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jswillems
29-Nov-2014, 22:22
Hello everyone. My name is Josh and I'm new to the forums here. I've been shooting 35 mm and medium format for a while, and am just starting out in my large format adventure, but very excited about it. Anyways, the other day I was poking around in a consignment shop near where I live and came across this camera. The price was pretty good, and I've always loved vintage cameras, so I decided to pick it up. It was absolutely filthy, looks like it hasn't been opened up and used in years, but other than that seems to be in pretty good shape. Appears to be 5x7. I couldn't find any markings on it at all to indicate who made it or when it was made, so I'm hoping someone here can help me out with that! It came with a Wollensak lens dated August 13, 1912 as well as an undated Kodak viewing lens. Anyways, I'd love to learn more about the history of this camera if I can. Thanks!

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John Kasaian
29-Nov-2014, 23:04
It looks kind of like an Ansco to me.

Alan Gales
29-Nov-2014, 23:17
I've got an Ansco 8x10 sitting here. There were different models but I think you may have something else.

I do know where John is coming from though.

jswillems
29-Nov-2014, 23:22
Well that's at least somewhere to start. Thanks! I was looking through some databases of different cameras from different makers, but with no starting point it was a total shot in the dark. Just doing a quick search of Ansco cameras, I do see stylistic similarities in the construction and design of the hardware, but as I said, I'm totally new to this. It seems to be of decently good quality, though nothing spectacular. But I really have nothing to compare it to. I've been working on cleaning up the wood, but the metal is proving more difficult. Does anyone have any recommendations on what to use to clean it up without damaging anything?

Jon Shiu
29-Nov-2014, 23:38
Could be early Burke & James camera.

Jon

jswillems
29-Nov-2014, 23:42
Thanks! I'll have to look into some of their cameras. Poking around a bit more, I did find B-281 written in pencil on the back of the ground glass frame, and the same number stamped under on of the hinges on the frame. Not sure what (if anything) that means, but thought I'd mention it.

Alan Gales
29-Nov-2014, 23:44
You know in some ways it looks like an Ansco and in some ways it doesn't. I believe that Ansco was made in New York.

I would try Brasso on the metal parts. Remove them first. For the tough spots you might try steel wool. On my Ansco (which was filthy) I left the metal parts alone except for a wipe. I didn't want to ruin the patina. I used a wood cleaner and polisher in one to help the wood.

I bought my Ansco for the lens that came with it and plan on flipping the camera since I all ready own an 8x10.

jswillems
30-Nov-2014, 00:00
Thanks for the tips on the metal. I'll have to give that a try. I'm not sure yet if I'll try using the camera or not. I would love to, but I'm currently setting myself up with a 4x5 system, and I'm just not sure I can afford to shoot both formats right now. The bellows are shot and would need to be replaced. The lens also isn't working, unfortunately; the shutter doesn't trigger. Might try having a CLA done somewhere if it's not too pricey.

Alan Gales
30-Nov-2014, 00:10
If you are going to sell it then I wouldn't put much into it. These old tailboard cameras don't go for much. I wouldn't pay to CLA the lens if I planned on selling it. You won't recoup the money.

jswillems
30-Nov-2014, 00:22
I'm not planning on selling it. I'm sure I'll get around to using it sometime. I enjoy cleaning/restoring old cameras, so it will make for a fun project in the meantime.

Alan Gales
30-Nov-2014, 00:32
That's great. I hope you enjoy it!

jswillems
30-Nov-2014, 16:05
Thanks. I'm sure it will be challenging, but I look forward to it. One question, as I mentioned, the bellows are shot and will need to be replaced, however I'm not sure the best way to go about removing the old ones. They seem to be attached to the back with quite a few small tacks, and it seems a little dicey trying to remove all of them. As for the front, I can't see how the bellows are attached, possible glued.

mdarnton
30-Nov-2014, 17:59
It's not an Agfa-Ansco. There's only one model that doesn't have front focus and an extensible rear track. It's 5x7 only, and doesn't have either front shift or reinforcing plates on the frames for the front rise, and the knobs on the rise, with the center screws, are very much not A-A type. That one is on p11, here:
http://www.cameraeccentric.com/html/info/agfa_1.html

The routing around the ground glass is a bit eccentric, and doesn't resemble any brand I'm familiar with.

Randy Moe
30-Nov-2014, 18:35
Could be early Burke & James camera.

Jon

I agree, that front standard and hardware scream B&J.

jswillems
30-Nov-2014, 18:48
Thanks! Any ideas on the age? Most of the B&J cameras I've been able to find pictures of are the ones painted gray with red bellows.

Alan Gales
30-Nov-2014, 18:52
Thanks. I'm sure it will be challenging, but I look forward to it. One question, as I mentioned, the bellows are shot and will need to be replaced, however I'm not sure the best way to go about removing the old ones. They seem to be attached to the back with quite a few small tacks, and it seems a little dicey trying to remove all of them. As for the front, I can't see how the bellows are attached, possible glued.

I've never removed a bellows on a camera with non-removable bellows. I have heard that some were tacked or stapled and glued. I would probably try a needle nose pliers to remove the tacks. You need to remove everything so the new bellows will fit up light tight.

Do a search on here about replacing bellows. I'm sure you will find something on here to help you. You might also try YouTube.

mdarnton
30-Nov-2014, 19:00
In violin making we call that kind of finish, with great difference in color of adjacent areas, "burned". It happens when someone puts color on bare wood--either the wrong type of color or before the wood is sealed enough for color to be equalized and evenly accepted. That look on a camera almost certainly means it was refinished, because the original makers did a better job than that. But we don't know if it used to be gray, or some wood color, or even black.

But it doesn't quite look like a B&J, either, to me. Everyone's got their little quirks, and theirs are missing. However, around the 1920s, which is sort of where this one might be from, I think there were more than a few companies cranking these out--you might never discover what it is.

Randy Moe
30-Nov-2014, 19:01
If it's B&J and if it's Chicago made, some cameras made here used only small nails to attach nailing strips to fasten bellows. My Chicago Deardorff was done that way without glue.

Since the bellows are shot, be bold but gentle. Use pliers as mentioned or a thin blade to pry up the strips. If the strips and bellows are damaged, no big deal as new strips are easily made.

Of course during any restoration never throw out even the tiniest scrap or part until you have made new bits.

Also take lots of detailed pics and good measurements.

Have a good time!

jswillems
30-Nov-2014, 19:07
Thank you all for the advice! I very much appreciate it. I will take a closer look at the bellows when I have time to see what the best approach is. Regarding the finish, I did think that it looked a bit off. One thing to note though, is that most of the camera is very faded and worn. I unscrewed some of the metal hardware pieces to clean them, and the finish was much darker, richer, and even underneath. So I'm not sure if it has in fact been refinished, or is just very worn and faded. If it was originally painted, then whoever refinished it did a good job as there are no signs of paint anywhere at all.

I figured it would be kind of a long shot trying to figure out who made it, but thought it was worth a shot. Thanks again!

Randy Moe
30-Nov-2014, 19:08
In violin making we call that kind of finish, with great difference in color of adjacent areas, "burned". It happens when someone puts color on bare wood--either the wrong type of color or before the wood is sealed enough for color to be equalized and evenly accepted. That look on a camera almost certainly means it was refinished, because the original makers did a better job than that. But we don't know if it used to be gray, or some wood color, or even black.

But it doesn't quite look like a B&J, either, to me. Everyone's got their little quirks, and theirs are missing. However, around the 1920s, which is sort of where this one might be from, I think there were more than a few companies cranking these out--you might never discover what it is.

I would love to see a camera you would make. A violin's finesses on basically a box. It would be wonderful and lightweight!

gleaf
30-Nov-2014, 19:26
It isn't a Century Universal as the construction is much more robust. Some other hardware and structural differences as well. My Century is about 70 - 75 years young.
Yours looks robust enough to carry some nice big glass. Air Ministry Dallmeyer or equal in front of a nice Packard shutter.

Happy ownership of a grand project.

Randy Moe
2-Dec-2014, 09:55
Look at this B&J on Ebay. (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Burke-James-rare-5x7-wood-box-camera-/131366627651?pt=US_Vintage_Cameras&hash=item1e960fa943)

Shootar401
2-Dec-2014, 13:35
It's a Gundlach

jswillems
2-Dec-2014, 17:51
I also posted over on the APUG forum and one of the members there chimed in suggesting it could be an RHS Model C. Here's a link to the thread:

http://www.apug.org/forums/forum44/136037-help-identifying-dating-5x7-camera.html

My camera looks virtually identical to his except for lacking the label, so I think that's a pretty good guess, though since mine has no maker's marks on it, we may never know for sure. It does look very similar to the B&J cameras, so maybe RHS was copying their design. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be much info out there about RHS and their history. Thank for everyone's help!