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Art Deco Cameras

Monarch Pickwik


Monarch Pickwik
Monarch Pickwik
Monarch Pickwik Back
Back with space for spare roll of film
Manufacturer:Monarch Co.
Body Type:Solid Body
Film Type:127
Film Width:46mm
ImageSize:1⅝ x 1¼ "
No. of Images:16
Lens Type:Meniscus
Focus Type:Fixed
Focal Length:50mm
Focal Range:6ft - inf.
Aperture Type:Fixed
Shutter Type : Guillotine type
Shutter Speeds:T & I*(1/100s)
Size (w x h x d):133 x 70 x 56 mm
* Measured on this camera

Art Deco Credentials

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Noteworthy: Worth giving special attention


The Pickwik camera was sold by the Monarch Procucts Company of Chicago from about 1947, using a 1938 design by Jack Galter. It was an inexpensive candid type camera constructed of heavily molded Bakelite with a decorative metal faceplate indicating the model name. The Art Deco style is shown by the stepped, curvilinear shape of the Bakelite body.

It is a viewfinder camera and is fitted with a Graf meniscus 50mm lens and instantaneous & time shutter. The time function operates as 'Bulb'. This camera is capable of capturing sixteen half frame exposures (3 x 4 cm) on 127 film. A nice feature of this camera is the separate compartment for storing another film.

Dick Tracy
Dick Tracy

Similar cameras were sold as the Dick Tracy(Seymore Co.), Carlton(Utility Co.), Falcon Miniature(Utility Co.), Photo Master (Monarch) , Beauta Miniature and others. A surprising number of simple plastic cameras seem to have originated from Chicago and New York. When compared closely, a number of these models (ostensibly coming from different manufacturers) have body styles which look practically identical. It seems quite clear that many of the Chicago/New York camera models emerged from exactly the same set of moulds, casting doubt on the supposed separate identities of their makers. Shown here is the almost identical Seymore Dick Tracy from Chicago.

How to Use

Find the manual for the similar Falcon Miniature here. Falcon Miniature Manual

This camera takes 127 film which is still available from select outlets - search for 'Rera Pan 100-127' which is a black & white film. For those photographers in the UK, try Nick & Trick photographic services. If you want to use a particular type of film which is not available commercially, then you can cut your own 127 film from any 120 film. See my page on 'How to cut 127 film from 120 film'.

The two red windows are used to get 16 exposures from 127 film. The film is advanced until a number appears in the first window and an image is taken. Then the film is advanced until the same number appears in the second window. Then it's back to the first window for the next number. Don't forget to cover the windows with black tape except when advancing the film in low light. Modern film is sensitive to red light.

This camera supports Timed mode and Instant with a speed of about 1/100 sec. It has a single aperture settings of f/11. With a shutter speed of only 1/100 sec, make sure you brace the camera against your body or something solid and press the shutter smoothly to avoid camera shake.

If you don't want to bother with an exposure meter, follow the guide shown. It is based on the 'Sunny 16' rule. Film is so forgiving and will produce acceptable results even when over-exposed by 2 or 3 stops or under-exposed by 1 stop.

The table assumes that the sun is at least 30 degrees above the horizon - that's 10am - 5pm on a summers day in the UK.

Remember that the exposure guide in the manual may not be helpful as it is based on the use of old film with a low ISO value.

So, on a nice sunny day, it's simplicity itself. Just load film and snap away.

Using ISO 100/125 film - shutter speed 1/100s

Weather ConditionsShadow DetailApertureExposure
with sharp edges
f/11+2 Stops
SunnyDistinctf/11+1 Stops
Slight OvercastSoft around edgesf/11Good
OvercastBarely visiblef/11-1 Stops
Heavy OvercastNonef/11-2 Stops
Not Acceptable
Open Shade
Nonef/11-3 Stops
Not Acceptable