Frena No. 2 - Antique and Vintage Cameras

Presentation Frena No. 2

1897

R & J Beck

London

England

Image of Presentation Frena No. 2

Lens:
f8, 5 ½" Rapid Rectilinear, sector type wheel stops marked in US 8, 16, 32, 256 (f11, f16, f22, f64).

Shutter:
Sector type, spring powered, adjustable sector size to vary exposure, speeds 1/5, 1/10, 1/20, 1/40.

Construction:
Brown leather covered wooden body with brass fittings. Leather is stitched at the corners.

Format:
40, 3 ¼" x 4 ¼" cut films held in internal mechanism.

Focusing:
By close focus lenses.

Attributes:
Single reflecting view-finder and single direct ground glass view-finder with rear mirror. Spirit level. Exposure counter.

Identification:
Early type changing handle.

Movements:
Tilting back.

Serial Number:
5909 .

Notes:
Address: R & J Beck Ltd. 68 Cornhill. E. C.

With:

  • 4 close focusing lenses: No 1, 32' - 9'; No 2, 10' - 6'; No 3, 6' to 4 ½'; No 4, 4 ½' - 3 ½'.
  • Box containing 3 negatives marked 'The Austin Edwards Frena Film', one negative is of a car c. 1900 - 1906. 20 Frena film dividers and 13 films.
  • Frena Exposure Book (useful tips and for storing exposure details). Case.

Presentation Frena No. 2

1897

R & J Beck

London

England

Image of Presentation Frena No. 2

Lens:
f8, 5 ½" Rapid Rectilinear, sector type wheel stops marked in US 8, 16, 32, 256 (f11, f16, f22, f64).

Shutter:
Sector type, spring powered, adjustable sector size to vary exposure, speeds 1/5, 1/10, 1/20, 1/40.

Construction:
Brown leather covered wooden body with brass fittings. Leather is stitched at the corners.

Format:
40, 3 ¼" x 4 ¼" cut films held in internal mechanism.

Focusing:
Fixed.

Attributes:
Single reflecting view-finder and single direct ground glass view-finder with rear mirror. Spirit level. Exposure counter. Bracket for bulb release.

Identification:
Early type changing handle.

Movements:
Tilting back.

Serial Number:
4964 .

Frena No 2

c. 1893

R & J Beck

London

England

Image of Frena No 2

Lens:
f8, 5 ½" Rapid Rectilinear, sector type wheel stops marked in US 8, 16, 32, 256 (f11, f16, f22, f64).

Shutter:
Sector type, spring powered, adjustable sector size to vary exposure, speeds 1/5, 1/10, 1/20, 1/40. Self-capping.

Construction:
Leather covered wood body.

Format:
40, 3 ¼" x 4 ¼" cut films held in internal mechanism.

Focusing:
Fixed.

Attributes:
Single reflecting view-finder and single direct ground glass view-finder with rear mirror. Spirit level. Exposure counter to 20.

Identification:
Early type changing handle.

Movements:
Tilting back.

Serial Number:
10903 .

The Original Frena was introduced in 1892 and based on the patents of J. T. Clarke. The Frena takes 40 films interleaved with cards, as light shields. The films have notches along two sides. When a film has been exposed pins in front of the film are slid to coincide with the notches and so release the film. The next film has notches in the alternate position and so is held in place by the pins. Depending on the model the exposed film is stored in the base (Original model) or back of the camera.

In 1893 the Original model was superseded by the Frena normally found having a long rectangular profile. In the late 1890s the eccentric handle used to change film was replaced with a bar shaped handle. This had always been present on the smallest size. On cameras with eccentric handles the camera divides near the back, the changing mechanism remains fixed in the front portion. Those with bar handles are divided in the middle and the mechanism is removable.

Early models have a lyre shaped back catch, this was replaced by spring catches mounted above the hinge. The face of the camera varies in design between models. All models were available in a de luxe finish of light calf skin and lacquered brass.

The Frena was probably the first magazine camera made solely for cut-films; an attempt to reduce weight. The Frena proved very popular; in 1900 a range of Folding Frenas was introduced and also a separate Frena magazine for attaching to a field camera.

The price of the No 2 was £8.17.6, or £10.10.0 in a presentation finish.

Some modern sources give the finish as gold plated, advertisements show it as lacquered brass. The finish on the brass differs between the examples shown.

Frena Models

ModelDateSizeLens
Original18923 ¼" x 3 ¼".
0 c. 18973 ½" x 2 ⅝"Rapid Rectilinear 4 ¼".
0018963 ½" x 2 ⅝"Single Achromat f11 4 ¼".
218933 ¼" x 4 ¼"Rapid Rectilinear 5 ½".
2218983 ¼" x 4 ¼"Single Achromat f11 5 ½".
318964" x 5"Rapid Rectilinear 6 ½".
The Original model was called the number 1 with the introduction of the model 2.

Versions

0Bar type handle. Aperture setting by short lever around shutter setting knob. Brass escutcheon surrounding lens and shutter setting knob. Without built-in magnifiers. Removable mechanism. Lyre shaped body catch.
0As above but body locking mechanism changed to spring catches.
00Bar type handle. Wide aperture setting slot below shutter setting knob. Brass escutcheon surrounding lens, shutter setting knob and aperture setting slot. Without built-in magnifiers. Removable mechanism. Lyre shaped body catch.
00As above but body locking mechanism changed to spring catches.
2Eccentric type handle. Aperture setting by short lever around shutter setting knob. Brass escutcheon surrounding lens and shutter setting knob. Without built-in magnifiers. Lyre shaped body catch.
2Bar type handle. Aperture setting by short lever around shutter setting knob. Brass escutcheon surrounding lens, shutter setting knob and finders. Built-in magnifiers. Removable mechanism. Spring catches to lock body.
22Bar type handle. Wide aperture setting slot below shutter setting knob. Brass escutcheon surrounding lens, shutter setting knob and aperture setting slot. Without built-in magnifiers. Removable mechanism.
3Eccentric type handle. Aperture setting by short lever around shutter setting knob. Brass escutcheon surrounding lens and shutter setting knob. Built-in magnifiers. Lyre shaped body catch.
3Bar type handle. Aperture setting by short lever around shutter setting knob. Brass escutcheon surrounding lens, shutter setting knob and finders. Built-in magnifiers. Removable mechanism. Spring catches to lock body.
Originally an f8 Beck Rapid Rectilinear lens was supplied on the models 2 and 3, around 1901 a Beck Steinheil was available at f6.8 or f6.3.

The change from eccentric to bar handle (models 2 and 3) was made in 1899 between serial numbers 13000 and 14000.

Accessories

  • Magnifiers for close focusing. These were available in three sets - Ordinary, for portraiture; High power and Extra high power. The cameras 0 and 00 had three lenses in each set, the 2, 22 and 3 had four lenses to a set.
  • Flap shutter for slow speed work. Introduced in c. 1899.
  • Pneumatic release. Introduced c. 1899.

Changing Mechanism

Details of the changing mechanism differ but the principle is the same on all models. The films are interleaved with cardboard light-baffles and loaded in a metal box inside the camera. At the front of the box is a set of pins able to slide vertically between two positions. Each film (and its cardboard baffle) has wide notches at its edges, the films are arranged so that the notches are not aligned in consecutive films i.e. the notch in the second film is underneath a projection in the first film. After exposure the metal box is revolved, when the box faces the back of the camera a cam in the camera meets a projection on the box which moves the pins in front of the film, the film at the front of the box can now fall out while the next film is held by the pins. The diagram shows the arrangement in the 1893 model with fixed mechanism, with this model the camera must be facing upwards to operate the changing mechanism. A cloth attached to the back of the box prevents light reaching the exposed films.

References & Notes:
BP 11891/1890. BP 9819/1892. BP 9820/1892. BP 23315/1892. BP 6489/1896. BP 17685/1893. BJA 1900, pp. 900. 903, 1275. BJA 1899, pp. 899, 1223. BJA 1902, p. 1393. BJA 1905, p. 179. Photographic News 15/5/1896. Photographic News 7/8/1896.

Further Information:
Lothrop, Century, p.107.

Illustrations:
Christie's Cat. 30/7/1992 lot 217. Small Presentation model. Christie's Cat. 17/9/2002 lot 298A. Presentation model, later style front panel. Christie's Cat. 23/11/2000 lot 317. Presentation Model 22.


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