I have recently bought a nineteenth century shutter made for early wood and brass cameras. It was made by F. W Branson and was called the “Phoenix”.

The shutter was patented in 1884 and was a combined drop and flap shutter. This meant that the light sensitive plate could be exposed either by simply raising a flap to allow light to go through the lens or by using a brass knob with internal spring. The process was speeded up by the use of a rubber band.

The shutter was sold under several trade names.

The earliest cameras did not have shutters. Light was allowed to go through the lens simply by removing a lens cap or cover and then replacing it after the required amount of time. At first exposures were very long and could be measured in minutes.

Later, the use of more sensitive plates allowed much faster exposure times and shutters started to be used. They developed rapidly.

Early shutters fitted over the camera lens.