10 x 12 inch (30x36cm) Wooden Studio Camera c1900 (Hire Only)

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10" x 12" (30x36cm) Wooden Studio Camera

Overall size of this folding studio Camera 36" X 30 cm

(Please note that the lens will be fitted to the camera)

General Vintage Wooden Studio Camera Information

Materials and Construction

The most common wood to be used in this country was mahogany. Two types were used the best being Spanish, sometimes called Cuban. Honduran was cheaper and gradually replaced the use of Spanish, by around 1900 most cameras were of Honduran. Spanish mahogany is a dark red/brown colour with occasional shades of plum. It has pronounced figuring and little grain pattern. Honduran is a lighter golden brown colour with a noticeable grain. Fiddle-back mahogany is produced from logs having a wavy grain, if the log is cut radially the face of the plank will show alternately the peaks and troughs of the grain giving a pronounced banding, the edge of the plank will show the wavy pattern of the grain.

The common method of joining boards (e.g. on a lens panel or baseboard) was to use a loose tongue

Brass was usually used for the fittings attached to cameras, from the mid 1890s aluminium became popular but its use had all but ceased by the early 1900s. Previously aluminium had been very expensive but new production methods adopted around 1890 drastically reduced the cost. Brass or aluminium binding refers to metal let into the surface of the wood to strengthen joints and prevent warping. Brass fittings were usually finished plain and lacquered, worm or hatching markings were favoured by some makers (e.g. Perken Son & Rayment, Chapman).

Bellows could be parallel sided or tapered towards the lens. They were normally made of leather but cloth or paper was also used. Leather bellows comprise an outer thin leather covering, an inner cloth layer and, between the two, cardboard panels to provide rigidity. The finish is normally smooth but some examples have a pronounced grain or pattern, they may also have a lacquer covering. A distinctive dot pattern is sometimes present on earlier examples from around 1860.

If for use in the tropics Russia leather was used. This is a vegetable tanned leather, the birch oil used during the finishing process made it somewhat insect resistant. It came in a variety of colours especially red, green, brown and black, the finish is usually smooth, matt and without grain. Russia leather was also traditionally finished with an embossed diamond pattern, this was used extensively on the body covering of later German hand cameras but not on bellows.

The edges of bellows were of three kinds:

Concertina - only found on cameras of around 1860

Square cornered - This method of folding the bellows leaves very sharp corners which are prone to wear.

Diagonal cornered - To lessen the wear on the vulnerable 90° corners they were replaced by two 45° corners and a short diagonal. This pattern was used from the late 1890s and was in general use by the early 1900s though the older square cornered pattern still remained on some models especially large cameras and tailboards

The simplest way to cater for landscape or portrait formats was to turn the whole camera on its side, this was used especially on tailboard cameras and cheaper models. It had the advantage that the camera could be made smaller than a reversing back model. A reversing back is a thin frame to which the dark-slide fits. The frame is removable from the rear standard and can be fitted for horizontal or vertical exposures. With a revolving back the frame is permanently attached to the rear standard and can rotate. Rotating backs were patented as early as 1885 and used by Billcliff from this date and briefly by Thornton-Pickard on their early cameras, otherwise they are seldom found on stand cameras. Another option, adopted on Lancaster cameras, was to allow the slide itself to fit the back either horizontally or vertically, retained by catches at the corners of the back.

S.D. McKellen patented an arrangement where the dark-slide was held between two rails, these were removable and could be screwed to the camera back for vertical or horizontal exposures. 

Focusing screens

These were generally hinged along one edge and either folded over the top of the bellows when not in use or incorporated a double hinge and rested on the dark-slide. Lancaster used four double hinges so that the screen moved backwards and remained parallel to the camera back allowing the dark-slide to slot into place. On some models the screen was fully removable. The spring back, incorporating two large leaf springs, popular in the USA, was not adopted in this country but was described in a patent by Thornton-Pickard in 1895. T-P also used a complicated arrangement where the screen was pressed in place by two curved springs attached to the reversing frame and one side of the screen. The screen could be pulled back and a slide dropped in to place, the springs then forced the screen onto the back of the slide. A spring loaded strip of wood gripped the opposite side of the slide

Plate Holders

The most popular form of dark-slide was the book form double dark-slide, this was the same type as used for paper negatives and the earlier dry plates. Block form dark-slides (also called American pattern) made an appearance in the early 1880s and were later popular on hand cameras. They were less often found on stand cameras. In block form slides the plate is loaded by removing the end of the slide or through the face of the slide where it clips into place.

Wet-plate slides were available during this period, they were still advertised by Lancaster in the 1890s. Transitional cameras were sold with perhaps a single wet-plate and three double dark-slides. Older cameras could have been updated by buying some new slides or, less conveniently, the wet-plate slide could be use.

single extension refers to cameras with a bellows extension the same as the length of the baseboard. The lens would normally have a focal length slightly less than this. By fitting either standard to a frame that slides within the baseboard the camera becomes a Double extension. Triple extension was achieved in various ways. On field cameras a further outer frame could be used to carry the rear standard.


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The 10 x 12 inch (30x36cm) Wooden Studio Camera c1900 (Hire Only) is shown in Prop Hire 1900 - 1910.

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Delivery will be made by Interparcel, you will be able to track your order online to find your scheduled delivery date. Any deliveries scheduled to arrive on the Saturday or Bank Holiday will be delivered the following working day. We aim to dispatch your order within 24 hours of the time the order has been placed.

We maintain the condition of our items to a high quality and ask clients to follow our care instructions to avoid any additional charges.

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All items should be lifted and not dragged. Heavy items will require two or more people.
Lamps should always be carried by the base and the pole.
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Some items may be sent in parts and will need to be assembled. · All parts will be listed in the item description on your quote and delivery note.
Please contact us for any further assembly instructions.

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