In 1886 C. P. Stirn bought the rights to make a unique kind of vest pocket camera that was invented by Robert D. Gray and first produced by Western Electric Co. in New York. Rudolf Stirn lived in the German capital Berlin where he manufactured vest cameras for his brother C. P. Stirn. From 1886 to 1888 15,000 examples of their Concealed Vest Camera were sold. The camera had to be loaded with a round film plate, 14 cm or 17cm in diameter. The round brass body with the exposure dial (with or without clock hand) and the funnel type lens barrel gave it an unique appearance. Two main types were made, one for making four 6cm wide round exposures on a round film plate with a diameter of 17cm, the other with smaller lens funnel, for making six 4cm wide round exposures on a round plate with a diameter of 14cm. This camera type fits not only in a vest pocket, it can be hidden in it so that the narrow lens opening looks through the vest pocket's buttonhole. Thus the camera got its popular type name "buttonhole camera", but also detective camera, spy camera, and last not least vest pocket camera. The cameras were marketed in the U.S. and Canada by Stirn & Lyon in New York.



  • Auer, Martin: 150 ans d'appareils photographiques