Edbar/E.Elliott Ltd

The Edbar VP Twin (so called because it took two photo's per frame on vp film) was produced by E.Elliott Ltd of Birmingham and marketed by the American company Edbar. Is is perhaps the most basic camera ever produced consisting of simply a lens (f/12.5), basic shutter, and two red windows on the back to allow you to correctly wind on the half frame images. Rather than a viewfinder, there's a little flip up piece of wire to look through - even the basic boxes which used a wire viewfinder gave you TWO wire loops, so you at least had some idea what you where photographing.

Just in case the concept of pressing the camera's single (flip-flop) shutter is too complex for you to follow the camera comes with a 2-sided instruction sheet, which you can now download (side 1 side 2).

The common story reguarding this camera is that it was sold in Woolworths, as a kit of parts - 6 old pence for each bit. However it can occasionally be found in its original box with no signs of a "pic'n'mix'" background. If there was a Woolies version then the original packaging would be pretty distinctive. I was somewhat sceptical of this "urban legend". However Dave Garner has researched the subject thoroughly and confirms it's authenticity:

"The VP Twin/Woolworth's legend is absolutely true. I have confirmed this both with the Woolworth's archivist, the daughter (and ex company board member) of Edwin Elliott and I have a box on which a label is stuck giving the price of each component part - I hope that's enough! I wrote an article for PCCGB last year, in which I show that very label. In fact, you are almost right in that although the camera was advertised in 3 parts (to keep below the Woolworth's price limit of 6d) it was invariably sold as a whole camera. To stand a chance of finding the label, you need to find an early pre-war red box, not the green and yellow post-war version which is often seen.

The three parts; front, back and lens assembly were just push fit so they could be easily assembled, but afer a while the manufacturer got complaints about poor picture quality and it was found that the lens mount needed to be fastened to the front of the camera to stop it coming loose and so ruining the focus. So the camera was supplied to each store in bulk ready assembled by the manufacturer, but with one camera in parts so that if anyone did ask they could have a 'sixpennyworth'!"

While the regular black version (with or without the face plate, declaring "bloomed Bolco lens"! - British Optical Company a subsiduary of E Elliot) isn't worth much more now that it was then, the coloured versions are rather collectable.

While not exactly a serious camera, the VP Twin has a lot of appeal - after all if you're going back to basics, you can't get much more basic than this. It's also tiny - little bigger than the modern digital cameras designed to go on key rings. Combined with the image quality (exactly what you'd expect!), this is a must have for any toy camera fan.

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