Apr 30, 2012

5 Eastman Plate camera continued

Although I have been very busy working in the garden and laying a stone path from the house to the street, I have found some time to clean and polish my newest addition, the No. 5 Eastman Plate camera. The 10 blades of the iris diaphragm were all in a mess, so I took the shutter apart to see what I could make of it. The mechanism seemed simple enough: ten paper thin blades with a notch of a millimeter on each end. Each notch had to fit into a hole in a ring around the lens. Well, it wasn't as simple as it looked and it took me some time to find a way to keep the damned things in place long enough to assemble the top plate. Finally I put a piece of painters tape under the opening, so the ten blades would stick to it. After some experimenting this worked well. All 20 notches stayed in their hole and the diaphragm worked as smooth as 109 years ago.

In the pic are the two parts of the shutter housing. On the left is the shutter and on the right is the iris diaphragm. What you see is the top plate. Under it are the ten blades. The star in the center is the construction where the ten notches on one end of the blades move up and down when the lever (2 o'clock position on the photo) is moved to open or close the diaphragm.

The re-enforcing of the bellows worked well. All the tears are mended and after cleaning, touching up with some oxblood colored shoe polish (the smallest amount possible!) and treatment with colorless Tana leather cream, the bellows looks as good as new.
The nickel fittings were all very dirty, but polishing improved them a lot. The nickel plating is of good quality, so I had not to be afraid to rub it off down to the brass. Still there is some cleaning to do before I can put all parts together again. Maybe next weekend I can show the result of all the TLC I gave this instrument.

Apr 22, 2012

No. 5 Eastman Plate camera

The rare No. 5 Eastman Plate camera I have bought arrived during the past week and I can say that I am not disappointed. It is dirty and some folds of the bellows just behind the lens panel are torn, but it can be made into a fine looking instrument again.
To be able to do so I have taken it apart. All the tiny screws and parts were put in glass jars or small boxes, with a note from what part they were taken.
The bellows will be the most difficult and time consuming to restore. First I thought to just cut off the first fold that is torn and glue the second fold to the wooden frame that holds the lens. Probably nobody would notice. But when I had taken the instrument apart I decided to mend the torn folds. I have done that before with good result, so I should be able to do it again.
The leather on the outside of the camera is dry and scuffed, but a treatment with Venetian Cream usually does miracles with leather. This afternoon I applied a coating of VC and now it is drying. Then I am going to treat the leather with colorless Tana shoe cream to feed it. After a gentle buffing the leather should look at least 100 years younger.

I have been on the hunt for a wooden Boston Bull's-Eye for some time, and now I found one and got it for a very reasonable amount of $$. The camera is missing the handle, but that one I can replace. All the other parts are present, like the brass presure plate in the back that is often gone. There is a bit of wear to the wood of the front top. I will treat that with a furniture touch up pen. The same goes for the scratch on the front.  The camera is still on its way from Texas to the Netherlands, but here's the pic from the auction.

Apr 8, 2012

A rare No. 5 Eastman Plate camera & some more Bull's-Eye

Eastman Kodak made three plate cameras during 1902-1904 that were called No. 3, No 4 and No. 5 Eastman Plate. As always the number in the name of Kodak models designates the size of the negative. No. 3 = 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 inch, No. 4 = 4 x 5 inch and No. 5 = 5 x 7 inch.
All three cameras were not made in very large numbers, the No 5 being the rarest with only 500 produced. So when I found a No. 5 on eBay I tried my luck. The instrument needs a good amount of TLC and I guess that is why I got it for a fair price ;-)

The camera is still on its way from Florida to the Netherlands. I hope it arrives soon, so I will see how much tender loving care (Venetian Cream, Tana leather cream and metal polish) it really needs. Anyway, this is a rare high quality instrument and I'm glad I bought it.

In the past weeks there have been some interesting items at eBay. First there is a No. 3 Combination Hawk-Eye (on the right), made by Blair around 1904. It is a rare instrument that was designed to use roll film and also allow focusing on a ground glass. That is a bit of a strange combination because you have to move the film out of the way to insert a ground glass. There are several solutions and this camera is one of them. It sold for US $ 241 at eBay, not too much if you consider that it is in a nice condition and also quite rare.

Another combination camera is for sale right now (on the left). It is a No. 8 Folding Buckeye from the same period. The camera is not in a good shape and needs restoration. Starting price is $ 199, no bids yet and 4 days to go.

The No. 4 Screen Focus Kodak was Eastman's answer to the combi question. See mine here.

A rather strange item that was for sale is a 4 x 5 plate back for a No. 5 Cartridge Kodak. This camera takes 5 x 7 inch pics, so a plate back for 4 x 5 inch is not what you would expect. I thought there could be a mistake in the description, but after some mails there is no question about it, this is a 4 x 5 back for a No 5 Cartridge Kodak. I searched all the catalogs for such a reducing back, but they were not offered in the regular catalogs. So maybe this is a one of a kind item that was made on request for a customer. I sold for $ 23.

Last but not least an update on the 4 x 5 Boston Bull's-Eye. I have written an article about it for the Dutch Photohistorisch Tijdschrift, as an update on my 2007 article about the Boston Bull's-Eyes. When searching for new information I found an ad in the American Amateur Photographer of December 1893. It mentions the "new 4 x 5 Bulls-Eye", so I presume the camera was introduced around that time and not in 1892 like the regular Boston Bull's-Eye.

I also unscrewed the front of the camera to find out what is behind it. (I did that 40 years ago with the Kodak box of my parents and after that I refused to work again.) What I found is a very simple rotating shutter that was later used on the Kodak Bull's-Eyes and Bullets. Here's a pic.