England 1937 – Compact – 127 film – Rare.
Some designs are so unique that they can only be British. The Purma Special completely falls into that category.
Created by artist Tom Purvis, and inventor Alfred Croger Mayo, the Purma Special (amalgam of PURvis and MAyo) is a one of a kind camera that was advertised as “the camera that’s years ahead”.
Everything in this camera is unique, almost eccentric, starting from its distinctive diamond shape with a retractable objective protruding from its front. It is entirely built in bakelite, including the lens cap that you use to push the objective back in the body of the camera. The shutter button lies in a hidden depression on the top of the camera leaving the upper design smooth and clean.
Operating the camera is even more creative since to cock the shutter one needs to flip the little toggle on top of the objective and tilt the camera left or right to set the exposure time. This latter innovation is due to Mayos patent of a gravity operated shutter where an internal brass piece would move according to the camera’s angle and change the distance between the shutter curtains.
The Purma Special is an absolute oddball camera, the brainchild of two very creative minds that wanted to bring something definitely new and different. It’s an amazing collectible.