Snappa (box)

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The Snappa is a box camera for 4x6.5cm exposures, made by Thornton-Pickard in about 1913-16.[1] The body is wooden, with leatherette covering. It is constructed as two half-boxes, the front half sliding inside the rear, so that the camera is compact when not in use. The front plate has an 'ear' projecting at each side, with which to pull the front out; leaf-springs on the top and bottom of the front half-box pop out as they clear the rear box, latching the front out.

The camera is arranged to be used conveniently for horizontal pictures. When the front is pulled out, a small Watson-type reflex viewfinder is uncovered in the top; there is none for vertical orientation. The camera has an 'I' & 'B' shutter in front of the lens, and three aperture settings (fixed apertures in a sliding plate). The shutter release is a metal tab operated as a plunger; there is no attachment for a cable release, nor a tripod bush.

Metal single plate holders or film-packs slide into rails at the back of the camera. A ground-glass screen was offered with the camera, at extra cost.[2]

A patent number is printed on the front plate ('Pat No. 26186, 11'; that is British Patent 26186 of the year 1911). The notes on the example cited, sold by Christie's,[2] state that this patent was 'not proceeded with' but subsumed within another patent (12607, also filed in 1911) describing a better-made camera, the Limit. The patent descibes the principle of collapsing the lens-tube into the body for compactness, and how the shutter-release lever only connects with the shutter when the tube is fully extended, so exposures cannot be made when it is collapsed.[3]


  1. Snappa at Redbellows
  2. 2.0 2.1 Snappa with plate holders, sold at Christie's in December 2002 (one picture)
  3. British Patent 12607 of 1911, Improvements in Photographic Cameras and Lenses therefor, filed May 1911 and granted May 1912 to the Thornton-Pickard company, Arthur Gray Pickard and Richard Hesketh, including the provisional specification of patent application 28186 of November 1911. The patent describes a camera with the lens on a collapsible lens tube in two or more sections. Diagrams show the camera with either a focal-plane roller shutter or a two-leaf shutter at the back of the lens. In the latter case, a pin projecting from the shutter mechanism engages with the shutter-release lever when the lens-tube is extended. At Espacenet, the patent search facility of the European Patent Office.


  • Snappa sold by Breker in Cologne in March 2015 (listing is at the LiveAuctioneers site).
  • Snappa with ground-glass screen and one plate holder, in kodakcollector Charlie's Flickr stream.