Purma Special - Antique and Vintage Cameras

Purma Special


Purma Cameras Ltd



Image of Purma Special

f6.3, 2 " Beck Anastigmat. Fixed aperture.

Metal guillotine shutter near the focal plane comprising two metal plates that slide together across the film gate. Speeds 1/25, 1/150, 1/450. Spring powered, separate capping blade. Speeds varied by the position of brass cam/weight which changes the slit width by acting on the second (following) plate. The cam is free to rotate, the position of the camera determines the position of the cam and so the slit width.

Plastic body.

16, 1 " x 1 " exposures on 127 roll-film. Curved film plane.

Fixed 10 feet to infinity.

Direct-vision (lens/lens) view-finder.
Film advance indicated by two 'red' windows. Not coupled to shutter. The film advance windows are green plastic for panchromatic film or red for ortho. Cameras were supplied with both and could be interchanged by the user.


  • Lens cap. Interchangeable film advance windows in envelope.
  • Yellow filter No 1. Green filter, No 5.
  • Close-up lenses for: 18"; 3 ' to 5'; 5' to 7 '.
  • Lens hood in part of box. Leather case.
  • 'Purma Special. The All British Camera', instruction book.

Purma Special


Details as above.


  • Lens cap.
  • Close-up lens for: 3 ' to 5' in packet marked Portrait Attachment.

Purma Special


Image of Purma Special

Details as above.


  • Lens cap.
  • Orange filter No 3, in red box. Green filter, No 3, in red box. Dufay filter, in red box (filter mount only).
  • Close-up lenses for: 18", in red box; 3 ' to 5', in red box; 5' to 7 ', in red box.
  • Accessory case. Leather camera case.
  • Red box for camera. Red box for lens hood.
  • 'Purma Special. The All British Speed Camera', instruction book.

Purma Special

Coated lens


Image of Purma Special Coated lens

Details as above but with coated lens.


  • Lens cap. Case.
  • Yellow filter No 1. Light Green filter, No 5. Blue filer, No 4. Gold boxes.
  • Close-up lenses for: 18"; 24"; 3 ' to 5'; 5' to 7 '. Gold boxes.
  • Lens hood, in box. Red windows in packet.
  • Gold box for camera.

This is a streamlined plastic camera of unusual shape and design. It was priced at 50/- in 1938.

The shutter operates close to the focal plane. It consists of two metal plates which move in a small arc across the focal plane. On releasing the shutter the first plate starts to travel, the second plate has a weight attached to it which controls the aperture and the speed. The camera can be held horizontally or in two vertical positions. This causes the weight to be in a neutral position (horizontal), to be at the top of the camera and so speed its drop or the bottom of the camera and so work against the spring power as it is lifted. The weight is also a cam and causes the second plate to form a larger (weight at bottom) or smaller (weight at top) opening with the first plate. The two actions combine to give medium, fast and slow speeds.

The camera was produced for many years, advertisements claim that over 100,000 were produced. Around 1948 the lens was coated. The lens engraving differs in position between early and late models.

The camera was replaced by the less interesting Purma Plus.

Accessories for the Purma Special included: lens hood; filters (1 yellow, 2 orange, 4 blue, 5 green); six close-up lenses 18", 24", 32", 3 ' - 5', 5' - 7 ', 7 ' - 10'; and an enlarger producing 3 " x 4 " prints, this was added in 1949.

Original Purma patents were issued to A. C. Mayo of Richmond who was the designer of the camera. In the early 1940s Purma related patents were issued to Joseph Terrett and William Barton Wood of Sutton. GB430648 and GB445907 primarily cover the Purma Speed. GB473123 describes the Purma Special and refers to the older patents. The camera was distributed by R. F. Hunter.

References & Notes:
BP 430648/1933. BP 445907/1934. BP 473123/1936. BP 489960/1938. BP 489961/1938. BJA 1938, pp. 254, 651. BJA 1939, p. 638. BJA 1940, pp. 206, 405. BJA 1950, pp. 200, 413. BJA 1951, p. 428. Minit&Cine, 1939, p. 134.

Company Details:

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