Meagher Improved Kinnear - Antique and Vintage Cameras

Improved Kinnear


P. Meagher



Image of Improved Kinnear

f10, Dallmeyer Triple Achromat, Waterhouse stops. Sold by Watson. Serial no. 9114 (1865).

Spanish mahogany with brass binding and brass fittings, red leather bellows. Dovetail joints.

8" x 5" wet-collodion plates held in slides.

Bellows double extension. Focusing by worm screw which moves the inner frame carrying the front standard. Two positions for rear standard.

Tripod socket.

Swing back. Rising front.

Address on camera: Meagher. Farringdon Road. London. (1864 - 1865).


  • Waterhouse stops in Dallmeyer pouch, one is stamped with the serial number of the lens, two have 'x' and the other '3' stamped on them.
  • 1 wet-plate dark-slide with wire corners and trough. 3 double dark-slides (1 - 6). Focusing screen. Case.

Kinnear's design of 1857 relates to a camera with tapered bellows, which allowed the camera to fold up into a smaller space than those with square bellows.

Many of the better known manufacturers introduced 'Improved' models in the early 1860s. Meagher introduced his version called the Improved Portable in 1860, it was described at the Photographic Society meeting in October of that year. On the Meagher camera the body attached to the baseboard using curved slots to give a horizontal swing back movement. The lens was also able to tilt. The baseboard is detachable from the body, when not in use the baseboard fits onto the camera body resting on the front standard and forms a lid. The folded camera takes up little space and was ideal for field work.

A Mr. Simpson (probably G. Wharton Simpson) described the Meagher camera at the Meeting of the South London Photographic Society on 18 October 1860 and states that it was he who suggested the improvements.

This example has two focusing positions. One has the swing back arrangement and is for use with a lens having a back focus of around 8 ", the second position is nearer the lens. The lens is short for the 8" x 5" plate and focus cannot be pulled at the 'swing back' position. At the second position focus can be pulled, the range being infinity - 3 feet. The plate covered for landscape work would be 6" x 5".

The paper describing the Kinnear camera was read before the Photographic Society of Scotland on the 15 December 1857 and described in the Photographic Journal of February 1858, the original camera was made by Bell of Potterrow Edinburgh, the size was 12 " x 10 " and cost 4.

References & Notes:
BJP 1/11/1860, p. 315. Phot. News 19/11/1860, p. 291. Copeland Cat. 1885, p. 18. Cox, Cat. 1873, p. 10. Solomon Advertisement, 1863. James How/George Knight Cat. c. 1864, p. 15. Phot. Journal 21/12/1857, p. 116 Kinnear. Phot. Journal 22/2/1858, p. 165 Kinnear.

Further Information:
Photographica World no. 124 has a good article by Rob Niederman on Kinnear cameras and biographical details on C.G.H. Kinnear (d. 1894).
Information on the Wet Collodion Process.

Christie's Cat. 24/8/00 lot 334 - Ottewill & Collis. 3/10/96 lot 191 - Dallmeyer. 9/8/78 lot 338 - Dallmeyer. 18/12/96 lot 10 - Horne & Thornthwaite. 18/12/96 lot 11 - Rouch. 13/1/94 lot 262 - Meagher. 15/3/84 lot 74 - Ross. 18/8/83 lot 139 - Spicer. 19/8/82 lot 216 - Claudet & Houghton. 27/5/82 lot 311 - Bland. 13/7/72 - Newton. 21/1/76 lot 22 - Cox.

Company Details:


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Studio Stand