The Ensignette was one of the very characteristic camera types of Houghtons Ltd., London. This strut folding rollfilm camera of Houghton's "Ensign – British made" brand was an ingenious construction, a real vest pocket item when folded. One of the round framed impressions on its front plate says that it was based on patent 28464 of the year 1907. The Swedish engineer Magnus Neill had designed this first British all-metal camera of which ten of thousands were made. The camera was launched before Christmas 1909. It was ordered by distributors all over the world, for example by G. Gennert.
The Ensignette was a milestone in popular photography, providing for the first time a practical, truly compact camera at an affordable price to the average man. It was immensely popular, its appearance being timed perfectly to fill the need for a compact pocketable camera. It helped create a new type of photographer the 'Pocket Snap Shooter'.
The camera was designed like a luxurious cigarette metal case, with parts made of different kinds of brass and other metals, except some interior parts and the bellows which was made of very thin leather. Some metal parts were plated. The common feature being the use of struts on all Ensignette cameras.
This camera, the Model 2, was released in 1912 and took 2" x 3" exposures on E2 roll film. This early example of a miniature bellows has a flat front plate with pressed circles either side tabs - Ensign flag logo saying British made, and on the left side has "Made by Houghton's Ltd. England".
The camera has a working pivoted two-blade return shutter with speeds: instant + T, a waist level Brilliant finder and three working apertures (f11, 16 and 22). The shutter is working and the bellows appear light-tight from my torch testing, though I always use a dark cloth over bellows cameras just in case. The camera's body has some minor paint-loss (see photos), but this adds to the antique charm. When closed the camera measures 13cm, 7cm by 3cm deep (same size as an iPhone 7, but fatter!).
Rarely found in this condition. From my experience, this will sell very quickly, so don't miss out.