Churchill Miniature Bakelite Camera by Monarch MFG Co., 1940s

Churchill Camera

Monarch MFG Co. / Utility MFG Co. / Spartus Corp., 711-15 W. Lake St., Chicago, IL

The Churchill mini-cam is merely one of dozens of brand names slapped on the lens plates of this and other similar 1940s bakelite molds. Known as the “Chicago Cluster,” the cameras patented and mass-produced by Jack Galter at his 711 W. Lake Street factory were famously marketed under numerous brand AND manufacturer names. Monarch MFG Co. (also sometimes spelled Monarck) was one of the earliest company identities Galter used before embracing “Spartus,” and it’s usually associated with the Churchill camera brand—although the one in our collection includes no manufacturer name at all.

Monarch’s line of cheap “candid type” cameras were often given brand names intended to send a subliminal message of reputability to would-be customers. This included flat-out thieving names of leading companies from other industries (Elgin, Underwood, Remington), and sometimes, it seems, using the name of a respected British politician. This camera was sold during the World War II era, after all, so it seems possible that Winston was indeed the motivation.

You can get the complete story on Jack Galter and the tangled but fascinating Monarch / Spartus Corp. web onour main Spartus Camera Corp. history page.


The Churchill is one of many “Chicago Cluster” cameras in our museum collection:

One thought on “Churchill Miniature Bakelite Camera by Monarch MFG Co., 1940s

  1. Hi Andrew. I am an amateur photographer so I like cameras. I was at an estate sale today and I picked up an old camera that I have never seen before. It is called a “Churchill” (which I have learned was made by Monarch) but what is different is that it is in the vertical format instead of the horizontal as is pretty much all I’ve been able to find. It is black, has a “Graf Lens, 50mm,” has 2 modes; “Inst. and Time,” and was “Made is U.S.A.” If appears to be fully functional with no damage, just dusty. No owner’s manual. The viewfinder is at the top and has an aluminum cover that you pull open and look down similar to TLR cameras. Any ideas on how old this might be and what it might be worth? Thanks! Norm Ellis

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