View Full Version : What camera is this? 1890's?

tom thomas
11-Aug-2011, 09:06
Does anyone know what kind of camera this might be. fuzzy photo. Interesting lens and sync mechanism I think. bellows bad. 4X5 format. From scale of the guitars, looks huge but I think they are minature guitars. Check out the size of books.


E. von Hoegh
11-Aug-2011, 09:13
I can't really date it any better than you have, but those "synch mechanisms" are air pistons/cylinders, one to release the shutter, one to regulate the shutter speeds. Say 1890 - 1910?

tom thomas
11-Aug-2011, 10:04
thanx E. I did a google and found what looks like a Bausch and Lomb shutter from 1891. It sure resembles the one in this fuzzy photo. I also found a Lizars model from England/Scotland that resembles the camera. At least there is a very similar glass viewfinder stored on the coverplate in front center.

Any idea of value? I'm drooling to refurb it but wonder if it might be worth it?


11-Aug-2011, 10:06
It's a general class of camera known as a Premo. I have one called a Pony Premo in 4x5, with a Bausch and Lomb lens in a Unicum shutter. I have another in half plate (4 3/4 x 6 1/2) that I've mounted a Dagor on. They tend to be very light (my Pony Premo weighs about 2 1/2 pounds), and I've seen many that were perfectly light tight and usable. They were made by the Rochester Optical Company, among others. There is a catalog at http://www.piercevaubel.com/cam/catalogs/1899rochesteropticalcolp325.htm showing a version called the Reko, that was made from 1899-1907.

tom thomas
11-Aug-2011, 11:29
Thanx RJ.
It sure looks like the Pony Premo, except the leather cover is missing from the outer case. Appears to be finished mahogany. Perhaps someone modified it.

From my search, not worth what the seller is asking with a bad bellows. I'll pass.


12-Aug-2011, 06:33
There aren't many collectors of these old folders, so the prices are usually very cheap. When you can get a perfect condition one for not much, I wouldn't pay anything for a broken down one.

Steven Tribe
12-Aug-2011, 06:57
The leatherette covering can be very dry/flacky and previous owners have often attempted to cheat by making a mahogany finish. There are usually a few places where the wood is not so great or full of screws.

These are often called rare tropical versions by ignorant/decitful sellers!

13-Aug-2011, 14:56
Just a little bit of Deardorff Trivia.. Laben F Deardorff worked at Rochester Optical till around 1914. He did some design work on the Premo line of cameras. I feel it was the rear swing and tilt some of the models could do. In my collection I have a Premo he owned. It has front swing, tilt and shift. Rear swing and tilt. and a note.
"Too expensive to build". A signature and a 1913 date. Imagine all the out of focus pictures that camera would cause. And the new phrase "Come on dear Take the picture!"