Gandolfi Cameras

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by sanking, Aug 27, 2007.

  1. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Does anyone have information on the current situation of Gandolfi? I looked at their website today and it looks quite unlike what the site looked like some months ago.

    Sandy King
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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  3. Mark Layne

    Mark Layne Member

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    I see what you mean - doesn't look promising. As you know the Gandolfi brothers died in poverty with collections being taken up to help them out.
    Seems like the recent factory at Andover is now defunct.
    Mark
     
  4. JG Motamedi

    JG Motamedi Member

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  5. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I last had contact with the company 3 or 4 years ago, when they made a part for a view camera for me. I note that:
    a) The price list page hasn't been updated for 3 1/2 years
    b) Ed. Hill is describing himself as an engineering draftsman.
    It does rather look as if running Gandolfi is not uppermost in his mind!
     
  6. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    The collapse of the US dollar has reduced Gandolfi sales in the US to almost nothing, and as that was one of his bigger marets, Eddie has indeed been earning his money elsewhere. Gandolfi is still very much in business, but the cameras are even more bespoke than usual, i.e. you get hold of Eddie (increasingly difficult as he diversifies) and he makes it for you.

    The factory hasn't been in Andover for a long time, but rather, in a village a good way outside: a huge old farm/manor, converted to a small industrial estate. A few months ago Gandolfi moved from one unit to another, but as I say, last time I spoke to Eddie -- within the last three months, say -- they were still very much in business.

    Incidentally, 'dying in poverty with collections being taken up' is a considerable exaggeration. I have visited all but the latest Gandolfi factories in the last 40 years, beginning with New Cross. The Gandolfi brothers were pretty eccentric at the best of times, always afraid someone was going to 'steal their secrets', and I've been on good tems with Brian Gould (who bought them out and moved from New Cross to Andover) Sir Kenneth Corfield (who came in with Brian on the business, and took it over when Brian died) and Eddie (who bought it from Sir Kenneth).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 28, 2007
  7. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It looks a lot like it did last year, and the year before that, and...

    That could be worrying in itself, though...

    I tried getting hold of Eddie some months ago, but couldn't in the time I had available then. That was the main reason I brought the 4x5" Speed Graphic to Italy instead of the 7x5" Gandolfi - I couldn't find my #1 and #2 lens boards! If Eddie could have made me replacements in time - well, I would now have backup boards. I found them when I got home.
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The marketing and overall sales strategy of Gandolfi seemed far better when Sir Kenneth Corfield was involved. But then he had been involved designing and manufacturing innovative cameras in the 1950's and early 60's and had a great many industry contacts. To quote Hicks 2004 "Sir Kenneth Corfield is very much the Grand Old Man of the British camera industry, a man of legendary knowledge and experience".

    It is a problem that prices from Chinese manufacturers have seriously under-cut Gandolfi, and of course the low value of the US $ makes buying from the US extremely favourable for those of us in Europe, and as mentioned elsewhere makes Gandolfi cameras very expensive in the US.

    Ian
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 28, 2007
  9. Richard Kelham

    Richard Kelham Member

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    As far as I can see the only that's changed is the new banner across the top. Otherwise it's exactly as usual. I confess I haven't used one of their cameras since I was at college – and that's an awefully long time ago. Nice bit of kit though...

    Roger seems to be the man with the answer, as usual :smile:



    Richard
     
  10. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Well, I have three and a half Gandolfis (2x 4x5s from the 90s, a 5x7 conversion for one of the 4x5s, and a hundred-year-old 12x15) and with the exception of the Gandolfi brothers themselves who were from another age, I've got on really well with all the owners. But I have to confess (as I suggested on my other post) it's taking me longer and longer to get hold of Eddie.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  11. Mark Layne

    Mark Layne Member

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    Roger
    I distinctly remember a paragraph in a publication, and I believe it was the RPS journal, asking for donations to alleviate their financial situation.
    Mark
     
  12. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Mark,

    I think that may have been after the last surviving Gandolfi brother -- Fred, I'm pretty sure -- was hit by a car and badly injured. As I say, although I never knew the brothers especially well, I knew several people who did, and I'm reasonably confident I'd have more recollection of their dying in poverty if that had been the actual situation. The trouble is, with the exception of Sir Kenneth (whom I have not seen for three or four years) I have lost track of the people who knew them, or they have died: Colin Glanfield and Brian Gould spring to mind. But I'll try one other friend who might know, if I can track him down.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  13. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    When I get home, I'll have a look:

    When I received my 8x10" Traditional, said to be one of the last ones made by the brothers, I saw something inside the bellows. So I removed the back, and found...

    Fred Gandolfi's obituary.
     
  14. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Ole,

    Wow!

    What's the quality of the finish like? Fred in particular had very bad arthritis in his fingers, and those who know (not I) reckoned that there were occasional giveaways, such as the screw heads not being perfectly lined up, on the late cameras from Peckham (not New Cross, as I misremembered).

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  15. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Roger,

    I must admit I haven't inspected the camera that thoroughly - I've just used it. But I'm quite confident it had never been used before I got it. The finish is perfect, but I haven't checked the screw head alignment.
     
  16. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Ole,

    No sane person would. But some were apparently scandalized by such sloppiness. Apparently they are lined up again on a modern Precision, sorry, Classic [Edit: no, sorry, not Classic either, but Traditional, corrected by Ole, see below]. Eddie doesn't like the word 'Precision', because, as he says, they aren't. His are at least as precise as any competitor's cameras, but given the precision with which Eddie works in metal, he has difficulty applying the word to wood.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2007
  17. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Roger,

    It's "Traditional", not "Classic".

    But anyway, when I bought my first "Traditional" 7x5" (it's that traditional) I had a Linhof Technika III 13x18 to compare it with. I found no difference in the precision between the two cameras, which made it a lot easier to sell the Linhof and save a few kilos of weight.

    Compared to all other wooden cameras I've seen and/or played with, the Gandolfi's really deserve the "Precision" designation.
     
  18. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Ole,

    You're right, of course, both about the name and the precision. I can never remember the new name because I always call them Precision anyway...

    Cheers,

    Roger