ANTINOUS THE WORLD'S LOVELIEST CAMERA
THERE is an Antinous flower, a red lotus called the Antinoeios. And there is an Antinous tarantula, called Pamphobeteus antinous. There is a STAR OF ANTINOUS and an Antinous Asteroid and there is even an ANTINOUS CRATER on one of the moons of Saturn.
But only collectors of antique photographic equipment have ever heard of the Antinous Camera.
At the start of the 20th Century the British camera-maker Watson Edwards brought out the "Antinous", a revolutionary new bellows camera that folded up flat so that it could be taken anywhere in a handy carrying case. This was in an age when bellows cameras were bulky and enormous.
In a sense, it was the first "pocket" camera. And it was such a thing of beauty, with brass fittings and mahogany woodwork, that its manufacturer couldn't resist calling it the "Antinous."
Occasionally, an Antinous camera comes up for auction on EBAY. And even more rarely, some of the Antinous camera accessories come onto the market. One such item, coveted by collectors, is the Antinous Shutter-Release Cable.
Vintage camera buffs adore this wire-cable which replaced the traditional rubber bulb squeeze release which had been problem-prone. Sometimes when you squeezed the rubber bulb it failed to trigger the shutter.
But the "Antinous" always worked. It revolutionized professional photography on the early wooden cameras.
In a classic book on stereoscopic photography for use in "science, industry and education" written prior to 1935, an authority with the Royal College of Science in London laments that most camera shutter release knobs or levers are so badly located that there is a tendency to shake the camera in releasing the shutter. Antinous to the rescue!
"Personally," the expert advises, "the use of the Antinous release is preferred for hand work; the release of this can be arranged in any convenient position to suit the operator, and there is no tendency to rock the camera."
The Watson Edwards "Antinous" was displayed in 1905 at the Royal Photographic Society's 50th Annual Exhibition as being practical and handy, since it could roll flat to fit "in the tiniest pocket cameras". Today the "Antinous Camera" and its many accessories is a prized part of any collection of vintage British photographic equipment.