Early French camera smashes estimate

An early French camera bought at an antiques fair for £60 ($81) has sold for a massive £20,000 ($27,156) at auction.

The result was the surprise highlight of a recent sale at Lacy, Scott & Knight Auctioneers in Bury St Edmunds, UK.

French sub camera

The camera even came with its original chemical bottles 

The lot is a rare Chambre Automatique De Bertsch, designed by Auguste Adolphe Bertsch in the early 1860s.

It was the world’s first sub-miniature camera. This means it takes particularly small film plates, making it easier for photographers in the field to handle.

It’s also one of the earliest automatic cameras.

Paul Laidlaw, an expert on Antiques Roadshow, was the lucky seller.

He told the East Anglian Daily Times: “Everyone’s looking for the Ming vase amongst the dreary Victorian Willow pattern dinnerware, or the Stradivarius amongst the old ex-school violins. In this instance, I identified what had been clearly overlooked by all who’d come before me...

 “At the time I suggested it was an extremely early sub-miniature camera of circa 1861.

“What I didn’t realise is that it’s considered the first sub-miniature camera...

“Post filming I did a little research and immediately realised I’d bought something spectacularly rare, however, I couldn’t find records of any examples having been sold.

“I kid you not, I didn’t know whether it would sell for £2000 or £100,000 - and neither did the auctioneer - though I considered either to be possible.”

Please sign up to our free newsletter to receive exciting news about antique auctions.

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock