British photographic history

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I have a reflex camera with both these names attached on plaques on it. It's quite large, the one bookform film holder fits 5x7sheaths.I'm in the middle of restoring it, as someone dropped it sometime ( I think) and cracked the front standard.

It looks something like "The Britisher" reflex, but the winding mechanism is different. Also has a lower mechanism that looks like the speed regulator on a T.P. shutter.

I was hoping that someone could give me more information about this than I can find on the net. Did A.E. Staley and Sands and Hunter collaborate on cameras, or did Staley sell cameras made by Sands and Hunter? About how old would this camera be? and finally, how do I work it? I've managed a mirror  up setting so I can take paper negatives, but adjusting speeds is mysterious. Seems to work fine though.

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This looks like the Royal sold/made by Staley  in the 1900s. The large focusing hood was introduced in 1908.  Sands & Hunter would have been the retailer either new or second hand.  I'll add some photos that show adverts for the camera.

That would explain why the Staley plaque is set in to the 

frame and the Sands and Hunter is more like a sticker. Thank you

any information would be welcome. As for working it...would the TP like mechanism be for the speeds? The top roller also has what seems like a tension winder and on the other side of the box there is a disc that has numbers that rotate in a little window. Hardly a frame counter... could it be for speeds?
very interesting that I found this very British camera in an antique shop here in Vancouver under a lot of dust.

Hopefully two files are attached showing adverts for the Royal from 1907 and 1908.

The shutter is probably set in two parts – by setting the spring tension which controls the rate at which the blinds move and by changing the gap between the two blinds. The spring tension would be set on the lower shaft to which the blind is is attached, the gap is set somewhere near the top roller (this might be the counter you mentioned). The large knob on the side plate in the 1907 advert winds the shutter.


Thank you, this helps a lot. 

The camera is in surprisingly good shape, despite rusty screws and a hole in a shutter curtain. A mouse evidently tried to make it a home long ago and made a doorway through the shutter....part of one interior side panel is chewed down, and there were wood chips everywhere. 

not sure if you needed to know that, just a comment on what these old cameras can survive!

im looking forward to reading the entries on the forum. 

Good morning.

This camera from Staley is most probably of German origin. It looks very similar to the Goltz & Breutmann Mentor Reflex from 1905. Staley at the time was selling other Mentor cameras, such as the 'Collapsible Royal Focal Plane' camera, which is a Mentor II klapp camera. It is not clear if Staley built any cameras, or if they were only distributors of cameras from other makers after fitting a British lens, as also Sands, Hunter & Co.

Managed to get the front standard moving again, and the camera does not have metal side runners. It has a bottom metal plate that fits into grooves and a track like there are on view cameras. I see that the Mentor Reflex has side rails. Was there a version that didn’t?



Yes, the lateral rails appeared circa 1911, before it was a baseboard with bottom rails. See the attached extract from McKeown's guide, p.659. Also attached another Mentor (Klein-Mentor) rebranded in the UK, the 'Sickle Reflex de Luxe' by O. Sichel & Co., which is the Mentor 1907 model with a different shutter configuration but also with no lateral rails.

Regards, Jose



My camera looks like the one in the first attachment...exactly!

The restoration is going well. I still can’t figure out the speeds but for now I’ll just keep the curtains open and use the mirror as a shutter. 

thanks very much for your help

And here is a page of the Mentor catalogue from c. 1907 with the original description of your camera.

Mentor Spiegel-Reflex-Camera_1905-07.jpeg


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