A rather rare 19th century wood camera is currently at auction on ebay. The "Tom Thumb Camera," is a highly sought after detective type camera first introduced in the summer of 1888, and utilizing 2.5 x 2.5 inch dry plates.
I have seen serial numbers in the 100's to the 700's, which helps get a sense of the camera's production. It was advertised for at least 3 years. One of the more beautiful looking cameras ever produced (if you ask me), the camera is highly sought after by collectors.
Please note I have no relation to seller. Seller was kind of enough to allow me to use his ebay images of the camera.
UPDATE: Camera sold for $ 4,870.00 USD
Tom Thumb Camera ~ Image courtesy of Ebay User decobill
Ad from an 1892 Scovill Catalogue
Click on patent image to get access to the full patent
Tom Thumb Camera ~ Image courtesy of Ebay User decobill
July 11, 2011
I don't plan on spending much time discussing modern cameras, but the Fuji X100 is considered to be the closest digital has come to a classic fixed lens rangefinder experience of years gone by. The Online Photographer Blog has a great review of the Fuji X100 by Ken Tanaka. Short, but excellent, balanced review.
The camera is out of stock nearly everywhere at its listed $ 1,199. Ebay is your current choice. Premiums running $ 200-350 !
July 9, 2011
The most popular page on my an entire website is the Rolleiflex TLR page. And, in case you were wondering, Leica M Lenses takes 2nd place, Pentax 67 Lenses 3rd, and Leica M Cameras 4th. This is among the 94 pages that currently make up this site. Its pretty clear much of my site's traffic is from Leica and Rollei fans.
So, why do I think my Rolleiflex page is the most popular page on my site when there are plenty of similar sites across the internet? Given the incredible amount of variations and models of Rolleiflex TLR's, I think readers appreciate the simplified reference, sorted by serial number, as well as the personal analysis of current market values for these models.
Having said all that, I am always looking for more high quality Rolleiflex TLR links and I have found a great one, Club Rollei User. Although not a new club, it is a new website with a lot of Rollei information including some free articles from its members-only Rollei magazine. Click here to see.
Rolleiflex 3.5F Type 4 with 6 element lens
July 6, 2011
The Rochester Optical Company was a major player in the amateur camera market in the late 1880's and the 1890's. Over the next month or two, I will be posting periodic entries regarding the Rochester Optical Company ( "ROC" ), but I though I would start off with two pieces today. The first piece, is a "trade card" or what we now call a "business card," from Rochester Optical. Given the address listed on the card itself, I have narrowed down the year of issuance to be 1892 or 1893. While I have owned plenty of "billheads" (aka "invoices") from Rochester Optical over the years, as well as other cool advertising pieces, this is the first time I have come across a business card. I can imagine "trade" or "business" cards were printed by the boatload each year which should make them fairly common, however, I think their small size, somewhat fragile paper construction and the lack of purpose in saving these cards long term, are all possible reasons for my perception of the scarcity of these cards. If anyone knows more or has a key to this mystery, please let me know....Anyway, this particular example was found in an unopened envelope leaving it in near perfect condition, some 110 years later.
The piece below the trade card is a copy of a two page article that Scientific America published in 1895 covering the Rochester Optical Company. Great information and gives the reader insight as to the internal workings of a camera maker.
More Rochester Optical Company posts to come in the future, stay tuned.
July 3, 2011
As I've stated in other areas of my site, my primary camera and lens collecting focuses on pieces that meet all of the following:
1. Made prior to 1900 2. Made of wood 3. View Camera (no folding plate cameras/cycle types) 4. Made in America 5. 4x5 or smaller in image size
I believe one should focus one's collecting pursuits with the goal of becoming an expert in your area of interest. That's what I enjoy and I think most long term collectors feel. I am also an advocate for keeping one's collecting pursuits narrow, if that suits your personality and spending style. In keeping my collecting focus narrow, I may only acquire one, two or three major pieces to my collection per year. The "hunt" is difficult and competition among fellow collectors is high. So, it usually takes some good effort and a healthy wallet on my part when that special piece shows up on eBay.
All that said, I thought I would post a list of items that I am especially seeking. Take a look. Email me.
July 1, 2011
Keh.com has a rarely seen Leica collectible for sale. A 40mm F/2.8 Elmarit-C Lens.
"Leica 40 F2.8 Elmarit-C (M mount)- Produced in 1973 with a very compact design for use with the Leica CL. Comes in a bayonet mount only, rangefinder manual focus. The production numbers on this lens were at approximately 400 and were never officially sold to the general public. Has a rarity classification of R9 (on a scale of 1-10, R9= "Almost Unique" with R10 being "The Impossible"). BGN grade, $1,950. Find it here."
Another example of this lens (in box) went unsold on ebay at $ 2,812. See here.
June 30, 2011
For those with strong interests in classic rangefinder cameras eventually, money willing, will want to try out the Canon 50mm F/0.95 lens. Its almost a right of passage. The Noctilux is out of reach for most everyone, but the Canon remains (somewhat) more reasonable. I have owned a few copies in my time, including the two samples shown below. The best thing you can do to get the most out of this hunk of glass is to have it aligned on your camera by someone who knows what they are doing. That means don't cheap out on getting the lens properly adjusted and aligned... Shooting anywhere from F/0.95 to F/1.2 and you get razor thin DOF so adjustment and proper alignment are key to have images that aren't mush !
Canon's Super Fast 50mm F/0.95 Lens
The Canon 50mm F/0.95 lens arrived on the scene in 1961, and was the fastest traditional camera lens yet available. It also replaced the f/1.2 Canon as the fastest lens in the Canon family. While many on the internet claim it has the same optical formula as the 50mm f/1.2, it is actually slightly different. The rear most element on the f/0.95 lens is thicker than in the f/1.2 lens, and the glass types are different in elements # 2 and # 3 (supported by optical layouts from a Canon publication). Peter Kitchingman has also confirmed that elements 4,5,6 and 7 differ in curvatures between the two lenses.
Leica has numerous rarities from its 90+ years of manufacturing and one of the earlier ones is the "Rigid" Summar Lens. While the common, collapsible Leica Summar is a plentiful 50mm F/2.0 lens that Leica used as its standard lens from 1933 to 1939, the earliest versions were mounted in a "rigid" barrel. One historian explains this was Leica's attempt to improve lens performance using a rigid barrel to remove any possible performance robbing "play" that collapsible lenses can have in their barrel. All of the Rigid lenses were made in 1933.
Leica historian, James Lager, writes in his Volume II on Leica Lenses that the Rigid Summar was code named "Sumar" and "factory records suggest" that less than two thousand Rigid Summars were "completed.'' He also notes that Willy Hahne, another Leica historian, in "10 Jahre Leica Historica,'' states that Leica advertised in Leica Photography (1934) offering to convert rigid Summars into collapsible Summars for $17.50. He goes on to state that "hundreds" of lenses were converted and "explains in part the scarcity of the rigid Summar.''
Rigid Summars are found with a serial number of 167,xxx or 186,xxx* and most are finished in nickel while some have an even rare chrome finish. Depending on condition and current market demand, these lenses typically sell in the $ 1,200-2,000 range on Ebay.
Leica author Laney, rates the rarity of the Rigid Summar in Nickel at R7 and the chrome version at R8 ( R10 being the rarest possible). In comparison, the collapsible Summar is an R1 (very common).
* Please note that Leica "expert" Erwin Puts states in his own serial number research and listsings that Rigid Summars were also produced in the serial number range of 190,051 to 191,000 but I have never seen one in this range.
Rigid Summar Nickel
Rigid Summar Nickel
Image Courtesy LiveAuctioneers.com
Chrome Version Rigid Summar. Image Courtesy of PeterLoy.com
June 24, 2011
Thomas Sutton of Kensington, London (1819-1875), was an important figure in 19th century photography. A few of his many photographic achievements include:
1. 1856. Founder and author of the magazine, Photographic Notes. Runs for over 10 years before consolidating with another magazine.
2. 1858. Publishes the first English Dictionary of Photography
Sutton was a well respected figure in photography from the 1850's until his death in 1875 and his colleagues and business partners included the likes of Thomas Ross and John Dallmeyer.
Sutton wrote the following article, "Sketch of the History of Photographic Lenses" in 1866. This is mere 27 years after the birth of photography.
June 19, 2011
It's not often I add to my collection given it's narrow focus, however, a 4x5 Greenpoint Optical Company "Eureka" Camera has found it's way into my display cabinet.
The camera shown, is more commonly known as E.& H.T. Anthony's "Eureka" camera sold as part of it's "Eureka School Outfit." However, many examples of this camera are found stamped as being sold/made by the Greenpoint Optical Company ("GOC") with both camera and lens displayng GOC markings.
Anthony had maintained and owned a camera making plant located in Greenpoint, NY, essentially northern Brooklyn. About 1880, "Greenpoint Optical Company" was formed by E.& H.T. Anthony employees, yet E.&H.T. Anthony maintained some level of ownership and control in the company until 1891 when GOC was sold off to the Blair Camera Company. It could very well be that early examples of the Eureka (1889-1891) are marked by GOC while later, post 1891 Eureka models, have no markings on the body and Anthony on the lens, after GOC's ownership change. If not this, some other business or marketing reason would have dictated the reason some bodies/lenses are marked GOC while others have an unmarked body with E.& H.T. Anthony marked lens.
The "Eureka" was only produced in 4x5 size with it's body made of mahogany and non-folding bed made of cherry wood. The "Eureka" was available from about 1889 to 1901. The original lens supplied with the camera was E.& H.T. Anthony's Single Achromatic Lens which is stamped on the lens. On the GOC versions, "Greenpoint Optical Co." replaces the Anthony name on the lens stamping but the lens retains the Single Achromatic Lens wording. This simple landscape lens was the standard lens found on many of Anthony's dry plate, amateur view cameras, starting c. 1889 and all through the 1890's. It is frequently referred to as Anthony's "Cone" lens in collecting circles. Anthony's catalogue refers to the lens as its "Single Combination" lens and it was sold in various sizes for many years.
Greenpoint Optical Company "Eureka" Camera
1891 Anthony Catalogue Advertisement
This camera is an excellent example of the type of simple, inexpensive, amateur view cameras that were on the market in the 1890's to meet the increased interest in amateur photography using "simple" dry plate glass negatives.
The Eureka cameras are scarce in today's marketplace, especially in original and complete condition. Since many of these simple dry plate amateur cameras were constructed with lesser materials and craftsmanship, they are frequently found in poor condition. Yet, other times they are found snug inside their wooden cases and appear as new, some 125 years later, often including some or all of the components originally contained in the outfit. Prices generally range $ 400-550 in good condition.
This particular camera has great provenance having been owned by Eaton Lothrop and Leon Jacobson before him.
Greenpoint Optical Co. "Eureka" Camera
Further research on this particular camera by collector, Larry Pierce, revealed this model camera was also distributed by Perry Mason & Company of Boston as a premium for it's salesforce and was marketed as the No. 1 "Companion Camera."