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"
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
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.