THE P.D.Q. DETECTIVE CAMERA
E. & H.T. Anthony & Company, New York 1889-1891
Anthony's P.D.Q. Detective Camera appears as early as 1890, in an advertisement for E. & H.T. Anthony's specialties in their The International Annual Anthony's Photographic Bulletin Volume III, 1890-91. Per William & Estelle Marder's Anthony, The Man, The Company, The Cameras, 1982, the P.D.Q. "was introduced as "a beautiful Christmas present" for 1889".
Priced initially at $20 in black grained leather covering, by 1891, the leather model was reduced to $17.50 and a polished walnut version was available for $15.00.
The P.D.Q. abbreviation stood for "Photography Done Quickly" and the camera was available in 4x5 only. Four patent dates can be found stamped on the rear side door's interior: November 11, 1884, March 22, 1887, March 29, 1887 and November 8, 1887:
These patents were granted to William H. Lewis (and in the case of one, shared with Erastus B. Barker), all of which were assigned to E. & H.T. Anthony & Company. The patents covered design elements found on Anthony's earlier Novel/Novelette and Climax Detective cameras that were also incorporated within the P.D.Q. Detective.
As configured from the factory and seen on this example, the P.D.Q. was fitted with Anthony's Single No. 1 Achromatic landscape lens with wheel stops. The lens cap and tripod screw stored neatly in the front compartment when not in use. Viewing was accomplished through a single reversible viewfinder, that could be removed and rotated for vertical or horizontal photographs. The camera incorporated what was then, an all new time and instantaneous shutter, which always remained closed except during exposure. The camera could utilize either Anthony's Patent Zephyr Double Dry Plate Holders, or their new patent double holders for films. Three holders could be stored within the rear compartment.
Some examples of the P.D.Q. have been found with factory directions for use, affixed to the interior of the sliding rear panel. One glance at this timeworn label only reinforces just how old this camera is:
By 1892, the P.D.Q. was dropped from Anthony's line, possibly due to the advent of magazine cameras that simplified the picture taking process.
Relatively few P.D.Q.'s are seen today, and even though the polished walnut version is less prevalent than the leather-covered, the latter is harder to locate in fine condition. Like many other cameras from that period, the leather covering didn't hold up well on the P.D.Q. and most examples are found with the covering cracked, chipped or flaked off.