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Little Nipper

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1901 model Edit

British career Edit

The Little Nipper is a rebadged version of the German Hüttig Gnom magazine camera, sold by the British company Butcher from around 1901.[1] The camera has a metallic box-shaped body. It contains six plates and has a lever at the top for the drop-plate changing mechanism. There is a simple non self-capping shutter and a clip-on reflex finder, which can be attached to the top or to the side.

The camera was initially released in two sizes: the Little Nipper No.1 in 4.5×6cm size, and the Little Nipper No.2 in 6.5×9cm size.[2] The two models were advertised in The British Journal Photographic Almanac 1902.[3] In this document, the No.1 is listed at 4 shillings 6 pence, with the "developing and printing outfit" at 3 shillings extra, and the No.2 is listed at 6 shillings 6 pence, with the "developing and printing outfit" at 4 shillings extra. The illustration for the No.1 shows four winged gnoms surrounding the camera, perhaps an allusion to the name of the original German camera. The words "THE LITTLE NIPPER CAMERA 4/6" are visible on the camera's side; these are part of the illustration only and do not appear on the actual camera. ("4/6" is the camera's price, not the format.) The same way, the illustration for No.2 has the words "TAKES PICTURES 3½×2½ INCHES", confirming the 6.5×9cm picture size.

The Little Nipper met some success: in 1901 an article in Amateur Photographer was titled "Little Nipper - 50,000 sold in 6 months !", and the advertisement cited above mentions "nearly 100,000 [units] already sold".[4]

A Little Nipper No.3 and a Little Nipper Rollfilm (6×6cm) appeared around 1902; the latter is perhaps very different from the original magazine camera.[5]

Japanese developments Edit

The Little Nipper was exported to Japan, and was very influential on the early Japanese amateur cameras. It was mainly introduced as an educational camera, used to teach the principles of photography to children.[6]

Imported by Ueda as the VVV Edit

The Little Nipper was imported into Japan from 1901 by the Osaka-based company Ueda Shashinki-ten under the name VVV or Three V (三ぶいかめら).[7]

An advertisement by Ueda says that "Three V" is another name for the Little Nipper, but does not explicitly say that the camera is an imported model.[8] The illustration is a copy of that found in The British Journal Photographic Almanac 1902. It shows the words "V.V.V CAMERA 4½×6Cm" on the camera's side, and only three gnoms out of four are visible, certainly to fit the name "Three V". A number of versions are listed in the advertisement:

  • No.1 (一號), 4.5×6cm size, dimensions 8.2×4.8×9.1cm:[9]
    • model (甲), ¥3;
    • model Otsu (乙), ¥2.50;
    • accessories, ¥1.10;
  • No.2, 6.5×9cm size, dimensions 12.1×7.0×13.0cm:[10]
    • model Special (特號), ¥8;
    • model (甲), ¥4;
    • model Otsu (乙), ¥3.50;
  • No.3, 8×10.5cm tefuda size, dimensions 15.2×12.1×15.2cm:[11]
    • model Special (特號), ¥8;
    • model (甲), ¥5;
    • model Otsu (乙), ¥4.20.

In the model names, Kō and Otsu are the two first characters of a series sometimes used to count from 1 to 10. The case was priced at ¥0.60 for the No.1 and No.2, and at ¥0.80 for the No.3. Two types of tripods were also available: model Kō for ¥1.50 and model Otsu for ¥1.

Ueda later made its own copies of the Little Nipper, sold in 1909 as the New Nipper or Star Nipper.

Imported by Asanuma Shōkai as the Nippon Camera for Children Edit

The Little Nipper was reportedly imported from 1902 by the Tokyo-based Asanuma Shōkai as the Nippon Camera for Children (児童用ニッポンカメラ, Jidōyō Nippon Kamera).[12] This model was advertised by Asanuma with the same illustration as used by Butcher in The British Journal Photographic Almanac 1902, showing four gnoms wandering around the camera.[13]

Copies and other Edit

The Cherry No.1 by Konishi Honten was a wooden copy of the Little Nipper No.1. Other cameras related to the Little Nipper are reported, but it is unclear if they were imported or locally produced.[14]

One surviving camera is known with a round UEDA logo at the front.[15] It is presented by one source as a Three V, but its exact model name is unknown. It is made of wood, and is thus certainly a local copy of the Gnom and Little Nipper. It takes six 4.5×6cm plates in metal sheaths. The back is removable and is locked into place by clamps on either side. The changing lever atop the camera has a round base, unlike that of the Gnom. No pin is visible to attach a clip-on finder, and the camera was perhaps sold with no finder at all. The shutter is a simple non self-capping model, similar to that of the Gnom.

1922 model Edit

A new Little Nipper, made of cardboard, was released around 1922.[16] Its production was certainly continued by Houghton-Butcher, and a leaflet dated 1929 for the "Ensign Little Nipper" has been reported.[17]

Notes Edit

  1. Test reports published in 1901 issues of Amateur Photographer have been offered for sale by a dealer.
  2. A dealer has offered 1901 test reports titled "Butcher & Sons Little Nipper (1 3/4 x 2 5/8")" and "Butcher & Sons Little Nipper No 2 (2 1/2 x 3 1/2")". McKeown, p.172, says the contrary: "No.2 takes 4.5×6cm plates; a larger model takes 6.5×9cm plates", but this is a mistake.
  3. Advertisement reproduced in Lewis, p.16, and in Yazawa, p.41 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.51.
  4. Article of Amateur Photographer offered for sale by a dealer. Advertisement in The British Journal Photographic Almanac 1902 reproduced in Lewis, p.16, and in Yazawa, p.41 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.51.
  5. A dealer has offered 1902 test reports titled "Butcher & Sons Little Nipper No.3" and "Butcher & Sons Little Nipper Rollfilm (2 1/4"-square)".
  6. Educational camera: Lewis, p.16.
  7. Lewis, p.16, Yazawa, pp.40 and 43 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.51, Horii, pp.44–5 of the same magazine.
  8. Advertisement reproduced in Yazawa, p.43 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.51 and in Horii, p.45 of the same magazine: 一名りとるにっぱー.
  9. Picture size: 竪一寸九分巾一寸五分. Dimensions: 高サ二寸七分巾一寸六分横三寸.
  10. Picture size: 竪三寸巾二寸一分. Dimensions: 高四寸巾二寸三分横四寸三分.
  11. Picture size: 竪三寸五分巾二寸七分手札形. Dimensions: 高五寸巾三寸横五寸.
  12. Lewis, p.16, Yazawa, pp.40 and 42 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.51.
  13. Advertising illustration reproduced in Lewis, p.16, and in Yazawa, p.42 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.51.
  14. Lewis, p.16.
  15. Example pictured in Horii, p.46 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.51.
  16. McKeown, p.172.
  17. Leaflet offered for sale by a dealer.

Bibliography Edit

Links Edit

In Japanese:

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