I recently hit the auction site and saw an interesting, old box camera for sale. Having never heard of the camera company before, I did some searching on the web and did not find much, but camerapedia does have some information, including a cool cut-out diagram showing how the camera works. One very interesting thing about this camera is that it has glass plate holders for (presumably) dry plate photography. It uses a simple mechanism to allow the photographer to take up to 12 shots before requiring the camera to be reloaded.
From the front it has very few controls as you would expect with an old box camera. On the left is the shutter release, at the high center is the lens itself, and just to left and above of the lens is the shutter speed selector. You have two options, ‘I’ and ‘T’. I is for Instant–it seems less than a second, however I am not sure what exact speed, certainly not fast by modern standards. ‘T’ is just like a large format camera ‘T’ setting–Time, press the shutter release, shutter opens. Press the shutter release again, it closes. The other two ports are for composing with the viewfinders. The portrait one will need some serious cleaning, the other one seemed ok.
My copy came with 11 plate holders (camerapedia suggests it should be 12), and 9 glass plates. I’m not sure the age of the glass plates, they could be of similar vintage as the camera. The plate changer works just fine, but we’ll have to see how light-tight it is when switching between plates. The plates themselves are close to 4×5 film size, so while a box camera, also technically a large format camera.
The basic idea is you expose the plate, turn the knob on top to release the plate, as a spring pushes on a backing metal plate, and the plate drops. My plan is to use some paper negatives for testing purposes and general shooting. At some point I would like to create some dry plates.