Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Adlake Camera

Adams & Westlake Company

Name: Adlake Camera
Type: Box Form Plate Camera
Manufacturer: Adams & Westlake Company
Country of Origin: US
Construction: Leather covered wooden body with internal mechanism to open special plate sheaths.
Production Period: c1897 - 1905 (TBC)


Plate / Film Size: 4 x 5 plates
Lens: Unknown, fixed focus & aperture
Shutter: T & I, single speed
Movements: None
Dimensions (w x h x l): 7 inches tall, 5½ inches wide and 8½ inches long
Date of this Example: c1900
Serial Number: Serial 5532 stamped into inner face of lid. "Mabel Gladys Cassil" (original owner?) scratched into the face of each placeholder.
  • Common [x]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 557

<Photographs to be added>


The Adlake Camera is a large box camera for 4 x 5 plates that employs a patented system for exposing the plate held in a special plateholder sheath. This is not a magazine camera; each sheath has to be manually loaded into position.

This example does not carry any name plate - others have an Adams & Westlake label on the inner lid, below the serial. There is a circular depression in the lid that might perhaps have housed a label at one time (either for the manufacturer or a retailer).

To operate the camera, a sheath with an unexposed plate is taken from the storage compartment and slid into the metal frame. The loading door is then closed and the plate opening lever (on the camera top within an arc shaped slot) is pushed to the end of its travel in the slot. This causes the plate holder cover to open to reveal the plate, ready for exposure. Once the picture has been taken, the plate cover is closed again by returning the lever in its arc shaped slot to its original position.

It has a maximum capacity of 12 sheaths loaded in the body ready for use. It weighs just over 5 pounds, including the plate holders, of which there are 10 in all.

The shutter can be set for time and instantaneous exposures.There is a button (actually a slider) either side of the lens opening. One sets the exposure type to either time or instantaneous. The other is the shutter release, which is slid from side to side to fire the shutter. The lens aperture and focus are not adjustable.

This example is Regular Model with mild steel sheaths and fittings rather than the 'Special' that used aluminium to reduce the weight.

The camera has two reflex viewfinders, accommodating both landscape and portrait formats. It has a single tripod socket.