Sanderson camera?


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Nov 11, 2003
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I think I just landed a Sanderson (British) view camera on eBay. I'm ashamed to name the price. However, all the Sandersons that I am familiar with look slightly different (such as polished Teak wood for the front panel, brass fittings).

As I am not very familiar with the British makers, can someone enlighten me whether this is or it is not a Sanderson?

I'll attach two pictures, one of the camera I won and the other one a picture I found on the Internet of a Sanderson camera.

Any ideas?


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I might have found the ID. I believe it to be the Ensign Sanderson Hand Camera. Here is a pic from Christie's of London:


Woohoo! Neat looking little thing, can hardly wait to see it.
wow.. she's a beauty. Sorry I don't know much about it....

The day I actually know something about vintage cameras that isn't already contained within your vast knowledge base is the day I....... ah who am I kidding?? That day will never come. :lol:
wow.. she's a beauty. Sorry I don't know much about it....

The day I actually know something about vintage cameras that isn't already contained within your vast knowledge base is the day I....... ah who am I kidding?? That day will never come. :lol:

:lol:, Join the club, the only thing I have on you here is that I have seen one, Dosen't mean I know anything about it though.
Neat camera -- congrats!

McKeown's Guide lists a Sanderson Camera Works of England (1856-1929)
and lists several models, all appear to be plate cameras.

What is unique about them is their lens board support system which was
claimed to make movements easier than on other cameras.
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Thanks! I can hardly wait to see it, should be here in about a week.
It would be interesting to put date to the camera, perhaps find an advert. Ensign was a trade name used by Houghton Butcher for their cameras smaller cameras, they had taken over Sanderson in 1905.

By the 50's Ensign was part of Ross Ensign, camera production stopped in the early 60's.

I found the following info from an auction site on the web:

"Houghton-Butcher Mfg. Co., London; quarter-plate, black-leather covered body, blued-metal fittings, ebonised wood and bright-nickelled interior fittings, black leather bellows, with a Carl Zeiss, Jena Protar VII 29cm. lens no. 407576 and two double dark slides, in a fitted canvas case LITERATURE R. C. Smith (1975), Antique Cameras, p. 152. Brian Coe (1978), Cameras, pp. 38, 48-49. Edward Holmes (1974), An Age of Cameras, p. 50-52. British Journal Photographic Almanac 1901, pp. 911-913. NOTES The Sanderson range of field and hand cameras was one of the most popular and longest-lived British camera designs in production from 1895 until the second world war, with many remaining in service well into the 1960s and beyond. Frederick H. Sanderson's patent, the basis of the whole range and, in modern parlance, the unique selling point, was granted on 10 January 1895 (British patent number 613). The patent described a strut system that allowed the camera back or front to be fixed at any angle in conjunction with an adjustable lens panel. Sanderson began selling the camera until the sole rights were passed to Houghtons Ltd. who made and marketed the camera until it's demise. During the camera's history over sixty distinct models of camera were produced supported by an extensive range of lens and shutter combinations and accessories. The basic field camera design was added to in 1899 by the hand and stand Sanderson. This design went through an extensive range of minor modifications including a rollfilm version (1903) and standard and tropical versions in various plate sizes, until the 1930s when an ebonised version with chrome fittings was introduced. Along the way three different types of front standard catch were brought in, six different lens panel fixings, and body types and there were seven distinct label types amongst other variations. The first Sanderson camera appeared in late 1895 and was advertised from 1896. Houghtons took over the manufacture from 1897. Houghtons described the camera as: 'A new principle on Camera Construction... [the] Greatest advance yet made in camera construction... Distinct from every other camera on the market'. The Sanderson patented struts were claimed to do: 'away with the tilting of the camera, entirely dispenses with the swing back and in place of all the old movements and adjustments of Camera and Stand, a greater latitude between lens and plate is secured, with the power to swing the front and to compose a subject on the Ground Glass, and roughly focus it, all by one and the same action, and is controlled by two adjusting screws only, one on either side of the camera front'. From the earliest days the camera was made available in plate sizes from quarter-plate to 15 x 12 inches. The Sanderson hand camera even by 1938 was described by in the Ensign Photographic Catalogue as: 'One of the worlds most famous cameras and used extensively by most serious workers. The Sanderson embodies every possible movement that may be required for any sort of pictorial subject'. During the course of the camera's history the camera struts were numbered consecutively from three-figure numbers to a high in the 26,000 series."

So, based on the text above, the camera I found dates from the 1930s. Interesting...
I may have some 30's adverts that include the camera, I'll look when I'm next in the UK.


Wow!! Thanks Ian! I appreciate any extra info, literature on this camera.
The little gem came today and she is a beauty! It's in almost mint condition, bellows feel like they left the factory a few days ago. Lens (127mm Ektar, not original but will do) sounds a little sluggish on the slower speeds, will clean it soon.

I'll take a few pics of it when I get rid of the flu.
I promised a copy of a Sanderson advert from my BJP Almanac's however the Houghton Butcher company had changed by 1934/5 to become Ensign.

But I've only just found a much older copy, 1910 here's the advert for your camera (or a variant of it)


Hope it's of interest :D

Of interest?? I love it!!!!!!!!

Thanks Ian, I'll print this baby and set it aside with the camera. Thanks a million!

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