Go up a levelIntroduction and contents

introduction | Merlin black | Merlin blue | Merlin green | Merlin red | ERAC

In 1936 the English firm, United Optical Instruments, 162 High Street, Southend-on-Sea, Essex marketed the Merlin, a cast metal novelty camera fastened together with two screws. It is one of the strongest cameras every made, easily tough enough to withstand the weight of a full-grown man although now it equally likely to fracture in your hand.

The Merlin was sold in black, blue, green and red in a crackle finish enamel.

It used a special 20mm roll film taking 20 exposures 18x18 mm. It had a single speed shutter and a f/16 lens.

It has a collapsible sports finder, a polished metal winding knob and an instantaneous shutter. 

Some cameras have an orange transfer on the underside that gives the camera name. This is usually well worn or missing leaving a fait trace of it's outline.

A later version of has a lock for the back of the camera.

In 1937 Steward patented  a pistol shaped device which he introduced on the market the following years as the Erac Automatic Pistol Camera. The Erac Selling Company of London was infact based in Southend-on-Sea. This is a simple bakelite box in the shape of a snub-nosed pistol. The two halves of the case are held together with a single large screw. The large trigger-ratchet mechanism, fired the shutter and also advanced the film; when it worked.

The box declared "ERAC - The camera which is always ready, the only real snapshot camera in the world, no film winding, just pull the trigger, the camera does the rest."

Go up a level Last updated 23rd May 2005