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Midg

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The Midg are a line of cameras made by the British company Butcher in the 1900s and 1910s. All are made of mahogany and contain a drop-plate magazine. Most are box-shaped detective cameras, but some expensive models have a folding bed at the front.

Midg cameras advertised in Britain in 1904–5 Edit

The Midg No.0 was advertised in 1904 as the "King of Guinea Camera".[1] It has an opening front door, and switchable close-up lenses to take pictures at 4, 8 or 12 feet. It was revised in 1905 with a new type of shutter adjustable from 1s to 1/100 and an f/8 lens, and was advertised along with a number of other Midg cameras, listed below in ascending price order:[2]

  • the Midg No.00, with a rising and cross front;
  • the Midg No.1A, with a Rapid Rectilinear lens and an everset shutter;
  • the Midg No.1, with a focusing Beck Symmetrical lens and an everset shutter;
  • the Midg No.2, with a focusing Beck Symmetrical lens and an automatic shutter;
  • the Midg No.3, with rack-and-pinion focusing, a Beck Symmetrical lens and an automatic shutter, existing in horizontal or vertical form;
  • the Midg No.4, with a folding bed, double extension, a Beck Symmetrical lens and an automatic shutter.

All these can hold 12 plates or 24 film sheets in quarter-plate size (3¼×4¼″). Other models reportedly take postcard-size plates (3¼×5½″).[3]

A Midg No.1 was used in 1917 by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths for the famous "Cottingley fairies" hoax.[4]

Midg cameras advertised in Japan in 1906–12 Edit

The Midg camera was exported to Japan. It appears as the "Midg Hand Camera" (ミッグ手提暗函) in a catalogue by Ueda Shashinki-ten dated April 1906, where four versions are listed:[5]

  • No.0, Achromat (アクロマット) lens, at ¥18;
  • No.A1, Rapid Rectilinear (迅速レクチリニアル) lens, at ¥25;
  • No.1, Beck Rapid Symmetrical (ベック迅速整斉) lens, at ¥30;
  • No.2, same lens, at ¥36.

The model numbers and lens equipment seem to correspond exactly to the British models, and the illustration of the catalogue is the same as that of the Midg No.1 in a British advertisement dated 1905.[6]

The camera also appears in catalogues by Konishi Honten (predecessor of Konica) or its authorized dealers. The December 1911 catalogue by Konishi Honten lists eight versions of the Midg:[7]

  • No.0, Achromat (アクロマット) lens, ¥18;
  • No.00, same lens, ¥21;
  • No.A1, Rapid Rectilinear (迅速レクチリニーア) lens, ¥30;
  • No.1, Beck Rapid Symmetrical (ベック迅速整斉) lens, ¥35;
  • No.2, same lens, ¥40;
  • Express (エキスプレス), same lens, ¥10;
  • No.3, Achromat (アクロマット) lens, ¥16;
  • No.4, same lens, ¥22.

The catalogue illustration is the same as used by Ueda, and the five first models are similar. The three other models do not seem to correspond to the British models advertised in 1905: No.3 and No.4 have a different lens and are priced cheaper than No.A1, and the Express is otherwise unknown.

The Midg is mentioned as a Konishi model in the official history of the company Shashin to tomo ni hyaku-nen;[8] it is not mentioned in issue no.10 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka devoted to Konica, which presents a comprehensive list of Konishi and Konishiroku models. Some Midg models might have been manufactured by Konishi Honten: at least one surviving Midg camera, found in Japan by Terasaki Haruhisa, has some details which might suggest Japanese assembly, perhaps from parts supplied by Butcher.[9] However nothing is yet clearly known.

Notes Edit

  1. Advertisement reproduced on p.493 of this collection of advertisements at butkus.org.
  2. Advertisements in The Amateur Photographer March 7, 1905 and March 28, 1905, reproduced on pp.437 and 492 of this collection of advertisements at butkus.org.
  3. Channing and Dunn, p.29, McKeown, p.172.
  4. See for example this page at ingenious.org.uk and this page at cottingley.net.
  5. Catalogue extract reproduced in this page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha.
  6. Advertisement in The Amateur Photographer March 7, 1905, reproduced on p.492 of this collection of advertisements at butkus.org.
  7. December 1911 catalogue by Konishi Honten, p.26. The name "Midg Hand Camera" is written slightly differently: ミズ手提暗函. An exactly similar document is reproduced in this page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha, from the January 1912 catalogue by Momose Saiseidō (百瀬済生堂).
  8. The chronology from the official company history Shashin to tomo ni hyaku-nen, reproduced in Tanaka, p.94 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.10, mentions the Midg as released in September 1907.
  9. See this page at R. Konishi Rokuoh-sha.

Bibliography Edit

Links Edit

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