Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

GEM Camera

Rochester Optical and Camera Company

Name: GEM Camera
Type: Hand & Stand
Manufacturer: Rochester Optical and Camera Company
Country of Origin: USA
Construction: It is constructed of wood, possibly mahogany but stained very dark and highly polished on the interior; the body is covered with black leather. Nickel plated fittings.
Production Period: 1899 - 1903 (See Notes)

 

Plate / Film Size: plate
Lens: 3 x 4 Rapid Rectilinear (f8)
Shutter: Bausch & Lomb single valve T,B,I
Movements: Rising front
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example: c1900
Serial Number: 213895 stamped into inner face of top.
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [x]
  • Hard to Find [ ]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 588

 

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Description

This is an example of a quite conventional self-casing or cycle camera, with single extension bellows. It is marked with the name GEM on the shutter, which also identifies the maker as Rochester Optical & Camera Co., dating it to some time between 1899 and 1903.

It is unclear whether GEM is the name of the shutter or the camera. I am assuming the latter as I cannot find any other reference to a B & L Gem shutter.

The camera was bought in the UK and may therefore have been an original import, resold by one of the firms that were importing American cameras at the turn of the 20th century.

It is constructed of wood, possibly mahogany but stained very dark and highly polished on the interior; the body is covered with black leather. Nickel plated fittings.

Tapered chamfered bellows, which look black but could perhaps be a very dark maroon. However they appear to be original.

Spring back (non reversible) with hinged door for viewing the ground glass screen (intact). No DDS with the camera. Handle intact.

Notes

While this style of camera is relatively common, in my experience it is more usual to find POCO or PREMO models made by the Rochester Camera Company or Rochester Optical Company respectively. The Rochester Optical & Camera Company came into being after the two separate companies merged along with Monroe Camera Co., Ray Camera co and Western Camera Mfg. Co of Chicago in 1899. The new company was acquired by George Eastman in 1903, when the name was shortened to Rochester Optical Co. In 1907 it then became the Rochester Optical Division, EKC before finally being identified as the Rochester Optical Department in 1917.