My new project camera. A circa 1895 8x10 view camera, made by Rochester Optical & Camera Company.
The camera is definitely in a ‘used’ condition. There are significant scratches and gouges in the mahogany body and the brass fittings have a healthy patina, but almost all are there, and all work well. The saving grace is that the bellows look close to new and the ground glass is clean and intact. All round it will be a serviceable camera - when I can find a lens that will cast an image large enough to cover an 8x10 plate while still fast enough for silvered collodion.
The question now is how far do I go restoring it? I’ve started pulling it apart for a gentle cleaning and a once over with furniture polish. I’m unsure if I’ll polish the brass fittings at this stage. Restoring the brass is a large undertaking and the patina lends quite a character to the piece.
I also have to find a replacement handle for the top. One of this weekend’s jobs will be to find a cobbler or similar to make me a nice buckled leather loop to replace the decaying canvas strap and it’s covering of peeling electrical tape.
In addition to finding a suitable lens, I’ll need to source, or build a plate holder to fit the camera. There’s already a spring loaded back, so a modified double dark holder may suffice, or maybe I’ll look into a custom made unit. The need for a plate holder isn’t immediate though so I have time to mull that one over.
Stay tuned for more updates to come, and hopefully sometime in the future you’ll find yourself staring down the barrel of this beauty whilst sitting for a magnificently large wet plate portrait of your own!