William Frederick Butcher established a pharmacy business in Blackheath in 1866. By the 1890s an interest in photography was developing to the more active supply of chemical and materials for photographic use. By the early 1890s the business was increasingly active as manufacturers and had a retail address in Regent Street, London. By 1895 W. Butcher & Son was advertising a range of photographic products under the Primus trademark. The firm moved to Camera House, Farringdon Avenue, London WC in 1904.
The Little Nipper was one of the firm's earliest cameras introduced in 1901 and was one of the firm's longest-lived products. Six months after it's launch the firm claimed to have sold 50,000, a second and third model had been introduced by 1902 and a rollfilm model in 1902. The camera had disappeared from Butcher's advertising and catalogues by the early 1900s but in their 1924 catalogue it had reappeared as 'the camera for boys and girls'. It was clearly targeted at children: 'The Little Nipper Camera is specially made for you. It is so cheap you buy it with your pocket money. It's not a toy - oh dear, no! It's a real camera that takes fine photographs there is everything you want for making pictures contained in an outfit'.
To encourage children The Little Nipper Times was produced every month to purchasers who returned a card to the company. Each issue featured camera tips and a prize competition for the best pictures. Butcher's claimed that many leading photographers had started their careers with a Little Nipper.
The camera survived the merger of Butcher's and Houghtons in 1926 but had disappeared from Houghton-Butcher catalogues from 1927.