Stirn's Waistcoat Camera - Antique and Vintage Cameras

Stirn's Waistcoat Camera


C.P. Stirn



Image of Stirn's Waistcoat Camera

f11, 1 ⅝", fixed stop.

Sector type, single speed. Spring powered. Shutter consists of a disk with 3 cut outs. Each aperture in turn is used to make the exposure. Advancing the plate tensions the shutter.

Nickel plated metal body.

6, 1 ⅝" diameter exposures on a 5 ¼" diameter plate.


Serial Number:
6408 .

Agents address on camera: J. Robinson & Sons. 172 Regent St. London & Dublin.

Carrying cord.

The Stirn is based on the patents of R.D. Gray and is very similar to the Gray camera produced by Weston Electric. The main difference being the hinged back found on all but the earliest Stirn cameras. It is a concealed camera to be worn under a waistcoat with a lens shaped like an ornamental button. A long string hangs from the camera to operate the shutter, this would have been hidden in a trouser pocket.

The Stirn proved popular, more so than the Gray or others of similar form and, according to contemporary reviews, gave good results. The six exposure model appeared in 1886 two years later a larger size for four, 2 ¼" exposures on a 7" plate was introduced. This larger model is less common. By 1890 the larger model was no longer made, the smaller continued for a few more years. The normal finish is nickel plated but some have an oxidised finish. The camera is often found in a green presentation box. The price was around £1.3.6 the same as a cheap field camera.

A number of accessories were available: printing frames for the circular plates; a plate cutting die; developing and printing equipment and storage boxes for the plates. For use on a tripod a wooden box to hold the camera was available, this also doubled as a carrying case. An accessory finder was also made.

References & Notes:
BP 9655/1886. BJA 1886, pp. 35, 214. BJA 1890, p. 89 (Optimus). YBP 1888, p. cxlv. Phot. Journal 1887, p. xxx. Lothrop, Century, p. 29.

Prague Cat. 512. Larger model. Isenberg, p.119. Carrying case. Christie's Cat. 23/3/2004 lot 148. L'Invisible in a box. Christie's Cat. 12/6/1997 lot 595. A model 2 in a case. Christie's Cat. 16/8/1984 lot 220. Rear view of a no. 2. Christie's Cat 9/12/1991 lot 189. Case.

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