Great British Cameras:

Purma Special


  • filters
  • lens hood
  • close-up lenses
  • cases



The Purma Special was first presented to the world in the Amateur Photographer announcement of 2nd June 1937 "The Purma Special is a fixed focus snapshot camera of unconventional design".

The "unconventional design" centered around the unique focal plane shutter designed by the companies co-founder Alfred Croger Mayo. There are three shutter speeds slow (1/25th sec), medium (1/150th sec) and fast (1/450th sec). These speeds were selected by the user by holding the camera either horizontally (medium) with the wind-on wheel at the 6 0'clock postion (fast) or 12 o'clock position (slow). Rotating the camera selected the width of the shutter slit by means of an ingenious pivoting weight attached to the shutter blades and also determined whether the movement of the shutter slit was determined by the strength of the spring alone (medium), the spring in oppostion to the weight (slow) or the spring assisted by the weight (fast).

Another feature which contributed to the camera being "unconventional" was also a genuine first for any prodcution camera. The Purma Special made use of the first plastic lens in the viewfinder (and not the taking lens as is sometimes claimed).