PRIVATE-EYE VINTAGE GEAR!
THE PETAL CAMERA


The Petal Camera was the spy camera from the 1940's horded by American private eyes and sold for ten dollars (US). That might seem reallly cheap by today's standards but ten bucks was a lot of greenbacks back then. In fact, that was almost a week's pay. The Petal Camera is a tiny, round camera about the size of a US quarter. It has a fixed-focus 12mm (f5.6) lens. Speeds could be set at B and I and it produced six, 6mm circular images on a 25mm film disc in a special cassette. The Petal is so small, in fact, that it is listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as being the smallest camera ever produced. To advance the film, the back is rotated until a number engraved around its circumference aligns with a red coloured dot. The cylindrical tube mounted on top of the camera is the eye-level optical viewfinder.

 

The camera was sold in a wooden box and had a red ribbon looped though the chain eye next to the view finder. The small polished leather case has a button clip. A film disc cutter was also sold for the camera. If you were a private-eye back then and had one, you were considered quite successful.

Today, a Petal Camera is good condition to a collector with the box is worth from $2,000 to $5000 depending on the model. The rarest ones where the ones made in occupied Japan in the 1940's which is what the above is.