World’s Greatest News Photographer

Mercury II Camera Advertisement from 1945.

Toronto. I was sent this add two days ago in an email form George Dunbar. Very appropriate with our talk in a few weeks on journalism and photography. The American Mercury II by the Universal Camera Company is depicted here.

Universal thought very highly of itself as this 1945 ad shows. The ad suggests family shots in time supersede any news photos (especially if a Mercury II is used).

In real life the camera was a massive aluminum cast instrument with a somewhat odd focal plane shutter – you had to set it before you wound the camera for the next shot. I saw some examples years ago that suggested the Mercury II was definitely NOT the camera of choice for a news (or family) photographer… The camera was big for a half-frame camera and had no rangefinder at all.

The ad emphasizes the war effort put into researching a quality lens design. The standard lens for this half-frame 35mm camera was called a Tricor f/2.7 or f/3.5. A more expensive Hexar f/2 could also be ordered. This camera was only marketed in 1945. Earlier versions  also used Wollensak f/3.5 lens (used by Leitz NY, too). The lenses were interchangeable.

In the full size version of the ad, I cut it in two and placed the two parts side by side.

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