introduction | Merlin black | Merlin blue | Merlin green | Merlin red | ERAC
In 1936 the English firm, United Optical Instruments, 162 High Street, Southend-on-Sea, Essex marketed the Merlin, a cast metal novelty camera fastened together with two screws. It is one of the strongest cameras every made, easily tough enough to withstand the weight of a full-grown man although now it equally likely to fracture in your hand.
The Merlin was sold in black, blue, green and red in a crackle finish enamel.
It used a special 20mm roll film taking 20 exposures 18x18 mm. It had a single speed shutter and a f/16 lens.
It has a collapsible sports finder, a polished metal winding knob and an instantaneous shutter.
Some cameras have an orange transfer on the underside that gives the camera name. This is usually well worn or missing leaving a fait trace of it's outline.
A later version of has a lock for the back of the camera.
In 1937 Steward patented a pistol shaped device which he introduced on the market the following years as the Erac Automatic Pistol Camera. The Erac Selling Company of London was infact based in Southend-on-Sea. This is a simple bakelite box in the shape of a snub-nosed pistol. The two halves of the case are held together with a single large screw. The large trigger-ratchet mechanism, fired the shutter and also advanced the film; when it worked.
The box declared "ERAC - The camera which is always ready, the only real snapshot camera in the world, no film winding, just pull the trigger, the camera does the rest."
Last updated 23rd May 2005