THE LILLIPUT CAMERA††††

E. & H.T. Anthony & Company, New York†††††††††††††† 1889 - 1892

 

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The Lilliput Camera was designed by Erastus B. Barker, with Patent No. 400,162 being granted to him on March 26, 1889.This same patent applied to Anthony's Simplex Camera that would be introduced the following year. Barker's roots in photography go back to the late 1850's, and per Craig's Daguerreian Registry, he was a dealer in daguerreian apparatus and materials at 377 Broadway, New York. Barker was also listed in Trow's New York City Directory, Volume LXXIV, for the Year Ending May 1, 1861, as a dealer in daguerreotype materials at 522 Broadway. Barker is believed to have been employed by E. & H.T. Anthony & Company during the 1860's and would continue to work closely with the company during the 1880's and 1890's. Barker held at least nineteen other photographic patents, many of which were assigned to E. & H.T. Anthony & Company.

 

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††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††Source:U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

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†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Source:U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

 

This diminutive detective camera's box measures 3-13/16" wide, 3-7/8" high and 6-1/4" deep.It utilized 2-1/2" x 2-1/2" glass plates that were held in six double plate holders.Controls for cocking and firing the shutter were located at the bottom, being accessed through the Lilliput's fitted leather case.

Both the Lilliput and the Simplex utilized a brass tensioning frame. This frame applied pressure against the plate holder stack, maintaining an effective light seal for the forward-most holder being readied for the exposure:

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The few examples seen of the Lilliput usually show this brass retainer to be placed directly behind the plate holder at the front. This is actually incorrect, as per the patent, the tension frame is positioned at the camera's rear when a using a full complement of plate holders. As seen on the Lilliput, three slots are found wherein the tensioning frame may be placed. One slot is positioned behind the plate holder readied for exposure, another spaced to accommodate a complement of three plate holders and the last being at the rear with six plate holders in place:

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When the tensioning frame is in the first position behind the plate holder seated for an exposure, and the camera is fully loaded with six plate holders, it's extremely difficult to insert and remove the holder. However, if only one plate holder is to be used in the camera and the five spaces behind it are empty, then the plate holder can be seated and the tension frame slid in.When the tension frame is located at the 3-plate position or at the rear with a full complement of six plate holders, the frame places just enough tension to maintain a light seal yet allows insertion and removal of a plate holder with relative ease.

 

Another interesting feature covered by the patent were two brass strips, located on the camera's casing rim between the two forward tension frame slots. These strips are missing on the Lilliput featured here, but they can be seen on the Simplex Camera shown below:

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These strips extended over the edges of the plate holders, positioned second and third in line, but not over the plate holder in the first position. With the entire stack of plate holders under tension, the strips' function was to prevent the two most adjacent holders from being pulled out, as the exposed plate holder was being removed or rotated to expose the opposite side.

 

Missing its leather satchel case, this example provides a glimpse into the Lilliput's inner workings not generally seen in most photos and advertisements.The body's top edge is stamped "Pat. App'd. For" (Patent Applied For), at the front and at the rear, indicating this particular camera was manufactured prior to the issuance of the March 26, 1889 patent date. No other markings appear on the camera, but the plate holders are stamped "E. & H.T. Anthony & Co."

 

By July,1889, Anthony was already supplying the Lilliput for use with sheet film rather than glass plates, offering the camera with its lens, six double plate holders, twelve patent film kits, nine dozen celluloid films and a non-actinic lantern for $25.00. Sales were poor since George Eastman had just introduced his roll film-based Kodak (Original) in 1888, making the Lilliput somewhat passť with its more cumbersome plate system. The last year of manufacture is unconfirmed, but the Lilliput still appeared in Anthony's Illustrated Catalogue of Photographic Equipments and Materials for Amateurs, November, 1892.

 

Produced in very few numbers for at least three years, the Lilliput is rarely seen today.

 

 

 

 

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†††††††† †††††††††††††††††From Schultze's Descriptive Catalogue, 1889

 

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††††††† From Anthony's Illustrated Catalogue of Photographic Equipments and Materials for Amateurs, January, 1891