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William K.L. Dickson, Anglo-Scottish inventor (http://www.victorian-cinema.net/dickson.htm  ) an assistant to Thomas Edison at Menlo Park, New Jersey research facility designed a pocket watch camera (25th July 1893) which was improved and patented (3rd April 1894) by Herman Casler, American (http://www.victorian-cinema.net/casler.htm) in 1893. Herman Casler patented the Presto camera in England in 1895 and again E.B Koopman, president of Magic Introduction Co., was involved in its distribution..

The Magic Photoret was made in New York and sold for $2.50 between 1894 and 1901 distributed in a neat wooden box. It has a mediocre meniscus lens and a unique rotator shutter. It makes six hexagonal images 1/2 inch (13mm) across on a film 1 3/4 inches in diameter. It has to be loaded and unloaded in a darkroom, having no provision for plate holder or cassette although the camera is engraved "A MAGAZINE SNAP-SHOT CAMERA" and one advertisement suggests that it can be loaded in the daylight.

The Photoret weights only 112grams and is 60mm across, with the shutter release/ ring protruding another 25mm.

It uses a straight pin, stuck into the hole on the front of the camera,  to take time exposures.

It was distributed in Great Britain by George Houghton and Son.

A number of accessories where made for the camera including enlarger, printing frame and processing materials. The tiny photographs that it produced were termed "photette".

The review in Photography was optimistic that it would introduce many more people to photography, however it was dropped from the Houghton's catalogue in 1900. Houghton went on to market a version of the Expo, the Ticka in 1904.

Differences include the engraving on the front of "PATENTS ALLOWED & PENDING" and on the back of  "Patented through the World / U.S. JULY 25, 93 NOV. 28, 93" or "PAT'D JULY 25, 93 NOV. 25, 93 OTHERS PENDING" and on the back  "FMR"/"BREVETE S.G. D.G / MADE IN U.S.A." On some November is spelt in full. Instructions have diagrams indicating that there may be cameras with the engraving "PATENTED JULY 25, 93 NOV 28, 92"

Ebay 2003/01/29 475USD,2003/05/01 706EUR, 2003/10/25 707EUR (box), 2003/12/19 1625USD (box), 2004/08/24 1259USD, (box), 2004/09/27 1049USD (box), 2005/03/15 918.88USD , 2005/05/21 600EUR, 2005/05/21 1200EUR (box), 2006/03/25 550EUR+commission (with box, camera back not original), *2006/05/20 480EURO+commission 120.03EUR, 2007/04/30 651USD

Box only 2004/01/11 38.90USD, 2005/09/08 51USD, 2008/01/07 102.50USD

Book only 2006/12/04 9.50USD





Lothrop, Eaton S., Jr. --A Century of Cameras from the Collection of the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House.-- Dobbs Ferry, NY: Morgan & Morgan, 1973. pp 85.//
McKeown, Jim & McKeown, Joan. --McKeown's Price Guide to Antique & Classic Cameras: 2005-2006-- Grantsburg, WI: Centennial Photo, 2005. pp 642


Go to the main index Last updated 19th January 2008