View Full Version : Does anyone know

Nolan Lewis
22-Jul-2004, 21:06
I am associated with a small non-profit museum. Recently a girl brought in a camera she could hardly carry. I would guess it is circa 1900. It is a double bellows, wooden (I think Maple) with black paint that is mostly chipped off. Aprox 12X12 format. The lens board has a metal inset holding the lens with a lever to control the iris, labeled in other than f-stop. All metal is galvanized and heavily coroded so it is hard to read. Camera plate says Tascope Delux, M-TA #747502. The lens says Wollensak, Tascope, J-8, 10 1/2 inch focus, plus Tascope Automatic Aperture alongside the lens. We would like to date the camera and would also appreciate any other info anyone could furnish. Thanks nolanclewis@yahoo.com

David R Munson
22-Jul-2004, 21:37
I don't suppose you've got a digital you could snap a pic with? That can make the ID process much, much easier.

Ralph Barker
23-Jul-2004, 08:41
During the early 1900s, it seems that there were many small companies making cameras, sometimes for somewhat specialized purposes. Although not a camera history buff myself, Tascope is not a name I recall hearing. Thus, you might be better off trying the Wollensak clue trail, and see if that leads to clues about the Tascope camera.

Although Wollensak went out of business in 1972 after several corporate acquisitions, the site http://www.wollensakoptical.com/ may provide some leads for you. According to that site, "In October, 2003, Virginville Lens Co., d/b/a Surplus Shed purchased the remaining assets of Wollensak Optical. Included were thousands of completed lenses and lens assemblies, production equipment, original optical and mechanical drawings for both Wollensak and Elgeet Optical, and the Wollensak Building at 872 Hudson Ave, Rochester NY." (http://www.surplusshed.com) Whether they retained any of the Wollensak business records that might tie to Tascope is questionable, but might be worth exploring.

Another avenue would be through the work of Rudolf Kingslake (Kingslake, Rudolf, 1974, "The Rochester Camera and Lens Companies", Rochester NY, Photographic Historical Society). See http://www.nwmangum.com/Kodak/Rochester.html

Philippe Gauthier
23-Jul-2004, 09:55
The Wollensak probably refers to the shutter (or at least the iris), not the lens. I have a 1901-1905 vintage Conway lens with a similar setup. The shutter casing shows a large "Conway" logo, but the finer print says that it was actually made by Wollensak (which began in 1898 as a shutter manufacturer). Only the lens is actually of Conway manufacture (and even that is dubious, it might be rebadged glass).

That said, I doubt it's a camera. It's more likely a projector. There was something called a Phenakistascope, invented in 1834, that used disks to project moving images on a wall - the ancestor of movies. The square 12x12 format looks lik a confirmation - disks would require a square casing, not a rectangular one. And all picture formats that I'm aware of this this era are rectangular, not square.

Check these links: http://www.opticaltoys.com/fores.htm http://www.acmi.net.au/AIC/MAGIC_MACHINES_2.html http://www.silentmovies.com/zoetrope/education/lessons.htm http://www.moah.org/exhibits/archives/movies/technology_development.html

Nolan Lewis
25-Jul-2004, 15:02
I could probably find a digital, but not sure it would show much. This thing is or was before the paint chipped off,all black including the bellows. Maybe a bit better discription. Three wooden frames. The front and middle about 2 inches wide. The rear nearly four inches. Front is not moveable at all. the other two roll in and out on a heavy wooden track. There are no swings or tilts. Someone suggested it was a projector. That's possible, but not for the cited reason. I first got in to photo about 1945, (First civilian studio I worked for in Fort Worth Texas, the owner used only 8X10 or as his portable camera a 5X7, and he never shot anything at less than f64, and our film then was 50 speed or less) and worked with a lot of wooden view cameras and they were all square. The plate holder was either 5X7 or 8X10, and was placed on the camera either vertical or horizontal. Actuall I once used one that the plate holder was permenantly attached and merely twisted into either position. Someone suggested the lens wasn't Wollensak, just the shutter. The ring on the inside of the lens front says, Wollensak Tascope J-8 focus 10 1/2 in. There is no shutter as such showing. The lens screws into a large metal area that has a lever protruding forward with some unreadable inscriptions for the various positions. You can watch the iris open and close when it is moved. In the service I carried a lot of 4X5 Speed Graphics, and many had Wollensak Raptar lenses. In re-looking, I discovered a wooden spool, mounted inside the lens board. About five inches in diameter and almost four inches wide. There is a thin steel strap about a half inch wide that feeds back to the back to the back mount. I would guess it has to do with the previously mentioned Tascope Automatic Aperture, but actually it looks more like it would have to do with focus. Thanks for the suggestions. If I ever find out for sure I will try to post the info to answer everyones curiosity. nolan