Mystery Camera

Discussion in 'New User Introductions' started by bobbycarty, Sep 28, 2017.

  1. I have just received an antique plate studio camera which has a Ross 9 and a half inch Apo process Xpres f9 lens, number 159315.
    The camera is mounted on a large base and has to the rear, three differently sized opening doors, presumably for separately sized glass plates. To the rear also is a large heavy lens approximately 8" in diameter mounted on a metal swivel. I do not know if this lens was intended for checking the sharpness of the image or if it enabled the camera to double as a projector of slide images or whatever.
    Perhaps someone might have an idea. The camera is mounted on a large base which has small wheels underneath and a counter weight to stabilise the unit when it is in use.
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  2. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    Interesting - from looking at it I can see no kind of shutter mechanism, which leads me to wonder whether it is a projector rather than a camera. Mayhap someone else can 'throw some light' on it ?
  3. Thanks Tony,

    Perhaps you are right about it being a projector. I have attached a snap of the rear of the contraption which shows the large lens swivelled out to show the three opening concentric doors at the back, Sizes are, 10 1/4 " x 8", 6 3/4" x 5" , 4 1/2" x 3 1/2" (255mm x 205mm, 170mm x 125mm , 115mm x 90 mm) approx sizes. All this leads me to believe that it might have been a convertion job, old camera to projector.
    In relation to the Ross lens company, it was, I believe, at one time run by the Earl of Ross, whose family name was Parsons who owned Birr Castle in Ireland and they built the world's largest telescope there in the nineteenth century. I wonder is there be any connection to you? 20170922_113136.jpg
  4. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    Hi, Bobby,
    Strange you should mention this - there is indeed an Irish connection in my family, but I have never been able to trace any direct links, which leads me to wonder 'which side of the blanket' the line (should it exist) descends from !
  5. Hi Tony,
    I have looked up the firm of Ross and have discovered that a T Wayland has done a study of the company called Ross of London Chronology.

    A most interesting piece of history was disclosed in the document. A sideline note beside the date of 10 December 1920 tells that Sir Charles Parsons was the Son of the Earl of Rosse. Sir Charles was elected Director and Chairman of the Board of Ross Ltd on February 1st 1921.

    Unfortunately I misspelled the Earl's name, it Should be Rosse, not Ross. There is an Earl by name of Ross in Scotland.

    YouTube has an interesting piece called Lord Rosse's Great Telescope 1967, which was an interview which the Sixth Earl of Rosse gave to Patrick Moore, Astronomer detailing the work of the Third Earl of Rosse born in 1800 in York and died in Monkstown, Dublin in 1867 after having built the world's largest telescope, the Leviathan, a 72" metal speculum (2 parts copper and one part tin) metal mirror reflector which has been restored and is still in place in Birr Castle, Co Offaly in Ireland .

    Back to the camera/projector, of whatever it should be called, I have not found any images of a Ross 9 1/2" Apo Process f9 Xpres lens on the internet, but I shall keep trying.
  6. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    Hi, Bobby,

    From what I gather, my family connection with Ireland was severed in early Victorian times, when many Irish families left the country, so it is looking less likely. Thanks for the info anyway.

    Good luck with the lens - hope you have better luck tracing its antecedents than I have had with my family (who may even have changed their name, of course !).
  7. Robert Lansdale: As soon as I saw that big lens on the back I thought of a Solar enlarger as patented by D.A. Woodward (improved patent
    Patent No.151,462 of May 26, 1874 showing improved construction of solar enlarger and mirror assembly) This instrument would be installed as part of a portal in a darkroom window where, outside, a moveable mirror would gather in the light, project it through the big lens, then thorough a negative and then through the process lens. The enlarged image would be projected to sensitive photo paper on a moveable "wall". First patent: U.S. Patent No.16,700 dated Feb. 24, 1857. We (PHSC) had a full story of the Woodard enlarger by Matt Isenburg in Photographic Canadiana Vol 37-4 Feb-April 2012. PDF available.

    As part of the detective work you might find burn marks on the inside of the camera where the operator failed to move the mirror and the image of the sun shone on the inside bellows or wooden parts and burned it.

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