Mystery camera - please help

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by mikeuk, Aug 18, 2018.

  1. Hello everyone.

    I have inherited what I guess is a vintage 4x5 dry plate camera, and as a fairly basic 35 mm shooter I am completely out of my depth! Can anyone please help me figure out what this lovely beast is? I've attached several photographs to illustrate.


    The 6 inch f4.5 Ross Xpres lens lens is fairly common and has a pretty good reputation it seems, c.1920s
    Information on coverage of Ross Lenses

    That size lens was apparently made for 4x5, hence my making the assumption on the plate size.

    The leather box that the camera came in says the London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co. with both Regent St. and Cheapside addresses on. Box is a bit of an odd fit so I'm not convinced that it belongs to the camera.

    I've been told that the shutter going up to 1/1000th makes the camera a bit younger than it might be? Don't know the dates though.

    So, there you go. Hopefully people here enjoy a mystery as much as I do!



    P8186733.jpg P8186731.jpg P8186736.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2018
  2. Dustin McAmera

    Dustin McAmera Yorkshire, mostly on film.

    From the serial number, it seems the lens is from the late 1930s, but I think the camera looks older than that, so maybe the lens on there now isn't the original one. A Ross lens would have suggested a British maker, but if the lens has been changed, who knows.
  3. Thanks for that insight Dustin, interesting that the lens is not the same age. I get the impression that press cameras were often modified.

    Another forum has provided this information: quarter plate Thornton Pickard All Weather Press Camera made between 1912 - 1920 approx. (Based upon details of the shutter, being a version of the Ruby).

  4. Speaking of serial numbers, I have something that might be a serial number saying 10226. P8186740.jpg
  5. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

  6. Thanks Sandy. Brian May was on the radio recently about it too.

    The company changed a bit over the years, I think by the time of this camera they were selling a wide range of camera equipment from various manufacturers.

    I suppose that there might be a LSPC specific model made by TP. As suggested to me elsewhere, at some point I may well try to email them and see if they are willing to look in their records etc.
  7. I have a Thornton Pickard 'Junior Special' quarter-plate reflex from the early 1920s, and although broadly similar, the shutter dial and release differs from that shown. The lens fitted to mine is a 6" f/4.5 Taylor Hobson Cooke anastigmat, in a 2" diameter mounting. I also have a 12" Dallmeyer telephoto to fit, which came with the camera.

    The knob securing the rising front looks identical to the one on my Junior Special.

    Your Ross lens above looks to be of later vintage than the camera.

    I see there are two screwheads above the plateholder at the back. Are they functional in any way? Because that's the position where TP normally fixed their nameplate.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
  8. Thanks, interesting additional notes there.

    Looking into your kind of camera has led me to discover that TP sometimes did not add their labels to cameras made for other brands to sell. And allegedly on these cameras there would be a serial number on the shutter mechanism, hidden behind the casing I say allegedly because I've also been told that there would not be any serial numbers, just the reference number for different components.

    I also looked again at the photos (since I don't have the camera with me at the moment, and realised that there could be a wire composing frame to pull up at the top of the rising front.
  9. Oh, and the two screwheads are used to secure the plateholder.
  10. The back on your camera looks a bit strange Mike. I can't work out how it functions.

    The plateholders that came with mine are quite slim metal things that slide into runners on the back of the camera. They're not held in place by a sprung pressure plate as yours appears to be. That would be a very cumbersome arrangement for what's billed as a press camera.

    So I suspect that your camera has been modified in order to use a modern double-darkslide.

    What's the size of the recess in the back of your camera Mike? Quarter plate is only 4.25" by 3.25", and the metal plateholders are only slightly larger. Looks as if the back of your camera may have been opened out in order to (attempt to) take a 5x4 DDS.
  11. I read an article some time back in Astronomy magazine about Brian May’s fascination with stereo viewers and photography.
    I believe he sells kits with viewers and pictures on astronomy and such.
    I grew up with the old view master and envelopes of discs ordered from the Sears catalog.
  12. Interesting suggestion! It may be a few days before I get a chance to look at the recess etc.
  13. Yes, Brian May resurrected the London Stereoscopic Company and amongst other activities they sell various stereoscopic slides and viewers. There is a link to the website in Sandy's reply above, and I think I saw links to quite a few interviews when I looked at the Queen website too.

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