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Thread: Help Identifying an old Gundlach bellows camera

  1. #1

    Question Help Identifying an old Gundlach bellows camera

    Hello,

    I'm trying to identify and old Gundlach Manhattan camera that was my late father's. I looked through a bunch of old Gundlach catalogs that are posted on line along with a lot of images of various cameras and can't find anything that quite matches. It looks like it may be some sort of hybrid of the Korona View and the Criterion View; the metal lens mounting brackets match them. The front lens frame swivels both up and down and side to side, but doesn't look like the Home Portrait or Pictorial View cameras. It has a much smaller wood frame arch below the lens bracket than I see on Criterions. The base is tapped for a tripod and there'a an additional base plate with the track to extend the bellows further. The frame is all wood, the handle strap is leather, and the bellows black. The gold decal on the lens bracket says "Gundlach Manhattan Optical Co. Rochester, N.Y." The only other markings I found were stamps in the underside of the wood bases (including the extension piece) that say "41".

    The lens on it says "5x7 Ilex Photoplastic f4.5 Focus 10 1/2 Inches No291 Rochester, NY." The adjustable f-stop (?) range is 4.5 - 32 and the other gauge on the top of the lens goes from 1 - 100 and also has a "B" and a "T" set points after the 100. There's a separate lens that says only "Medium Softness" and has 133-25 scribed on the inner rim (no other markings). The film box that the other lens is in has a handwritten note by my late father that says "lens for view camera".

    There are extra wood pieces that fit the front and others that fit the back brackets, along with four pieces with two removable metal plates (I'm guessing the photographic plates went between these) and two different size glass pieces that have metal or fabric (one each) side pieces that open up into a box. There's also a plunger to open the lens to take the picture, a couple of metal brackets that I have no clue what they're for, 12 rods with a hook and two clips each (that I guess are for drying processed photos), a black cloth (plastic lined) Ingento changing bag, a square 2' x 2' black cotton cloth (hood for the photographer?), and a Ries Camera Company Swing Head Model C wooden tripod with a 3-digit serial number (some of the plastic knobs have disintigrated; I'm guessing that it's from the 1930s or 40s).

    I'd appreciate any help that you can provide in figuring out what this is. I can send photos of any of it, but please let me know (in lay terms) what to take pictures of.

    Thank you, in advance,

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    Hamilton, Canada
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    Re: Help Identifying an old Gundlach bellows camera

    Welcome.
    If you added your locale to your profile someone in your area might step up to help.
    Otherwise front rear and side views of your camera would help.
    The extra lens is very likely a second alternate rear lens for your Photoplastic lens. Does the back lens of the Photoplasic look similar? One will give a softer picture than the other.

  3. #3

    Re: Help Identifying an old Gundlach bellows camera

    Quote Originally Posted by cowanw View Post
    Welcome.
    If you added your locale to your profile someone in your area might step up to help.
    Otherwise front rear and side views of your camera would help.
    The extra lens is very likely a second alternate rear lens for your Photoplastic lens. Does the back lens of the Photoplasic look similar? One will give a softer picture than the other.
    Thanks Bill. Here are some pictures Hoping this works, as I haven't done this before):
    Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #4

    Re: Help Identifying an old Gundlach bellows camera

    More pictures:

    Top view: Click image for larger version. 

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    Collapsed L side: Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	186111 Collapsed R side: Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #5

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    Re: Help Identifying an old Gundlach bellows camera

    I presume from the lens that the camera is a 5x7 inch. You can measure the opening of the back or the sliding metal thingees to be sure. The back looks like it might be a home made 4x5 reduction back; It is a different colour. the metal struts and the cutout on the bottom of the front panel look like an aftermarket job for front swings and tilts; quite good actually. it doesn`t seem to fit one model perfectly, but is a Korona variation of some sort. Perhaps some one who knows these better will chime in.

  6. #6

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    Jan 2009
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    Re: Help Identifying an old Gundlach bellows camera

    Just making sure you have found this site!

    http://www.piercevaubel.com/cam/gund.htm

    Photos are often more reliable than catalogue drawings.

  7. #7
    Foamer
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    Oct 2010
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    Re: Help Identifying an old Gundlach bellows camera

    I agree this is a standard 5x7 Korona that has been modified. I have one with both 4x5 and 5x7 backs. Koronas can be roughly dated by the company name on the bottom of the front standard. Mine dates to about 1925.


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  8. #8

    Re: Help Identifying an old Gundlach bellows camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Tribe View Post
    Just making sure you have found this site!

    http://www.piercevaubel.com/cam/gund.htm

    Photos are often more reliable than catalogue drawings.
    Thanks! That was where I started my research on it and looked through all of the catalogs that he has posted. I saw some lenses in the catalogs by the same company, but not this particular lens

  9. #9
    Foamer
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    Re: Help Identifying an old Gundlach bellows camera

    Quote Originally Posted by GomersPile View Post
    Thanks! That was where I started my research on it and looked through all of the catalogs that he has posted. I saw some lenses in the catalogs by the same company, but not this particular lens

    Lenses often didn't come with a camera. Usually the camera purchaser would buy whatever they liked at the dealer. On cameras this old chances are the lens was added during the time the camera was in active use. Often the best clues are in the lens board--does the finish and material match the rest of the camera? Are there empty screw holes suggesting at one time another lens was there? Is the date of the lens or shutter different from the camera? I don't consider a lens to be a crucial clue to dating a camera, but it can suggest how advanced the photographer was.


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  10. #10

    Re: Help Identifying an old Gundlach bellows camera

    Quote Originally Posted by cowanw View Post
    I presume from the lens that the camera is a 5x7 inch. You can measure the opening of the back or the sliding metal thingees to be sure. The back looks like it might be a home made 4x5 reduction back; It is a different colour. the metal struts and the cutout on the bottom of the front panel look like an aftermarket job for front swings and tilts; quite good actually. it doesn`t seem to fit one model perfectly, but is a Korona variation of some sort. Perhaps some one who knows these better will chime in.
    I'm not sure what you mean by "the sliding metal thingees". The film plates(?) with it say "4x5 Graphic Film". If those are what you're referring to, then they measure 4 3/8" x 6" when pulled from the holder (not counting the metal top with the wire handle).

    The front piece that holds the lens also doesn't appear original, but a homemade piece to fit the lens. There's another wooden backplate with it that has had a frame with the same black vinyl(?) material that I see on some of the Gundlach camera boxes that has the same 4" x 5" cutout and fits the large and small pop-up shade thinies (no idea what they actually are)

    There's also what appears to be the original 5" x 7" back plate, as the wood matches and it has a "Kodak Film Holder 5x7 U.S. Pat. 2056144". It has the little metal pins so that it can be mounted for either landscape or portrait pictures.

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