View Full Version : Help Required Identifying Magazine Style Plate Holder

Steve S
05-13-2012, 10:28 AM
Picked up out of curiosity at yesterday's flea market.
There is no identification except 'Made in England' and 'R8' stamped on the holder. It is made to hold 12 5x4 glass plates or 12 5x4 sheet films in idividual holders numbered 1 to 12. The numbers can be seen through the ruby window on the magazine. The holders supplied with this example were for plates but a switch on the magazine can be set for plates or film so I assume film holders must have been available too.
Pulling the tambour slatted cover across the holder does the equivalent job of pulling the darkslide in making the plate ready for exposure. Once exposed, pushing the cover back ejects the exposed plate into the green suede pouch at the end of the magazine. The next plate is then automatically placed in readiness for the next exposure when the whole process will be repeated.
The edges of the holder are a bit like the fast loading design used on Thornton Pickard plate holders in that the flange along the edge of the holder is only partial, allowing for faster attachment and removal.
I can only guess that this is most likely from a Marion, Houghton or Thornton Pickard camera being English made. It is probably later in that there is an option for film or plate and the fact that it is for 5x4 rather than half plate or quarter plate.
An ingenious and nicely made item but a mystery.

Mustafa Umut Sarac
05-13-2012, 12:10 PM
Wait Ian Grant's reply , he knows British Cameras at an expert level.

Steve S
05-15-2012, 02:18 PM
I am now in a position to answer my own question!
By checking the excellent resources at Camera Eccentric I have tracked this item down to be a Marion 'Soho' Changing Box which was made to accommodate film formats 2.5x3.5 inch, quarter plate, post card, 5x4 and half plate. In (I would guess 1920s) this item would have set you back a not inconsiderable 5 10/-
I am now looking for a Marion Soho in 5x4 format to go with it. A long term view needs to be taken on this one methinks.

Mustafa Umut Sarac
05-15-2012, 02:55 PM
Steve ,

Ian is at South England and attented to a Albumen Workshop. I am happy you found the answer. I am not expert about these items but sometimes I help to researchers by the act of luck. 1920s , the most exciting and beatiful years. Dont forget to dress like the oldtimers when you buy your camera.


Peter L
06-02-2012, 08:38 AM

Steve, I have what appears to be what you're looking for, found amongst my late father's belongings. (He was a photographer). No manufacturer's name on it. The only clue is what's written on the label on the box lid - 5x4 soho changing box.



Steve S
06-02-2012, 10:11 AM
Hi Peter,
I think you may have misread my post. I had already acquired the changing box in 5x4 format and was looking for a Marion Soho camera in this format to go with it. As luck would have it I found such an item at Photographica a couple of weeks ago with a jammed shutter which I was fortunately able to unjam. The whole set up has now been cleaned up nicely and is in full working order. See pic.
However I would be very interested to know if your fathers changing box carries any markings and if so what. I may be interested if it is in 5x4 format and has the film rather then plate holders ('septums') inside. There should be 12 of them. If they are film septums they will just allow you to slide the width of a piece of film into the turned over edge. If they are for glass plates they will be a good bit wider.
Thanks for responding

Ian Grant
06-02-2012, 12:43 PM
I didn't spot this thread before, as Umut says I was away on a workshop :D

One of the major suppliers of changing boxes was A.Adams & Co who were selling them for Plates and Cut film by 1927, plates only in 1921. Film packs seem to have been far more common. Looking through a 1927 BJPA theres not much cut film available from any manufacturer although film packs had been available for some time, Ilford offered a choice of 2 cut films and 17 different types of plates (excluding X-ray & Process).

I bought some 5x4 Plate holders last year quite a few had pressed film inserts and were made to be dual purpose but one a pre-WWII Graflex holder has thin plain metal sheet with folded edges similar to those often used to covert 9x12 plate holders for film. You might be ale to make some yourself for the septums. they are very thin.

Nice camera BTW I'm jealous :D I just missed out on one a few days ago. I supply shutter curtain material for these older Focal plane shutters, the last was 6ft x 8", but don't have a British relfex camera yet . . . . . . . .


Steve S
06-02-2012, 02:33 PM
Thanks for the information on A. Adams Ian. My BJPAs only go back to 1930 but there is an entry here for both an Automatic Changing Magazine and a Bag Changing Box of which the latter is quite similar to that used on the Soho. The Changing Box that I have has a switch on the side which can be set to film or plate. This has the effect of widening or narrowing the slit through which the exposed film is fed back through into the box to the back of the stack.
I do have a load of old MPP film holders that have removable 5x4 film inserts so I may try half a dozen of these to see how I get on.

Ian Grant
06-02-2012, 04:58 PM
Steve, it was MPP plate holders I ws referring to, I bought maybe eight last year with the removable dfilm adapter and I have more which are the same except the film adapter parr is screwed or riveted in place. However that adapter plate is what I called a pressing, I think it'd be too thick to use in your septums. The other one are thin enough,

I did have a brainwave which I'll try and test with some 9x12 plate holders in the next few days, If it works it should work with any format plate holders.

My guess is your changing box is late 1920's or 30's.

My BJPA's are not too bad for the 30's and 3 in the 20's and a couple earlier, extremely useful resources. I've every one from 1939-63 now. But I have many books from the 1880's onwards.

Perhaps the most interesting of the BJPA's are the 20's and 30's. There's the suddend grouping of companies in the 20's in both the UK & Germany and then the quantum shift from LF/Plate cameras to Miniature 120 & 35mm not really mirrored in the same way in the US. This is mirrored in other ways with a shift to utra fine grain and high definition developers in Europe which carries on after WWII with Kodak selling products in Europe never sold in the US. Needs another thread to expand this though :D


Steve S
06-03-2012, 04:25 AM
There are two types of MPP film insert that I have come across. There is flat type where the metal surface that the film sits on is thin and totally flat and this is the one that is most likely to be suitable. The other type has a corrugated surface which makes it thicker. It also occurred to me that maybe I could nip the edges of the septum in slightly with a small set of pliers but I am loath to do this really.
I look forward to the results of your brainwave Ian.

Peter L
06-03-2012, 05:28 AM
Hi Steve. I can't tell what's inside as I can't open it. Something seems to be jammed. There's a little knob on the side which allows you to select film or plate. This turns ok. I suspect that corrosion in some form has taken its toll. I don't want to try taking it apart in case I mess it up. There are no markings on the box.

Steve S
06-04-2012, 07:02 AM
Hi Peter,
In the position that you have it pictured, the cover that removes to allow you to remove the plates is itself covered by the roller blind. If you turn the box over you should be able to see inside it. If there are plate holders in there you will see either a flat black metal surface or an opaque glass (if a plate is loaded) or flat film surface (if film is loaded. If you apply pressure to this surface it will depress and spring back when you release it.
The roller blind on the surface we can see in the picture should pull back across the face of the back revealing a cover with a ruby window in. My guess if it ijammed is that a plate is partially stuck in the exit hole that is used to eject it into the suede bag. You may be able to feel this and push it back.
Either way, what do you want for the holder in it's current state? I may be up for a gamble!!