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  1. #1

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    Nadar's plate camera. A museum piece or just another restoration project?

    If you saw this thread on the LF forum, it's the same old dog with a different collar. Just looking to get extra mileage where possible. ;-)

    So, I took delivery of a circa 1883 "Sands & Hunter's Exhibition Camera" today. (5x4). I was hoping to just unwrap it, and get right to using it. But to my surprise I found it to be in very original condition. Too original for comfort. So now the question arises . . . Should I restore it to functional condition so that I can use it, or should I start calling the museums and auction houses?

    I am inclined to just restore it with the correct lens and a functional bellows. But if that's going to knock 20 grand off it's value, maybe I'll think it over first.

    Description:
    Circa 1883 Sands & Hunter's Exhibition Camera; 3 plate holders, book type, all serial/model numbers matching the camera serial/model number (#446); One holder still contains two unique patented paper holders that were inserted while emulsions were still wet. Papers appear to be hand-coated albumen.
    Both embedded name plaques on the chassis appear to be an engraved ivory type material.

    Here are some images of the camera in question. This should take just a few seconds to load.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/4478013...54578555/show/

    The original advertisement for camera . . . for those who have access to google books.
    http://books.google.com/books?id=ZPA...%2C1534&edge=0

    And a special note for this case: It is noted in "The studios of Europe" by Pritchard 1882 that Nadar (fils) said , quote . . . "I am coming to London in a little while, and for no other reason than to purchase instruments and apparatus.".

    He was speaking on the high quality of the English apparatus. This may be one of those purchases?? As far as I know this camera was new on the market as of 1883.

    Oh! And I nearly forgot . . . I also read that Louis Gandolfi made cameras for some of these London distributors ('80-'85) prior to spinning off to be an independent. Could this be one of his cameras? More research is definitely required. But, if anyone can supply more information to substantiate or discount the rumor, it would be very much appreciated.

    Enjoy! All thoughts are welcome.
    Last edited by anon12345; 09-18-2010 at 02:03 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #2
    ajmiller's Avatar
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    It might be my browser but your links don't appear to work for me.

    - Tony
    regards,

    Tony

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by ajmiller View Post
    It might be my browser but your links don't appear to work for me.

    - Tony
    Thanks Tony. At least one link should work now. That's what I get for cutting and pasting, and not verifiying.

    Direct links to camera images that might function . . .
    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4092/...016ca459_b.jpg
    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4105/...7a915ed8_b.jpg
    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4089/...7842c635_b.jpg
    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4125/...270b9c7a_b.jpg
    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4088/...d13d0473_b.jpg
    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4128/...8d85eee2_b.jpg
    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4154/...534c6bff_b.jpg
    Last edited by anon12345; 09-18-2010 at 02:17 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #4

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    Collectors like the petite of old finishes,so in there eye's it would lose value as an antique.Form my point of view I would enjoy a complete over haul to working condition,then use it or let it set in the parlor.If it were rebuilt it would last much longer,maybe another hundred years .All so it does not look in to bad of shape where a guy could put a coat of wax or oil and polish the brass a little,may be replace bellows.

  5. #5

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    Good morning Cesar,
    In my humble opinion, this camera is not a product of the Gandolfi family.
    Sam H.

  6. #6
    michaelbsc's Avatar
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    I can't tell you much about the value of the camera as it sits right now. If it is a true museum piece, then I personally would get rid of it to someone who would care. That may be something you care about, and if so then you've got a find.

    OTOH, if you are like me you want working things.

    I once bought a very nice fountain pen and shocked the clerck when I filled it with ink and signed the recipt with it. She thought I would put it in the box and "collect" it like everybody else. I told her pens that didn't write were useless.

    MB
    Michael Batchelor
    Industrial Informatics, Inc.
    www.industrialinformatics.com

    The camera catches light. The photographer catches life.

  7. #7

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    Looks like an ugly amount of iffy restoration. I think cleaning it and restoring it mechanically and working the original finishes with a conservators wax would be the way to go. But if you went through with it and used it I think that would be wonderful. And the thought that someone a hundred years from now could be using it is really exciting.

  8. #8

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    i would just restore it and use it,
    and make sure to dress up as a mime/clown once in a while !

  9. #9
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Petite? Don't you mean patina Mike

    The camera is very similar to a Dallmeyer 5x4 wet/dry plate camera & a couple of others, there are just some slight differences. That's a nice camera but not worth thousands unfortunately

    There are still camera's out there that look almost new, with near perfect bellows despite being over 120 years old, these are the one's that fetch thousands. I looked at 3 or 4 pre 1900's cameras last week in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

    How much a manufacturer made themselves back then and what proportion was sub-contacted and then just assembled is mostly lost in history. BJP Almanacs for that era show that there were companies selling pre-made wood work and all the brass fittings ready for building a variety of camera types.

    It's worth restoring sympathetically - by that I mean don't over restore trying to make it look new again, it's a shame you need to replace the bellows but that's not unusual unfortunately.

    As to a Louis Gandolfi connection, that's more about where he learnt his skills than his possibly having any input to the design etc he was still under 20.

    Ian

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
    . . . There are still camera's out there that look almost new, with near perfect bellows despite being over 120 years old, these are the one's that fetch thousands. I looked at 3 or 4 pre 1900's cameras last week in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul . . . .
    When those new looking 120 year old cameras have the little gold sticker on top that says "Passed" , I'd say "Beware!" I'll bet those cameras wheren't stored in a pigeon coop for 120 years, like mine. LOL! I don't know why the bellows has produced this white dust from within. Other than this issue, everything about the camera is functional or easily remedied. I'm very pleased that the focus screen was found to be intact. The previous owner would not open the camera for fear of causing damage, and so I had no idea what was hidden within until it was received.


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