The camera was designed by Albert Posso (1854-1932) for the French firm Enjalbert in the late 19th-century. It is thought that only 14 cameras were made with fewer than six surviving examples recorded. Of those left, only one other is thought to be a private collection, the rest being in museums across the USA, Europe and Asia.
Albert Posso, was a French Alsacian who worked as a Gunsmith in Paris during the siege of 1870-71, and when Alsace was lost to the Germans shortly afterwards, he became a German National and completed his military service as a Senior Gunsmith. On his return to France in 1877, Posso was employed by the French photographic firm Enjalbert expressly to design a camera which looked like a gun. Enjalbert had no experience of gun work and it was almost certainly Possos design skills that earned him the job. The cameras appearance owes everything to his skill and expertise, producing one of the most effective and iconic disguised cameras.
Disguised and subminiature cameras were popular from the 1880s when faster plates and films, new metals and manufacturing techniques allowed cameras to be made smaller and in non-traditional shapes. From the 1880s to 1914 cameras were frequently disguised as other objects so that the photographer could take photographs without being observed or for novelty purposes. True spy cameras such as the Minox (also included in this sale) appeared from the late 1930s onwards and were designed for espionage.
This sale offers a superb collection of subminiature cameras (estimates from 80 to 60,000) and other disguised cameras include those in the form of pens, watches, vanity compacts, cigarette lighters, binoculars, matchboxes and truly tiny cameras.