View Full Version : Looking for More Info About my 1898 Watson and Sons Camera - Details/Value?

23-Jul-2013, 04:42
My father was a professional Photographer for 50 years. This Huge Camera was in his studio, and was used as a decorative piece, I just had to move it into storage and i'm curious about its history. It looks to be in pretty good shape for it's age, I do not know if it was restored or is all original. I would also like to know where I should go for an appraisal and what the best venue would be for a possible sale/auction; I live in the New York City area.

I have spent time researching this camera and have found some information, but cannot find any others that have ever been sold or that are even in existence. Any additional info would be great; specs, details, history, and maybe even the process for putting it to use. I would like to attempt to take a photograph with it, but would have no idea where to start... (What type of film or plate to use? Instructions on the process? How to develop the photo or where to have it done?)

This is the Information I have found so far:

Model: Watson Process Camera

Manufacturer: W. Watson & Sons

Year Manufactured: 1898

Specifications: Constructed of special select seasoned wood to resist rough usage and hard wear. The bellows are constructed of the strongest twill to last a long time. The metal hardware is also stronger than regular. Focusing adjustment is accomplished with an endless screw with square thread. A screen holder is adjusted by rack and pinion. The front has rising motion. Made in several sizes including a 12 x 10, 15 x 12, 20 x 16, and 24 x 20 inches.

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss172/DanB7684/IMG_2078s.jpg (http://s573.photobucket.com/user/DanB7684/media/IMG_2078s.jpg.html)

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss172/DanB7684/IMG_2077s.jpg (http://s573.photobucket.com/user/DanB7684/media/IMG_2077s.jpg.html)

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss172/DanB7684/IMG_2065s.jpg (http://s573.photobucket.com/user/DanB7684/media/IMG_2065s.jpg.html)

http://i573.photobucket.com/albums/ss172/DanB7684/IMG_2073s.jpg (http://s573.photobucket.com/user/DanB7684/media/IMG_2073s.jpg.html)

23-Jul-2013, 08:27
They are British camera makers, so the one difficulty would be if you don't have plate or film holders, they are usually pretty unique to the camera. So anyone wanting to use the camera would have to have a back or film holder custom made. That would cost more than the camera, unfortunately. Ultra large film is available, but quite expensive. It would make a good wetplate camera, but again....needs a plate holder.

The lens, although from a good maker, is not an expensive or popular one.

The best venue to sell would be ebay, with no reserve. I would predict it would sell for $100-$500.

This link should help you:

Tin Can
23-Jul-2013, 09:21
The key point is it is a Process or Copy camera, not a 'real' camera. Many here reject these cameras for any use. The big difference is almost no movements, only front rise.

I have the exact same design 11x14 in my modern? The Levy Process camera made by Repro-Art machinery of Philadelphia, Pa, successor to J. B. Levy.

I paid $100 for mine with an antique studio stand.

Here is what I am doing with mine.



Steven Tribe
23-Jul-2013, 14:34
What the others said!

It is in pretty rough condition compared with many others I have seen. It can only be sold as a decoration item as the chances of find the right plate/film holders are very slim. It will take quite a bit of work to get the mahogany back to an attractive state.

23-Jul-2013, 14:55
While I'd agree it's most likely going to be just a decorative item it's the kind of thing I'd relish restoring. I've restored far worse, however luckily for me it's the wrong side of the pond and repatriating it would be more than it's worth :D

Watson made cameras etc up until about 1960 when they finally disappeared. As to value, you need to find an interested buyer and it's a buyers market with items like this that aren't mainstream and instantly useable.