View Full Version : Perka 10x15 Plate Camera
09-25-2012, 05:25 AM
I have recently acquired a plate camera in lovely, little used condition marked 'Perka Munchen' with a serial number of 19. This is a request for information about the company as I have so far been able to unearth little other than the following:
They were based in Munich and McKeown's has them in existence from 1922 to circa 1930. As such they must have been in direct competition with Linhof. The camera looks very similar to the early Linhof plate cameras. They did supply cameras to other disributors and one such was marked Silar. When they went out of business Linhof themselves took over the the production of Silar cameras. I am wondering why they went out of business. The quality of construction is equal to early Linhofs I have seen, so they may have been absorbed into into another company (Linhof?) or they may simply have been a casualty of the economic conditions of the early 1930s in Germany.
The camera itself comprises a die cast metal body, leather covered with nickel fittings. The GG measures 96mm x 145 mm approx (3.75" x 5.75") which I am assuming is postcard format. It is double extension with shift, backward tilt, rise and drop bed. There is a rotating back but no back movements. It has an interesting single lens direct vision type viewfinder which can be deployed in a landscape or portrait orientation to match the rotating back. It has its own style of flat lens board which has been well designed with a catch and two locking pins on the top.
I am very interested to know more about this company as extensive Google searches have produced little. I would also been interested in acquiring a plate holder to fit. I will post some pictures once I can regain access to my camera.
09-26-2012, 02:35 AM
Pictures attached as mentioned above.
Interestingly there is a very similar camera for sale at the Leica Shop (Westlicht Auctions):
Their model is different in that distances are actually marked on the focus wheel, so it looks like this camera has been specifically set up for use with the 180mm Tessar shown. It also has just one focusing wheel. On my camera there is a second wheel which acts as both a focus wheel for left hand use or by turning backwards as a focus lock. My camera has no distance scales marked anywhere so I guess it was used solely with GG focus.
10-23-2012, 01:48 AM
I have a 9x12 Perka, similar to yours Steve. I think they were also sometimes known as Plasmat cameras. I can't find that reference now, but I also tried finding information about the camera after I bought mine. Mine has a 15.3cm Meyer Plasmat, 32cm / 22cm cells. I guess yours is triple extension too? I don't know, but guess your camera might originally have had a convertible plasmat lens too. The extensions on my camera are set up to match infinity focus for the different cells, it's a great camera. There were (maybe still are) a few Meyer Plasmat lenses on ebay that I think got pulled out of Perka cameras.
10-23-2012, 03:50 AM
The Universal Silar was sold by A.O. Roth, the Hugo Meyer importer in the UK, they appear to be identical to the similar Linhof but at the time there was a lot of rebadging particularly by/for distributors.
Roth/Meyer sold the Universal with an f4 Plasmat or an f4.5 Plasmat set giving 3 folcal lenght options. They weren't cheap £46 5/6 for the 10x15cm modelwith the plain 7" Plasmat which splits to give a single cell of 12" FL, the f4.5 Plasmat set was cheaper £41 8s the lens set gave 6¾" combined and 9 7/8" and 14¼" separately. (That's 1929 prices). The lens was approx half the total price and ironically in the UK the Linhofs were cheaper due to the lower price of the Tesaar lenses compareds to the more modern Meyer Plasmat. 7" f4.5 Tessar £13 5s in a Compur, the Meyer f4 Plasmat is £22 10 in a standard mount, a Compur adds about £3 that's a very significant difference in lens prices.
Just looking at my 1928 BJPA and it's called a - Uninversal Plasmat (convertible) (3 Foci) "Silar" Camera. Sands Hunter are the Linhof importer at that point.
I'm sure I have another earlier BJPA with the listing for both the Silar Universal and the Lihnof in the new goods section, possibly 1921, I'll look when I'm back in the UK later this week.
There's another factor which has just struck me companies like Hugo Meyer in the 1920's and 30's are selling cameras as a platform for their own lenses, The Silar obviously has Meyer lenses but they also sold many other cameras without the original manufacturers name including a 35mm Multiple Exposure Focal Plane Camera with an f1.5 Meyer Plasmat lens, quite obviously a Leica. Linhofs are sold with CZJ lenses.
Another example in the UK is Dallmeyer Reflex cameras, these are sourced from at lest 3 competitors Thornton Pickard, Houghton (Butcher), Newman & Guardia.
10-23-2012, 04:03 PM
I incorrectly stated in my original post that my Perka camera was double extension; it is in fact a triple extension. I was able to get a little more information from European collectors. It is a Perka Model 1 but it does appear that Perka cameras are something of a mystery both in terms of when they started trading and when the company actually stopped. I do have a name of one of the directors though. Herr Heinrich Gerl was no longer managing director from the beginning of 1930 (Die Photographische Industrie 15. Jan. 1930 p60). However I have no information as to whether his departure signified the end of trading or just the end of his involvement. I have been able to find nothing else about this gentleman despite extensive internet searches. However a another 'Gerl' does pop up quite frequently as a graphic designer also based in Munich. Possibly a descendant or maybe just a common name.
I was able to find a bit of contemporary adverting but it is very poorly defined and difficult to read. I have as yet not been able to translate this. See Pic.
10-24-2012, 11:44 AM
It turned out the Silar and Linhof Universal were both introduced around 1927, they showed up in the same 1928 BJPA as New Products the previous year.
I'll get around to scanning both the adverts and the Product relesase details in the next few days if you're interested. I picked the 1928 BJPA up to bring back from Turkey yesterday and was reading it on my flights early this morning :)
10-26-2012, 03:49 AM
It would be interesting to see if there is a difference between the earlier Perka Silar and the later Linhof Silar. My earliest BJPA is 1930 and it pretty much bears out the spec. that Ian has quoted. By this time the Silar also has a swing front which my Perka does not. Also it only has one large knob controllling focus whereas my camera has two.
10-26-2012, 04:45 AM
I can't scan the 1928 BJPA unfortunately as the spine will break, (I've just tried), however I'll be setting up to shoot some restoration projects later today so will copy the relevant pages then, there's quite a few. Wallace and Heaton and one or two other companies sold the cameras and their adverts often contain additional or different information.
Just checked my 1927 BJPA and there's no refernces to Linhof or Silar.
11-04-2012, 12:18 PM
Apologies the pages were quite difficult to copy, in the end I did manage to scan them and also found another very similar camera.
59351 59352 59353 59354
And this one I'd never seen before . . . . .
while not identical it's quite similar. Soho (Kershaw) ceased production of cameras during the war although their adverts stated they were planning to resume once the war ended, which they did but back under the Kershaw brand name. This camera was not included.
11-06-2012, 01:57 PM
The ad. for the Silar looks very similar to the second later version of rhe Perka in McKeown's. You would expect this given the date. The finder on the Linhof in the 1928 ad. is in a different position as is the finder on the early Perka that I have.
01-06-2013, 05:52 AM
There are some pics of a smaller Perka here:
01-06-2013, 10:59 AM
Thank you for that. This camera is exactly the same design as mine although it is in 9x12 format rather than 10x15. Hedda Morrison would appear to have enjoyed a long and interesting life although her Perka camera seems only to have been used for her earlier photography, her Rolleiflex being preferred for her work in Beijing.