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Univex Mercury - 1938
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• Early half-frame circular-shutter 35mm US-made camera

• $25 in 1939 ($392 in 2010 dollars)

The Mercury is notable for the semi-circular housing that holds its large, circular shutter. It must have been a reliable design, because the one on mine seems to work just fine. Timing might be off, but at least it varies appropriately with the chosen shutter speed.

All that space on the front was a good place to put what's probably the largest depth-of-focus table on any camera.

In keeping the the frugality of 1938 buyers, the Mercury was a half-frame camera, as you can see in the photos below.

This is the original Model CC, which took standard 35mm film, but in cartridges marketed only by Universal Camera Corp., its manufacturer. The expense and inconvenience of that is likely one reason why my camera is in such good mechanical condition. Probably wasn't used much.

The original model was followed in a year or so by an improved model with a top shutter speed of 1/1500 instead of 1/1000, and then by the Mercury II, which took standard 35mm cartridges.

Even more interesting than the camera is the incredibly complex exposure calculator on the back.

Univex MercuryUnivex MercuryUnivex MercuryUnivex Mercury, showing circular shutter
Univex MercuryUnivex Mercury, showing exposure calculatorUnivex MercuryUnivex Mercury
Ad from Popular Photography, Sept. 1939

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