Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Adams Yale No 2

Adams & Co

Name: Yale No 2
Manufacturer: Adams & Co
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Construction: Leather covered wood and metal body, with built-in changing box at the rear of the camera. Brilliant finders for both landscape and portrait format. Focusing methods vary (see examples below).
Dimensions (h x l x w): 12 x 19.5 x 12.5 cms (approx)
Production Period: c1897 - ?

Five different models of the Yale camera were produced covering different specifications and plate sizes, as follows (based on advert in 1902 BJPA, pgs 340 to 342):

The Yale cameras underwent a number of design changes over their production period, some of which can help date a particular example. Refer to the Notes section at the bottom of the page for further information.

Plate / Film Size: ¼ plate
Lens: Taylor & Hobson f6.5, with sliding box focusing
Shutter: Two-blade behind the lens shutter, 1/2 to 1/100, spring powered with spring regulation
Movements: None
Date of this Example: c1898
Serial Number: Serial number 189 stamped into brass backing plate on shutter assembly
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 112


This is an early example of the Adams Yale camera. The shutter is located behind the lens with spring regulation (subsequently changed to a between the lens shutter with pneumatic regulation, such as the later example shown below).

An interesting feature of this camera is that the focusing mechanism is based on the principle of one box sliding within another, where the rear section carrying the plates slides within the front section carrying the lens and shutter. A distance scale is exposed as the two are moved apart by hand. Very early on in production a rack and pinion focusing mechanism with internal bellows became the normal pattern, as shown on the later example below. One end of the handle is fixed to each box section of the camera, the handle thuis bridging the section that opens out when the camera is focused to shorter distances.

The shutter speed is set on a slider on the side of the camera. The shutter itself is operational but very sluggish on this example.

The lens cover that should slide down over the lens opening in the hinged front is jammed open on this example, swollen by corrosion of the metal. The cover would also hide the viewfinders when closed. One of the viewfinders is missing. There is also slight distortion to the metal body near change bag door, probably caused by the bag being badly stored within at some time in the past.

The name plaque located on the inside of the hinged cover over the plate changing bag is curious in that there is an indentation where the "YALE" camera name is written, Note that it is only the camera name that is affected and not the model number. This leads to speculation that perhaps a different name was originally proposed but was then changed, requiring an early batch of name plaques to be modified to remove the name and the Yale name put in its place. This example has a similar indentation at the bottom edge of the label just above where the Charing Cross address is shown and this modification was almost certainly to remove the Aldersgate address that was no longer in use by that time. Early examples of the Yale No 1 and No 2 models show this modification to the name plaque, although not all have the address removed. The plaque on the later example of the Yale No 2 camera shown below is unmodified.

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Plate / Film Size: ¼ plate
Lens: Taylor & Hobson Cooke Series III f/6.5, 5.1 IN (serial 3228), with rack and pinion focusing
Shutter: Between the lens shutter, 1/2 - 1/100, spring powered but pneumatic regulation (TBC)
Movements: Rising front
Date of this Example: c1899
Serial Number: Serial number 339 stamped into inside of rear door with "PATENT" below it.
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 671


The name used here, The No 2 Yale, is how the camera is described on the maker's rectangular name plaque inside the cover protecting the leather change bag. This shows only the 26 Charing Cross Rd address.

The lens has a rim set iris diaphragm that is marked from f/6.5 to f/32, accessible when the front cover is hinged down.. The lens maker is identified on the side of the lens barrel along with the serial number, although difficult to see! Adams & Company London is inscribed below the lens. The sliding cover that hides the lens and viewfinders moves freely on this example. It is fitted with a rising front (but no cross front as seen on other later examples).

The shutter speed is shown on a flat vertical plate with a flat lever to change values. The No 2 model is fitted with Adams Patent Brilliant Finders.

The front section racks out to focus, with square section bellows just visible. The handle (intact) has to be unclipped from the front fixture to rack through its entire distance, but this is well beyond the range served by the in-built distance scale (2 yards to infinity).

The rear door gives access to the plate holders. The camera is designed to take 12 holders, although there are 13 with the camera, but of three different patterns. The majority are plain steel (and a little rusty) and I suspect these are the originals as supplied with the camera. The leather change bag has some holes, possibly moth damage. The Adams changing system is described in detail on pg 341 of the 1899 BJPA.

The Adams advert in the 1899 BJPA shows a diagram and gives a general description that matches this camera.

The was purchased as part of a lot in Aston's auction on 10 June, 2020. The other cameras in the lot were a Griffiths Guinea Detective, Talbot & Eamer Mirral and Watson Vanneck cameras. These were all previously owned by Bob White and the auction was a second phase of the disposal of his private collection.

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Based on the examples I have seen to date, the No 2 model seems to be the most common, followed by the No 1.

There are a variety of design changes that happened over the first 5 years or so of production of the Yale cameras that can help with dating, although precise transition dates for each are difficult to pin down with any accuracy in most cases.

The 1898 advert in the BJPA has little detail, as a notice declares that they reduced their advertising to just a few pages as they were preparing changes that had not been finalised when the almanac went to press, but were expecting to show some new developments at the Great International Photographic Exhibition in the spring of 1898. It does provide some details relating to the No 1 model, including a statement that it has a "new metal shutter of high efficiency, working at various speeds from ½ to 1/100 of a second, as well as ordinary time exposures", but doesn't mention the pneumatic regulation explicitly in the description. The exhibition catalogue for the 1898 Great International Photographic Exhibition does not list the Yale camera amongst the exhibits, although it does describe the De Luxe with "a new form of shutter, with closed metallic pneumatic regulation, giving speeds of 1/100 to ½ second".

The Aldersgate address is still shown in the 1898 BJPA advert but is absent in the 1899 advert, which states "Only address: 26 Charing Cross Road". There is an announcement in the January 1898 edition of Photographic Dealer that Adams & Co have "removed from 81 Aldersgate Street, E.C. to 26 Charing Cross Road, W.C.".