Le Furet

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Le Furet (French: the Ferret) is an early camera for 24×37.5 mm pictures on 35 mm film, in 25-exposure spools,[1] made in about 1923 in Paris.[2] McKeown lists the maker as E. Guerin & Compagnie; two examples seen at Westlicht are stamped E. Guerin, C. Pingault & Compagnie.[3][4][5]

The camera is compact, measuring 86×48×46 mm.[1] It has a metal body, which in early cameras is painted; later examples have leather covering. The lens is mounted in a plated brass superstructure on the front. The arrangement of the lens and shutter varies between types:

  • An advertisement reproduced at Collection Appareils[1] refers to a single-speed model with an f/4.5 Hermagis lens (i.e. it has a simple 'I' and 'B' shutter; this one is illustrated in the advertisement, and is also the one pictured in McKeown[2]);
  • The same advertisement refers to a three-speed model.

The advertisement states that the camera is fixed-focus, but that unscrewing the lens allows focusing to below 2.5 metres.[1]

  • A three-speed camera, with a 40 mm f/4.5 Berthiot Flor lens, was sold by Christies in 2002.[6] Another, with leather covering, is shown at Westlicht,[3] with an estimated date of 1923, but has different styling to the camera shown in the advertisement, especially the machined keys, so may be a later model.
  • Another example at Westlicht has a 40 mm f/3.5 Hermagis Anastigmat Lynx lens, in a Compur shutter with speeds 1 - 1/300 second, plus 'B'. This has helical unit focusing, scaled to 0.75 metre.[4]

In all models, there is a folding reverse-Galilean viewfinder on the top, with cross-hairs in the front glass. There is a frame counter in the base of the camera. These features are the subjects of French, British and US patents (all essentially registering the same claims).[7] The patents mention especially that the folding finder and the frame counter use space within the outline of the body, so keeping it compact and without external projections. The patents also describe the way the film is held in the camera. The film is on spools on the supply and uptake sides, loaded into removable tubes, open at one end and slotted to allow the passage of the film (essentially a 35 mm cassette, with one end open; so these would not be daylight-loading). These tubes fit closely into similar ones which are a permanent part of the body. Comparing the drawings in the British patent to the one illustrated in McKeown and at Collection Appareils,[1][2] it seems that the winding knobs at each end of the camera are part of these removable magazines.


Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Advertisement for Le Furet, showing picture of single-speed model, at Collection Appareils.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). p372.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Le Furet with three-speed shutter, f/4.5 Berthiot Flor lens and leather covering, sold at Camera Auction 12, in November 2007, by Westlicht Photographica Auction (now Leitz Photographica Auction).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Le Furet from about 1932 with Compur shutter (described as the 3rd type), with Hermagis 40 mm f/3.5 (aperture scaled on the shutter only to f/6.3, so some parts, or the whole shutter have been exchanged); a lot at Westlicht Camera Auction 20, in November 2011.
  5. The same camera again re-sold after restoration (brass parts repainted, and aperture control replaced), at Westlicht Camera Auction 26, on 22 November 2014.
  6. Le Furet with three-speed shutter and painted body, sold in February 2002 at Christie's in London.
  7. Patents relating to the camera, all at Espacenet, the patent search facility of the European Patent Office:
    • French Patent 570334, 1924, Appareil photographique, Emile Guerin; description of the main features of the camera, including how the film is housed and the frame counter; however, the drawings show the film advance as a bulky winding knob on the bottom.
    • US Patent 1707980, 1929, Film camera, Emile Guerin.
    • British Patent 232955, 1924, Improvements in or relating to photographic cameras, Emile Guerin.


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