View Full Version : Got a Thornton Pickard - Can't figure out the model

Nick Ahlgrim
25-Apr-2011, 15:11
I just bought a camera off Ebay and am having trouble identifying the model. It was listed for relatively cheap and I was being very impulsive so I bought it, even though listing gave very little information about the camera. Almost none. And I am very new to the large format game.

Now its being shipped to me in the US from England and I am trying to figure out what I've got. Its a Thornton Pickard (that much I know) and I don't know what model. I think it is a half plate or maybe 8x10? I am finding many models that look somewhat like it, but a few things don't match.

One thing I can't seem to find on any other cameras is the brass fitting for the lens rise positioned on the front right of the lens board.

Its in pretty rough shape, so I am going to try and restore it. Its missing the brass tripod mount and maybe some other pieces. Hoping I can find parts somewhere.

I hope you can help me out. This seems to be the place to ask.

Still don't know how to post pictures, so a uploaded screen grabs from the auction om my flickr page - http://www.flickr.com/photos/nickahlgrim/

25-Apr-2011, 15:37
Nick-- It looks like a British quarter plate or half plate camera, and I don't see a back. It has a TP shutter, but it's not clear if the camera is a TP. There were lots of makers of early 20th century wood and brass plate cameras. Quarter plate is smaller than 4x5, so you may have a project on your hands. Your best bet may be to adapt a 4x5 back with an extension. A half plate camera is more easily adapted to either 4x5 or 5x7. You can mount a board to the bottom or you can cut a roundel that fits the cutout. There's some good info for IDing at http://www.woodandbrass.co.uk/index.php

Nick Ahlgrim
25-Apr-2011, 19:31

It does not have a back. I was planning on making a 4x5 back. Hopefully it turns out to be a 1/2 plate.

The man selling it advertised it as a Pickard. I guess it could be another body with a TP shutter. He did mention he knew nothing about the camera. I will put the rest of the photos up right now. Hopefully they will add some more insight into the maker.

I sent an email earlier today to the guy who runs the woodandbrass site asking if he could ID it for me. I am seeing lots of things that match up on the site, but nothing exactly.

I am excited to get this camera, take it apart and clean it up.

25-Apr-2011, 19:51
With the new photos--it looks more like a half plate camera. It's tough to judge without anything else for scale or seeing the back--but it's larger than quarter plate. The seller took a look at the only badge on the camera and saw the TP name on the shutter. Don't be surprised if you can't ID it because of the large numbers of makers and many of them used the same suppliers for brass fittings. Plus, there were usually incremental changes over time--fittings and components changed. It should be fun to restore and you can get the lens cleaned up and the shutter running again.

Nick Ahlgrim
26-Apr-2011, 10:15
Just got an email from the seller and he says the back of the camera is 8x8in edge to edge (not including the bottom.) 1/2 plate?

Still haven't found a good match for Id-ing the maker. I am noticing Ensign Victos have the same brass plates under the lens board as my camera. Would that be a part that was on other cameras as well?


Nick Ahlgrim
26-Apr-2011, 10:41
Here is a Victo that looks somewhat like mine with the same plates.

Andrew Plume
28-Apr-2011, 10:47
the lens is a Thornton-Pickard Beck Symmetrical, probably the easiest aspect to identify

as Barry has rightly said there were numerous British manufacturers - to me what sways the case against it being a T-P is the section of the front panel for rise and fall

anyhow Eric who is the owner of the cameras on 'the woodandbrass' website is clearly the man for id purposes - his knowledge is vast and he's also a lovely guy to correspond with

good luck


Nick Ahlgrim
4-May-2011, 10:57
Thanks Andrew

Still waiting for the camera to arrive. Hopefully I can figure out who made it when it shows up. For all the time I have spent starring at the photos and researching the camera type I still don't have the slightest clue as to who made it. They are all beginning to look the same.

Its still a mystery camera as of right now.

I just got a lens that covers up to 12x20 (Computar 270mm f9) So I may just end up fixing this camera up and selling it to pay for a larger format.

Steven Tribe
4-May-2011, 12:31
Have you searched for screw holes? Sometimes the positioning of these and number (2 or 4) can give a clue as to the makers plate - if any.

Nick Ahlgrim
29-May-2011, 19:38
So, I got the camera and I am almost done with its restoration. Still don't have any idea who made it. Haven't made the back for it yet, that will get started after I am done working on all the brass.

One of the previous owners had replaced the bellows and used a staple gun to attach them to the lens board. So under the shutter there is some damage in the wood from where the staples reached through. Might be making a new lens board to make up for the damage. The original bellows were made of leather, I can tell from the remains on the frame. Also, it looks like they were square cornered. The new bellows are made of a modern material of some type.

Today I finished making the tripod base to fill the hole. But with the base I wont be able to keep the TP shutter on. Unless I hollow it out, which I don't think I am going to do.

Very happy with the way its turning out. Hopefully I will be done within the next week.

Thought I should give this thread an update, hoping someone will stumble across it and know the manufacturer. I will post some more photos as soon as I start to reassemble all the pieces.