Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

The "British" Field Camera

J. T. Chapman

Name: The "British" Field Camera
Manufacturer: J. T. Chapman
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Construction: Spanish mahogany with distinctive ebony binding to the side panels. Dovetail joints and brass fittings. Dark mauve leather square cornered bellows.
Production Period:  


Plate / Film Size: ½ plate
Lens: Wray 6.5" x 5" (serial 2556) with waterhouse stops
Shutter: None
Movements: Rising front, tilting front and back. Reversible back (portrait / landscape)
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example: c1895
Serial Number: No serial found (yet)
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 511


Very well made ½ plate field camera outfit contained in a brown canvas case that has seen better days. The camera is equipped with a Wray lens, which is in good order (serial 2556), complete with the original Wray case with all the waterhouse stops.

The camera came equipped with an unusual barrel shaped viewer (lens at one end and circular ground glass at the other - about 4cm diameter). This is unmarked; it screws into the side of the camera.

The camera body appears to be made of a mixture of Spanish mahogany for the sides (wide, multi-coloured grain), with Honduras mahogany (close grain) for the base board, lens board and back. The side panels are reinforced with a narrow strip of ebony.

The camera carries a clear label on one side , identifying it as The "BRITISH" - J.T. Chapman, Photographic Chemist, Manchester. This is likely to be an example of a camera made for Chapman by Billcliff.

The brasswork is in good order. The rails and side locking bars are patterned. Screw heads are all aligned. The outfit includes three DDS, all finished in good quality mahogany.

Maroon square section bellows (double extension), which are in very good condition. Rising front, tilting front and back. Reversible back (portrait / landscape).

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This camera is usually found in ½ plate size, but it is worth looking out for the smaller ¼ plate, which is a beautifully proportioned camera with the same high quality finish.