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Thread: Vageeswari in India?

  1. #1

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    Vageeswari in India?

    Anyone know if there is still a stock of these cameras somewhere in india and how to locate them for sale (In India now)...thanks.
    David Blumenfeld

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    IanG's Avatar
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    Re: Vageeswari in India?

    There's a UK seller on Ebay who's cornered the market for Vageeswari cameras. Photolud I think he calls himself. He must have good contacts in India to get his cameras.

    Ian

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    Re: Vageeswari in India?

    I think Photolud just buys from Indian ebayers and then adds a markup. I've seen at least one camera go this way.

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    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: Vageeswari in India?

    While no photographer nshould be compelled to provide a eeds a reason for wanting any given camera: What is compelling about these cameras?

    I am not familiar with the brand . Years ago, I had a 5x7/4x5 Rajah that I still regret selling off. It looked just like a Baby Deardorff, but in a tropical wood.Are these similar?
    Drew Bedo
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    Re: Vageeswari in India?

    Drew

    I've seen them 'in the flesh', imo there's nothing at all overly compelling about them, particularly as they have limited movements. They're not overly heavy

    Having said that, the wet plate followers do seem to be fairly fond of them for their 10 x 12 work

    I'm pretty sure that John Alix who is an Indian (and based there) and who has his own ebay shop has some kind of connection to these 'Vag' Cameras, he's the chap whose lenses appear on ebay and have been stripped of their old character.................enough said...............and he is one and the same person who Steven Tribe 'indicated' recently

    regards

    andrew

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    IanG's Avatar
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    Re: Vageeswari in India?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Bedo View Post
    I am not familiar with the brand . Years ago, I had a 5x7/4x5 Rajah that I still regret selling off. It looked just like a Baby Deardorff, but in a tropical wood.Are these similar?
    The Vageeswari cameras are based on Houghton (Butcher) cameras so different to the Rajah. Houghton (India) Ltd, later to become Houghton Butcher (Eastern) Ltd made cameras in India before WWII and had Sales offices in Bombay and Calcutta they were also the distributors for Ross lenses in India.

    Houghton Butcher (Eastern) Ltd itself was owned by British Photographic Industries. Ltd and a shareholder was Major The Hon.. J. J. Astor who was aide-de-camp to the Viceroy of India 1911-14, he later became an MP and Chairman of the Times (which he'd bought) and was a director of Hambros Bank, Phoenix Assurance and the GWR.

    It's probable that Houghton (India) formed in 1911 had taken over part of the John Blees business based in Calcutta, he ran a studio and was also an importer and manufacturer, he was advertising locally made cameras in 1895, he had been a well known wet plate photographer in India as far back as the mid 1870's. In his own words in a 1910 advert “John Blees' Cameras known to stand the Indian Climate.” He was also the distributor of Ross lenses in India prior to Houghton (India) Ltd. By 1920 the John Blees company was owned by J H Gordon M.P.S. (a chemist) and was operating mainly as a studio again.

    It's known that Vageeswari Camera Works had a link to a British manufacturer, their name doesn't seem to appear until after WWII by which time Houghton Butcher had been restructured after their head quarters was destroyed in the Blitz in 1940. Ensign emerged and contiued trading into the 1960's, there was still an Indian subsidiary, however large format camera production had ceased. That raises the question of what happened to the Indian workshop(s) that had once made Houghton Butcher LF cameras after WWII.

    During the 1930's the Japanese had copied the Indian made LF cameras as a consequence there are cameras like the Asahi field camera, the Asanuma, some sold by Charten, which all look very similar to the Vageeswari's.

    Ian
    Last edited by IanG; 12-Nov-2012 at 10:55. Reason: add

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    Re: Vageeswari in India?

    Ian, good stuff indeed

    best

    andrew

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    IanG's Avatar
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    Re: Vageeswari in India?

    Andrew, with a few more early BJPA's I could possibly fill in more of the early gaps but copies older than the 1920's now sell for rather high prices. Then there's the lack of knowledge from India as to what happened to Houghton Butcher (Eastern) Ltd's operations after the companies re-structure.

    BRITISH PHOTOGRAPHIC INDUSTRIES LTD.
    Registered in February, 1915, in 1936 owns:

    Butchers Film Services, Ltd
    Austin Edwards, Ltd
    Ensign, Ltd
    Elliott & Sons, Ltd
    Fordham & Co, Ltd
    Houghton Butcher Manuf. Co, Ltd
    Houghton-Butcher (Eastern), Ltd
    Photo Supplies, Ltd

    Some of its Directors are associated with

    Fabric-meter Co., Ltd.),
    Butcher, Curnow & Co., Ltd
    Capener, Ltd
    Premier Film Printing Co., Ltd

    Exactlty which company went into liquidation after the bombing of the Holborn headquarters is hard to tell as most kept going, it appears to be the sales and distribution less important when most of the production would have been Government contracts.

    Much information to unearth !!!!

    Ian
    Last edited by IanG; 13-Nov-2012 at 14:03. Reason: typo

  9. #9

    Re: Vageeswari in India?

    I know that this is a thread several months old (hello Andrew Plume! Long time no see! And I beg to differ about the compelling nature of Vags--I have one and two more coming...). But just an update on the availability on VCW cameras. Indeed, UK-based Photolud was/is getting some from India, doing some restoration and reselling at a markup. Several of my wetplate friends have bought from him, some happy and several not because of misrepresentation of condition of camera (one friend is STILL trying to get restitution for a pinhole-filled bellows that was described as light tight). John Alex was/is a major supplier via eBay, but he has recently become disillusioned with eBay fees and some buyers backing out of deals. So, I've partnered with him to sell direct, mainly to wetplaters in the Facebook forum I administer. If you search eBay now for these cameras you're not going to find much.
    As LF and especially ULF field cameras they are great values, well built, and rather cool looking. You can't find comparable price/performance in ULF. Also attractive to wetplaters is the fact that they have book-style film/plate holders that need no modifications for wetplate save perhaps sanding and sealing frame to protect from silver mitrate drippings.
    In any case, that's where most of these cameras are sourced. John is too busy acquiring cameras and lenses and packing and shipping so he's commissioned me to advertize for him, so if you're interested you can PM me.

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    Re: Vageeswari in India?

    Sorry to hear that John has had troubles with buyers - that seems to be a very common experience nowadays. I've got three Vageeswaris and all of them came from John and I have no complaint about the service or goods I got from him.

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