Oliver G Pike


Oliver Pike acquired his first camera when he was 12 years old.  It was made of cardboard and it came complete with a wobbly tripod and plates.  He soon moved to a better camera, but there was nothing available that fitted his exact requirements - principally silent operation and the ability to take big telephoto lenses and hold them steady - so he designed and built his own, which he called the "Birdland" camera. 

Birdland Camera Advert

Advertisement for the Birdland Camera, circa 1912

Pike's camera design was manufactured and sold by Sanders and Crowhurst of London, and later James A. Sinclair & Co.  Oliver Pike used his own Birdland camera for forty years or more.

These early cameras took photos on to glass plates which were usually inserted into wooden slides and then into the camera. Unused glass plate negatives had to be handled in the dark; they were usually inserted into the slides in a darkroom or using a light-tight bag with arm-holes. Some slides held only one glass plate, some took two, back-to-back.

Each time a photograph was taken, the slide had to be removed and either replaced or reversed. This is why Oliver Pike preferred to use a hide, rather than a remote control shutter release.

Oliver Pike's own Birdland camera took "quarter plates", i.e. these were a quarter of the size of a "full plate". A quarter plate is about 4.25 x 3.25 inches in size. The camera advertised here took the larger 5 x 4 inch size plates.