I was presented with this little gem. What a marvelous gift. It is an Ensign "Ensignette" and is engraved "British Made" "Patent 28464 1907" and "Made by Houghtons Ltd London". Is it the worlds smallest folder? The dimensions are folded: 100 x 48 x 19mm and un-folded 100 x 48 x 83mm. The lens I presume is a miniscus, with a simple shutter with "I" and "T" (Instantaneous and Time) and there is a slider with three waterhouse stops - f11, f16 and f22. It has an optical reflex viewfinder for horizontal use only, and is finished in black paint on brass. Now the mystery. The back opens by removing the back cover completely. Inside is a take-up spool that measures 41mm between the inside edges of the flanges and is 17mm in diameter. The exposure frame size is 56 x 36mm and there is a red window in the centre of the back cover, so obviously the film was paper backed. Was this 828? In 1907? The mystery deepens because with the camera were ten glass plate negatives that measure 58 x 43mm, which are the dimensions of the back opening from edge to edge and they fit nicely in the back of the camera. Is this co-incidence, or could the camera have been used with glass plates with a plate-holder of some sort, which I do not have? I will try and scan the glass plates on my flat-bed N650U but I don't expect anything useable. If so, I will have to find someone with a darkroom or a better scanner. I wish they would fit in my 5400! I would be gratefull for any info anyone may have.
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Sandeha Lynch Patron Prolific Poster, jun 26, 2005; 08:11 a.m.
Jealous? No, no, not a bit of it. Why should I be jealous? What possible reason?
Try this ...

Peter Evans Prolific Poster, jun 26, 2005; 08:15 a.m.
Ah, those wily occidentals! This page will enlighten you.

Patric Dahlén , jun 26, 2005; 10:02 a.m.
Hmmm, I wonder why they made a special film for this camera, when it could have used ordinary 127-film instead.
To load the camera with a plate, the plate must fit and be loaded in a dark room. Maybe the film size was out of production, and the previous owner wanted to use the camera anyway?

Graham Serretta Patron Prolific Poster, jun 26, 2005; 10:10 a.m.
Thank you Sandeha & Peter - Scans of the glass plates are done - they could not have been made with this Ensignette, as most of the shots are taken uptight. The Ensignette viewfinder is horizontal only. Anyway, here they are, the best I can do.

Tito Carlos Maria Sobrinho Patron Prolific Poster, jun 26, 2005; 10:58 a.m.
The film for my Univex-Iris (1938) was manufactured (?) and sold by the Universal Camera Corp. My camera, follows the Art Deco design, made of cast iron with a retractable 50mm lens. It has also a green window on the center of the back cover. Film size? I think, it will be very difficult to find it these days.
Dan Fromm Prolific Poster, jun 26, 2005; 12:31 p.m.
Um, Graham, my little Graphics' viewfinders are on top. And their gates are horizontal. To take a vertical ("portrait") shot, I turn the camera on its side. Why is this impossible with an Ensignette?

richard oleson Prolific Poster, jun 26, 2005; 02:58 p.m.
That's one neat little camera!
Dan, the reason this would be difficult to use for verticals is that it has no eye-level finder. The only finder is the little reflex one, which is only on top. In a vertical you'd have a very tiny, inverted image to contend with and while not impossible, it's a very safe bet that nobody used it that way more than once.

As for being the smallest folder, the smallest I've encountered is the Univex AF, which measures 100 x 53 x 21 folded and 100 x 53 x 65 open -- close enough that I think you could call it a draw.

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Donald Qualls Prolific Poster, jun 26, 2005; 06:07 p.m.
I don't recall the camera name, but wasn't there a tiny folder made for 00 film? This was a paper-backed film that was essentially the size of 35 mm, but on a different spool from 828. Not to mention the Bantam, a strut folder which certainly used smaller films than the Ensignette (828 is 35 mm wide, 28x40 frame, 8 on a roll), though I don't recall the dimesnions of the original Bantam camera. Pretty small, though; smaller than anything ever made in 127.
Why didn't Houghton use 127? They didn't want their customers buying Kodak film, most likely (which didn't last long, since Kodak made the film as 128).

richard oleson Prolific Poster, jun 26, 2005; 08:05 p.m.
The Univex AFs used 00 film.

Martin Tai Hero Patron, jun 27, 2005; 06:39 a.m.
Smallest bellow camera perhaps, not smallest folder. The smallest folder is Minox 35
richard oleson Prolific Poster, jun 27, 2005; 09:17 a.m.
I think the Minox 35 is bigger than these, at least when folded. I have one at home, I'll check it next to the Univex. Dimensions I see listed for the Minox are 100 x 61 x 34mm..... The Univex only reaches 100mm in length because of its protruding finder frame at the top, and it's smaller than the Minox in both other dimensions. The Ensignette is even smaller than the Univex when folded.
Graham Serretta Patron Prolific Poster, jun 27, 2005; 05:33 p.m.
O.K.guys - so which camera took glass plates 58mm x 43mm?
richard oleson Prolific Poster, jun 27, 2005; 08:36 p.m.
Looking for an answer to that, I found in 'A Century of Cameras' (Eaton Lothrop, Eastman House) the statement that the Ensignette was the FIRST vest-pocket size camera to use roll film - which I guess would explain why it didn't use 127, which was apparetly introduced in April 1912.
The 4.5 x 6 cm format may have been a common one in glass plates, as it was later in film. The Ermanox used this size glass plate in the 1920s (this may be among the last), and the Gaumont "Block-Notes" used it in 1904. The "Vest Pocket" period apparently began about 1898 with the Vest Pocket Monroe, billed as "the most compact camera in the world".... but that took a slightly larger 2 x 2.5" plate. So you at least have a fairly well defined space of time to look at....


Graham Serretta Patron Prolific Poster, jun 28, 2005; 06:48 a.m.
Thank's for the info, Rick. I have a quest on my hands - I'll let you all know what I come up with.
Age brings wisdom....or age shows up alone. You never know.

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Re: World's smallest folder?

Post by titrisol » Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:24 pm

Blast from the past!!!
haven;t heard from Donald in a while!
If you can't fix it with a hammer... you got an electrical problem
even duct tape can't fix stupid.... but it can muffle it (SilentObserver)
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