View Full Version : Mystery camera time...

03-13-2014, 07:21 AM
This latest addition to my modest collection has me stumped. Anyone got any idea?
It's 1/4 plate folding bed but not something I've come across before.

There are no markings apart from TOP on the lens board and the number 15 on the standard and the camera.



03-13-2014, 07:30 AM
I have no idea, but I wanted to comment. What a beautiful camera! The details are great. Sure a lot nicer than the plastic blobs that pass for cameras today.

03-13-2014, 07:49 AM
It's likely from the 1890s, and would be a fancy "tropical" model. I'm thinking either German or Italian, maybe. What's on the lens?

Kent in SD

Steve Smith
03-13-2014, 08:05 AM
Excellent. I have no idea what it is but can you show a view of the back?


03-13-2014, 08:23 AM
I'm ignorant on plate cameras.
What I find interesting is that key-hole quick-release mount at two extentions on the baseboard.

Jeff Kubach
03-13-2014, 08:42 AM
I don't know either, but sure is a nice looking camera.


03-13-2014, 09:49 AM
Thanks for the comments all, I like it too. The metal frame bed with quick release make for a very minimalist, light and versatile camera.

The lens is a Wray RR 5.5 inch which I don't think really fits the camera as the wheel stops the bed from closing in the camera properly. I wonder what shutter would be best? I don't have one small enough to fit with the lens when the camera is shut.

This is the back...


03-13-2014, 02:48 PM
Just a guess: The leather may have been stripped off by a previous owner. If it's a tropical, it would be made from teak. I can't tell from your images whether or not it is. That may be why there are no markings left on it. It is beautiful, though.

Sirius Glass
03-13-2014, 04:24 PM
I haven't the faintest idea.

03-14-2014, 02:43 PM
The wood looks to me to be mahogany and doesn't look like it's been stripped.

I'm beginning to think it may be a custom DIY job, if a pretty good one. So I guess it'll remain a mystery.
I shall find some plates and a wide angle lens and give it a try. :)

03-14-2014, 02:48 PM
Sure is purty! My steampunk lovin' neighbor would be all over that! Brass, wood and leather cause him to drool uncontrollably. :D

03-15-2014, 04:22 AM
Maybe we exchange that "toy camera" forum for "fetish camera"....

How is that whole assembly arrested in the casing to kep it from falling out during carrying?
And what is that metal part for, hiding behind the upper end of the handstrap?

03-16-2014, 11:47 AM
The bed clips into the casing... you can see the clip in the photo of the closed camera. And the little metal part swings around to keep the plate holder in place.

03-16-2014, 04:34 PM
It looks like the front panel allows some rise/fall (or shift with the camera on its side). No obvious tilt. That latching mechanism for the front standard looks like a good way to reduce volume, weight, and complexity.

03-17-2014, 04:41 AM
It is the lensboard that may enable some rise (or fall). Depending how much coverage behind it the front standard does yield.

03-19-2014, 01:38 PM
I haven't given up on this and was having another root around today when I came across this (http://www.dtristramludwig.com/images/featherweightmerge2.pdf)

A Shew feather weight which looks quite similar although half plate. Based on British patent 24647 it seems.

Ian Grant
03-20-2014, 02:48 AM
I haven't given up on this and was having another root around today when I came across this (http://www.dtristramludwig.com/images/featherweightmerge2.pdf)

A Shew feather weight which looks quite similar although half plate. Based on British patent 24647 it seems.

Having seen the camera myself on Monday I have to agree that despite my initial feeling it was possibly a German camera it's almost certainly a Shew but it's not listed in their adverts. It's a very nicely made camera. The fitting on the top took a finder. (I have an advert for the half plate model with one attached).

Shew were quite innovative with some of their designs which differed quite a bit from many of the other British cameras of the era.

I may have some plate holders that fit (I have around 200).


03-20-2014, 05:11 AM
The patent was from 1893 and with an 'Emile batault' so maybe this was an earlier version. Would Shew have put centimeters on the scale though? Did they export?
A plate holder would be good. Mine are darkslides or the thin metal ones, none of which will fit properly. I'll measure up. :)