What do spies of yesteryear have in common with the Fox Mulders, James Bonds and Veronica Mars' of today? A sincere love of gadgets. Bonhams recently auctioned off this tiny, "nickel plated, engine turned, hunter type pocket watch case," which once opened reveals an internally sprung six section telescopic lens tubes with internal meniscus lens and front mounted simple, hand turned, rotary shutter (i.e a camera).
The camera was reportedly made from 1887 and would be very inconvenient in use, but is tiny and conspicuous enough to fit right into a spy's collection. In fact, according to the auctioneer at Bonhams, the Lancaster Watch Camera was part of a lineup of forerunners for the ‘spy’ camera – a mechanism disguised as a different object. For the rest of the story and additional images,
While this conjures up tales of intrigue and scandal, word is the this particular device, which was auctioned off for £18,000 ($35,676) belonged to a cabinet maker. Then again, who says that cabinet maker wasn't secretly a private investigator?