View Full Version : Help Identifying Brass and Wood Camera ?

6-Aug-2013, 10:28
I would appreciate any help I could get from the forum to identify the following camera.


The only marking anywhere on the camera are actually on the lens - Wrays London 6 1/2 x 5. 8 1/2 in No 5115.
Thanks in advance

6-Aug-2013, 21:42
You have a half plate English field camera. I believe the maker was F. Bulmer and the model name is the Patent Reliable. Probably, about a century old--give or take a few years. The lens is a rapid rectilinear design that would have been suitable for portraits with your camera.

See: http://www.woodandbrass.co.uk/detail.php?cat_num=0041

7-Aug-2013, 10:24
Thank you for your help

phil laycock
9-Aug-2013, 15:11
Thank you for your help

The camera is a Lizars Combination as shown at http://www.earlyphotography.co.uk/site/entry_C645.html


9-Aug-2013, 23:58
I'd be more inclined to think it's made by Lizars, there are quite a few of their cameras around, they had 6 stores around the UK. It's also worth remembering that many British cameras were often sold with the name plate of the supplier. Lizars didn't supply Wray lenses.

You may have identified the spare round lens board I acquired a couple of years ago, I'll dig it out and measure it - I'd be willing to trade if it's of any use to you.

Incidently Lizars still exist as opticians, under the name Black & Lizars, and still have a specialist photographic store in Belfast.


10-Aug-2013, 06:53
A lot of English plate cameras sold under various names, and components were sourced from common suppliers--lineage isn't always clear. The Bulmer and the Lizars are probably linked somehow, but the OP's camera is more similar to the Bulmer Patent Reliable--look closely at the details.

The base of the OP's camera is unique and identical to the Bulmer--note the peculiar spacing of the staggered holes and the base hardware for the rear standards--an exact match. The Lizars base is significantly different with what looks like a routed channel on the side of the base, and different hardware.

10-Aug-2013, 10:03
There were other Lizars Challenge field cameras in their adverts different to the Combination Challenge and one has a solid base like the camera shown by the OP, and the back doesn't move in a brass track. Lizars were quite a large manufacturer.


10-Aug-2013, 19:44
Perhaps one of the Lizars cameras was marketed as the Bulmer Patent Reliable? So we're talking about the same camera. The sheer number of these wood and brass plate cameras amazes me. I'm surprised there was no Eastman equivalent (or Eastman itself) that snapped up bunches of these camera makers and consolidated them into a larger concern.

11-Aug-2013, 00:58
The same camera was also sold with a Hinton and also Robinson name plate, they are all on the Woodandbrass website. The Robinson has been modified though. It's quite clear these are from the same factory and badged by the retailer. So it's more likely a larger manufacurer supplying them.

I'm surprised there was no Eastman equivalent (or Eastman itself) that snapped up bunches of these camera makers and consolidated them into a larger concern.

One company did although more by almalgamation than takeover. Houghtons later to become Houghton Butcher became the largest camera manufactuer of their time and were also large manufacturers of film for the movie industry. From 1915 the holding company was British Photographic Industries Ltd

A major shareholder in BPI was Lord Astor (and family) the US born owner of the Times group of newspapers who had also been aide de Camp to the Viceroy of India 1911-14and Houghtons (India) set up in 1911 manufactured cameras there . Other shareholders in the late 1930's were from the families that owned companies that joined Houghtons in the period before WWI, Edwards, Butcher, Spratt, Houghton etc.

Houghton Butcher/Ensign's premises were destroyed in the Blitz in Sptember 1940 and the company liquidated.


phil laycock
13-Aug-2013, 02:38
Look what just turned up on ebay! http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=161085065495&ssPageName=ADME:B:SS:G

13-Aug-2013, 06:03
You should all be proud of the free appraisal you gave him, so that he can make the most money off of it. But you did get a thanks, that's unusual.

13-Aug-2013, 08:27
LOL, the thanks *is* unusual--at least he didn't ask 'how much is this worth?" We obviously get a stream of these "one and done" posters and they're not hard to spot, but sometimes the exchanges lead to good information. There were tons of English half-plate cameras made and the information is fairly arcane, so I'm not sure he'll be raking in the big bucks.

13-Aug-2013, 13:11
Maybe someone wants the camera :)

There's disinformation, Lonsdale did sell parts and camera kits but were based in London, there's no circular lens boards in their catalogue and that is not a common feature. Vevers were based in Leeds and also sold parts.