Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Instantograph Camera

J. Lancaster & Son

Name: Instantograph
Manufacturer: J. Lancaster & Son
Country of Origin: United Kingdom (Birmingham)
Construction: The standard model of the Lancaster Instantograph is a self-casing hand & stand camera. The front folds down to form the baseboard, with side struts that clamp to hold the back and baseboard rigid. The lens board is mounted on a brass frame on rails built into the baseboard, which is clamped in position by a threaded bar.
The camera was made in many sizes. This is the later pattern, introduced in 1887 but then used throughout the remaining production period with only minor changes. The camera was made in a variety of sizes, although plate and plate are the most common.
Production Period: 1887 - 1910
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Lancaster Camera Advert (1899)

This is the most common pattern of Lancaster camera that turns up. The Instantograph cameras were made in large numbers. The 1899 Lancaster advert claims that they had by then sold in excess of a quarter of a million cameras and claimed to be the largest maker worldwide.

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An equivalent advert for 1894 claims that the total sold was in excess of 120,000 so it is clear that the period in the later 1880s was a booming time.

The Instantograph generally carries two rectangular labels: one bears the makers name while the other identifies the camera and often includes a year as illustrated by the examples in my collection described below. Generally they have red tapered double extension bellows, but there are exceptions. Brass or aluminium bound variants also exist (named as such).

The cameras are generally fitted with a Lancaster lens and one of their patented shutters - either the see-saw shutter or rotary (band powered) shutter.

Image of Lancaster Instantograph Cameras

Lancaster Instantograph (1890 Model)

Model / Variant: The 1890 Instantograph
Plate / Film Size: plate
Lens: Lens is inscribed with J Lancaster & Sons, Patent Birm, with ring set aperture.
Shutter: Thornton Pickard Time & Instant; label on left hand side (from front) reads "C. Cousins, Photographic Agent, Edmonton".
Movements: Rise front on lens standard; tilt on rear with limited swing.
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example: 1890
Serial Number: None.
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 124

 

ClicPic Photos copyright 2013 David Purcell. Do not use without permission.
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Description

Half plate field camera with thick dark blue bellows, which is quite unusual. Mahogany & brass construction. Ground glass screen intact. Has the patented swing-out focusing screen.

Complete with two mahogany DDS each side stamped with a number, 1 through 4. Side 2 has a small circular distributors plate "Talbot & Eamer, Blackburn". Cover on side 3 carries the Lancaster shield. The DDS are not identical.

Note the fine dovetail joints used on the camera. The scribe lines marking the depth of cut have been left under the polish. The dovetail joints are further reinforced with screws.

The camera also came complete with an oak extending tripod and the ring, which has a flat top and fixing thread to allow it to fit to the camera. The are clear marks on the base of the camera that suggest this tripod was much used with it during its working life.

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Lancaster Instantograph (1892 Model)

Model / Variant: The 1892 Instantograph
Plate / Film Size: plate
Lens: Lens is inscribed with J Lancaster & Sons, has iris control by ring on lens
Shutter: Patented See-Saw Shutter
Movements: Rise front on lens standard; tilt on rear with limited swing.
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example: 1892
Serial Number: None.
Availability:
  • Common [x]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 32

 

ClicPic Photos copyright 2013 David Purcell. Do not use without permission.
Click small picture to enlarge.   ClicPic Gallery Software.

Description

Instantograph name carried on insert on top of camera "The 1892 Instantograph PATENT". Manufacturer identified on label carried on front face "J. Lancaster & Son BIRMINGHAM".

Red square section tapered double extension bellows in very good condition, though the top side is dirty.

Ground glass screen intact. Has the patented swing-out (Z-style) focusing screen.

Notes

These are not too hard to find, although their condition can vary.