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.

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