View Full Version : Reygondaud 12" x 16" Camera

9-May-2019, 01:47
You know how it is, you see a camera and somehow it ends up being bought. I've just done this again. And I've ended up with a rather larger than anticipated piece of history. The camera has the nameplate of Reygondaud of Paris and an un-named rack and pinion lens with a 3" diameter front element. It takes 12" x 16" plates and has a roller blind mechanism on the rear - I'm trying to figure our how this works. Apparently it has history.

It came with a truly enormous tripod - 2.7m high when closed (I haven't actually extended it as yet, but there is at least 2m of extension - not sure my step ladder is high enough to use this). The tripod is marked Photo Reims Cathedral and the story attached to the camera is that it was in the cathedral during bombardment in WW1. There is hot shrapnel damage to the front brass of the lens (at the bottom in the photo attached) and some separation obviously caused as a result of this, although the lens still looks usable - or would if any aperture controls existed.

Not sure what exactly I will end up doing with it but its a fascinating bit of photographic history. It will need some TLC to deal with a few 'issues' but I will supply this. A friend sent me this link: https://maisons-champagne.com/en/encyclopedias/phototheque-umc-303/cathedrale-de-reims-309/-4748 and is it possible that this is what it was used for? Anyway if anyone can enlighten me about the camera or how the back works or really anything else which might add to my scant knowledge of it, I would be grateful. Thanks.

191134 191135

Steven Tribe
9-May-2019, 02:07
This is a fun item and I remember the lot and the bloody description!

The plate back is fairly standard for the 1880s (?). It is a single holder, loaded from the back through a door which you can see 1/2 of on your photo. The Tambour dark slide for exposure is operated through the back, rather than pulled out through the side. Expect light leaks and difficulties with the tambour where it changes direction around the edges! Usually, the loading of the plate holder determines horiz. or vert. orientation, but your holder doesn't look to be square?

Being an obvious Continental camera (Walnut? Woodworm loves this and I see exit holes below the lens board) I think the format is likely to be 30x40cm rather than 12x16". If you post details of the lens (in the lens section!) we might be able to help.

9-May-2019, 02:40
Thanks Steven. It is a fun item, especially the tripod (I still can't believe its size - a beautifully made item with hollow wooden legs for lightness!). The camera is well made too with great attention to detail and the holder IS square (well rectangular obviously). Orientation is by removing the camera from the centred base (not in the pix) and attaching this to either the short or long side of the camera. I'll have a really good look at the back and figure it out now, but I can see that it would leak light easily enough. The Tambour won't fully close so there is some impediment somewhere i'll recheck the format too. Yes, its had some woodworm and I've just been talking to a friend, who has some expertise in wood about this. There's no dust so the worm is probably long dead and gone but he suggested putting the camera itself it into a big, strong plastic bag with mothballs or equivalent rather than use anything potentially damaging like spray or liquid. Any other suggestions?

I'll look closer at the lens and make more measurements. I'm sure that its original. All in all its (another) long term project. In an ideal world it would be fun to put it all in order and take it back to Reims but I have Grubbs to use in Dublin, a Scottish camera to take to Scotland and far too little time as usual.

Steven Tribe
9-May-2019, 03:24
Woodworm doesn't live long in modern centrally heated dwellings with low humidity!

Most French lenses of this size will have identifying pencil/ink marks on lens edges.

9-May-2019, 04:37
Thanks Steven. I've put photos of the lens in the lens section. I can remove the front but cannot extract the elements because the rear retainer is solid. The rear section is also solid. I'll keep trying though.

North Wales is not known for its low humidity! I'll have a think about what to do about the woodworm but I'm pretty confident that its dead.