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Identifying a mystery Folmer & Schwing camera

 
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Angela



Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 3
Location: Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 8:10 pm    Post subject: Identifying a mystery Folmer & Schwing camera Reply with quote

Hi everyone!

I have a camera that defies all attempts to identify it. It is in bad shape and almost all of its components are missing. I don't even know if it takes film or plates. The only clue to its origin is a small metal tag that says it was made by the Folmer & Schwing Division of the Eastman Kodak Co. in Rochester, NY. No serial number, no model name, nothing else.

Here is a small picture of it:


Larger pictures from various positions are here:
Larger version of the first picture
Side view
Back view
Retracted bellows
Metal plate with company name

The body is wood which is covered with (decomposing) leather. All of the fittings are metal.

At first I thought it might be a RB Cycle Graphic, but according to Kodak Cameras, the First Hundred Years, that was not produced until 1921, at which point Folmer & Schwing Division had already become Folmer-Century Division.

If anyone has a clue as to what this might be, I would really appreciate the help.

Thanks!
-Angela
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3206
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Angela,
Having looked at a copy of Kodak Cameras, the First Hundred Years at a camera store, I quickly concluded that it was of no help identifying anything but the very basic "consumer" rollfilm point and shoot cameras.

Now on this site we have A History of Rodchester Camera Companies ( http://www.graflex.org/articles/kingslake/ ) which shows that Graflex was Folmer and Schwing Division of Eastman Kodak Company from 1905 to 1916 and Folmer-Century Division from 1917 to 1926 then in 1926 became the Folmer Graflex Corporation.

From the Major Graflex Products ( http://www.graflex.org/graflex-products-list.html ) we find the RB Cycle Graphic to be available from pre 1900 to 1923. In the book by Richard P. Paine, A Review of Graflex, The Reversable Back Cycle Graphic was available from 1900 to 1906, had a triple extension bed and no back focus; the Reversable Back Cycle Graphic Special, 1904-1906, had a focal plane shutter, back focus, and a triple extension bed, and lastly, the Revolving Back Cycle Graphic, 1907-1922, had no back focus and triple extension bellows.

Graflex would custom make cameras, made many varriations in short production, used up old stock of parts after announcing a new design, and various other inconsisentices. Your camera appears to be a Cycle Graphic Special with the focal plane shutter left out hence the metal plate on the right side. I cannot tell from your pictures if there is more than one set of rails on the front standard but it appears to have only one.

The serial number of these older cameras in embossed or ink stamped into the wood on the bottom side of the top of the camera. Turn the camera upside down with the bed open and look between the bellows and the top of the camera, it will be 5 or 6 digits and no letters. Serial numbers were not recorded until the 1920's so early camera dates are a reasonable guess.

Your camera also has a Graflex back, which according to Paine, were not available until 1916. What is the size of the back opening with the ground glass holder removed?

Charles
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Angela



Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 3
Location: Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Charles. The camera is going in a museum exhibit (hence the need for identification), and it is so decrepit that we are leaving it in storage until it is time to build its mount. So I have not seen it recently enough to check for a serial number.

There is only one set of rails. To the best of my memory, the back panel is the same size with the glass removed, approximately 2"x3".

-Angela
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Henry



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 1439
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Angela, where is this exhibit going to be? If it's near me in Allentown I'd be interested in seeing it. Is it specifically a photo/camera-oriented exhibit, or what?
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3206
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And according to A Review of Graflex the Cycle Graphics were not made in any size smaller than 4x5. And after closer examination the knob on the body, close to the bed, is for focusing short focal length lens inside the body and not a back focus a I first thought.
OH, history expert!
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Les



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 2682
Location: Detroit, MI

PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2007 4:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's see...
4x5 rotating back.
no focal plane shutter,
bad bellows

Easy... it's a Super Graphic!



I'm gonna say it's an early custom ordered Speed Graphic. The dimensions of the body and the serial number will help.

And I'm betting it's a 4x5.
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Angela



Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 3
Location: Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Henry:
If you call Philadelphia close to Allentown, then yes, it is near you. From July 14 to September 23, the University of Pennsylvania Museum is putting up an exhibit called "Adventures in Photography." It includes approximately 50 photographs taken by archaeologists and anthropologists in their travels over the past 100 years. There will be two cases of cameras on display, a large one for still cameras and a smaller one for the two movie cameras. The focus is on the photographs, not the cameras, but it might be interesting to check out, if you have the time.

Les:
The dimensions are 6.5" x 8" x 4.75." I don't know that the bellows are bad so much as they are . . . decomposing. Actually, they held up way better than the leather on the outside of the box, which I suppose is no surprise.

Edit:
Charles:
The serial number is 14494. The 1 might be an 'I' -- part of it was scratched off, but you said that earlier stuff has no letters. Do you know where I can look this up to identify it once and for all?


-Angela


Last edited by Angela on Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Henry



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 1439
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, Angela, Phila. is not too near, and it's not too far---"It's ju-u-u-st right." And I would much rather drive in Philly than, say, New York or Boston. Fact is, we used to take the kids to the University Museum to see the mummies and the Asian stuff. I think our older son's study of Chinese language and culture stems from those visits. I've made a note of the exhibit dates and hope to be able to come down!
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3206
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Angela,
Les is the "history expert" and has access to the factory serial number list so I'll let him give you a name and date that you can use in the display. The serial number is very early 1900's, so that predates some of the earlier information by 10 to 15 years.
Charles
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Les



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 2682
Location: Detroit, MI

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Factory records don't go back that far. I have a data base started by the late Richard Paine of known cameras and their serial numbers. By no means is in complete, but it would be safe to say that the camera was made around 1908-1910.

While it's very interesting that it's that early, is disappointing that we don't have more information.
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