In the 1920s and 1930s, years before the invention of “Walkmans” and CD’s, “camera” gramophones were the ultimate in portable gramophones.
Although they were not pocket size, by the standards of the day, they were extremely small, and could be carried over the shoulder in the canvas or leather case with which they were supplied. In many cases, the records must have weighed more than the machine !!
They were so called because, when folded, they resembled a camera.
The Swiss-made Mikiphone was patented by the Vadász brothers in 1924 and resembles a large pocket watch when folded. The arrangement of the packing is ingenious with the turntable having holes to accept parts of the sound box whose diaphragm is not on the usual side. The resonator, which is used in place of a horn, is in two pieces which fit concave to concave sides. A spring clamp is used to hold the record securely on the small turntable.
A much later machine, dating from the 1960s, was the Wondergram, a battery powered gramophone capable of playing both 33 and 45 RPM records.
This was claimed to be “The world’s smallest record player”
Two main types are found, these being a box style (as in the Peter Pan) and a long flat machine of which the Excelda is the most common.
They collapse in ingenious ways, and most will play 12 inch records.
In all examples the “turntable” is a basic affair—a hub and four spokes, or a tiny disc to which the record is clamped to maintain adhesion.
As you might expect, the sound quality is not wonderful !
The Excelda ‘Camera’ Gramophone
The Excelda gramophone in its folded position
A ‘Peter Pan’ camera gramophone
The Peter Pan machine ready to play
A ‘Peter Pan’ with bellows horn
A ‘Peter Pan’ with telescopic horn