Bee - Antique and Vintage Cameras

Bee

1902

Early version

Watkins Meter Co.

Hereford

England

Image of Bee

Meter Type:
Actinometer.

Calibration:
Plate speed: 1 - 500 Watkins. Shutter speed: 1/500 - 130. Aperture: f4 - f90.

Attributes:
Actinometer value: 2 - 130.

Identification:
Two comparison tints, rounded case, shadow to name. No reference in instructions to Queen Bee which appeared in 1903.

With:
Instructions, n.d. Spare papers. Steadfast disc refills (price 6d).

Early version

Meter Type:
Actinometer.

Calibration:
Plate speed: 1 - 500 Watkins. Shutter speed: 1/500 - 130. Aperture: f4 - f90.

Attributes:
Actinometer value: 2 - 130.

Identification:
Two comparison tints, rounded case, shadow to name. Price on box 2/6.

With:
Instructions, 7th edition. Short instructions. Speed List (29 Apr 1912, 20th year of issue, price 1d). Spare papers. Disc refills in tin (price 6d). Box.

Late version

1913

Meter Type:
Actinometer.

Calibration:
Plate speed: 1 - 500 Watkins. Shutter speed: 1/500 - 130. Aperture: f4 - f90.

Attributes:
Actinometer value: 2 - 130.

Identification:
One comparison tint, case with ridge, shadow to name.

With:
Disc refills (price 9d).

Late version

Image of

Meter Type:
Actinometer.

Calibration:
Plate speed: 1 - 500 Watkins. Shutter speed: 1/500 - 130. Aperture: f4 - f90.

Attributes:
Actinometer value: 2 - 130.

Identification:
One comparison tint, case with ridge, no shadow to name. Price on box 4/6.

With:
Instructions, 9th edition. Short instructions. Speed List (1 Mar 1918, 24th year of issue, price 1d). Box.

Late version

Meter Type:
Actinometer.

Calibration:
Plate speed: 1 - 500 Watkins. Shutter speed: 1/500 - 130. Aperture: f4 - f90.

Attributes:
Actinometer value: 2 - 130.

Identification:
One comparison tint, case with ridge, no shadow to name. Price on box 5/-.

With:
Instructions, 11th edition. Short instructions. Speed List (15 Jun 1920, 25th year of issue, price 3d). Disc refills in tin (price 9d). Box, marked new edition.

Late version

Meter Type:
Actinometer.

Calibration:
Plate speed: 1 - 500 Watkins. Shutter speed: 1/500 - 130. Aperture: f4 - f90.

Attributes:
Actinometer value: 2 - 130.

Identification:
One comparison tint, case with ridge, no shadow to name. Price on box 5/-.

With:
Instructions, 12th edition. Short instructions. Speed List (27 Jun 1923, 31st year of issue, price 3d). Box.

Late version

Image of

Meter Type:
Actinometer.

Calibration:
Plate speed: 1 - 500 Watkins. Shutter speed: 1/500 - 130. Aperture: f4 - f90.

Attributes:
Actinometer value: 2 - 130.

Identification:
One comparison tint, case with ridge, no shadow to name. Price on box 5/-.

With:
Instructions, 13th edition. Short instructions. Speed Card (4 Mar 1925, 33rd year of issue, price 3d). Spare papers. Box.

Late version, US dial

Meter Type:
Actinometer.

Calibration:
Plate speed: 1 - 500 Watkins. Shutter speed: 1/500 - 130. Aperture: 2 - 256.

Attributes:
Actinometer value: 2 - 130.

Identification:
One comparison tint, case with ridge, no shadow to name. Price on box 3/6.

With:
Instructions, 9th edition. Short instructions. Speed Card (18 Sep 1917, 24th year of issue, price 1d). Box.

Late version, Blue dial

Image of

Meter Type:
Actinometer.

Calibration:
Plate speed: 1 - 500 Watkins. Shutter speed: 1/500 - 130. Aperture: 4 - 256.

Attributes:
Actinometer value: 2 - 130.

Identification:
One comparison tint, case with ridge, no shadow to name.

Late version

c. 1931

W.H. McKaig

Hereford

England

Image of

Meter Type:
Actinometer.

Calibration:
Plate speed: 1 - 500 Watkins. Shutter speed: 1/500 - 130. Aperture: f4 - f90.

Attributes:
Actinometer value: 2 - 130.

Identification:
One comparison tint, case with ridge, no shadow to name. Price on box 5/-.

With:
Instructions, 18th edition. Short instructions. Leaflet on celluloid calculator. Speed Card (19 Mar 1936, 42nd year of issue, price 3d). Box.

Watkins Speed List

1902

Watkins Meter Co.

Hereford

England

The Speed List, earlier called Plate Numbers and later called Speed Card, contained the speed of plates as measured by Watkins. It was issued regularly and was available on subscription.
Plate Numbers, 18 Jan 1908, price 1d.
Plate Numbers, 2 Mar 1908, price 1d.
Speed List, 19 Aug 1908, 16th year of issue, price 1d.
Speed List, 15 Nov 1922, 30th year of issue, price 3d.
Speed Card, Feb 20 1928, 36th year of issue, price 3d.
Speed Card, 15 Nov 1928, 36th year of issue, price 3d.
Plattern Nummern, n.d., German text, blue.
Notes & Addenda, n.d.

A very popular tint meter similar to the earlier Wynne meter. In use the aperture is set against the plate speed (left hand side of meter); the light value (right hand side of inner dial) as given by the sensitive paper then points to the exposure time. The exposure values extend around the whole of the outer scale, whole values are on the right and fractions of a second on the left where the same values as the plate speeds are utilised.

Versions
Several minor variations of the Bee exist:
  • Originally two comparison tints were used, around 1910 there was a change to a single tint.
  • In 1913 the case was made thinner and a ridge was formed around the side. The stamping of the figures was improved.
  • Originally the word BEE had a shadow, this was removed some time after 1913.

The meter could be equipped with different and interchangeable dials:

  • Ordinary dial with f numbers.
  • US dial with Uniform System numbers.
  • Continental dial with f numbers on the continental scale, from c. 1922.
  • Special dial for cameras without f number markings.
  • Blue glass could be fitted instead of clear, from c. 1908.

As well as the single or double tint other types were available:

  • Extra size.
  • Bulls-eye.
  • 1/4 tint c. 1910.
  • 1/16 tint c. 1905.
  • Triple tint. Comprising whole, 1/4 and 1/16 tints.
The double tint was available to order after the introduction of the single tint.

From c. 1908 - c. 1913 the Bee was available with a small compass in the back. Stop watch meters were also produced. In later years a celluloid calculator was available (price 2/-) enabling the Bee to be used with higher speed plates and lenses.

Price variations
  • 1902 meter 2/6 refills 7d.
  • 1908 meter 2/6 refills 6d.
  • Dec 1913 meter 3/6 refills 6d.
  • Nov 1917 meter 4/6 refills 6d.
  • Nov 1919 meter 5/- refills 9d.
  • n.d. refills 10d.
  • c. 1924 refills 11d.

Similar Watkins meters
Other similar meters were produced by Watkins, some of which had dials interchangeable with the Bee (marked with an * in the table below):
  • Queen Bee 1903.
  • Autochrome 1908 - 1913 *.
  • Focal Plane 1909, gave faster shutter speeds.
  • Indoor c. 1910, used a lighter 1/16 tint *.
  • Colour Plate 1913 *.
  • Kinematograph 1913.
  • Snapshot c. 1915.
  • Studio 1915, used a lighter 1/4 tint *.
  • Fall 1923, for roll-film cameras.
  • Forko 1923, for Kodak cameras.
  • Small Cine c. 1925.

References & Notes:
BP 27822/1902. BJA 1904, p. 916. BJA 1905, p. 314. BJA 1909, pp. 387, 733, 752. BJA 1910, p.24. BJA 1912, p. 23. BJA 1913, p. 22. BJA 1914, p. 22. BJA 1916, p. 14. BJA 1917, p. 8. BJA 1918, p. 96. BJA 1920, p. 104. BJA 1921, p. 108. BJA 1923, p. 100. BJA 1924, p. 86. BJA 1925, p. 74. BJA 1926, p. 70. BJA 1928, p. 64. Watkins Manual 1911.


Company Details:

Watkins Meter Co.

Actinometers

Stanley Actinometer

Watkins

Standard, Junior

Watch Type
Dial Meter

Bee

Queen Bee

Autochrome, Colour, Indoor
Studio, Snipe

Focal Plane, Fall, Snapshot
Kinematograph, Small Cine
Filmo

Wynne

Infallible, Snapshot

Silver Infallible, Silver Gem

Hunter Meter

Other

Adams Meters

Imperial Exposure Meter

Le Chronopose Exact
Haka Expometer
Universal

Chronoscope PAP


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