Antique & Vintage Photographic Equipment

Viewograph Camera

Manufacturer Unknown

Name: Viewograph
Type: Box Plate Camera
Manufacturer: Unknown
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Construction: Simple two part 'shoe-box' style of box camera for single plates that have to be loaded in the dark room. The camera consists of a cardboard body covered in black leatherette with a simple lens and spring shutter. It was sold as a kit complete with chemicals, paper and plate.
Production Period: Unknown

 

Plate / Film Size: 3" x 2" plates
Lens: Unknown meniscus
Shutter: Sprung slip-flop shutter
Movements: None
Dimensions (w x h x l):  
Date of this Example:  
Serial Number: None
Availability:
  • Common [ ]
  • Uncommon [ ]
  • Hard to Find [x]
  • Scarce [ ]
Inventory Number: 417

<Photographs to be added>

Description

The Viewograph is a very simple 'shoebox' style box camera for 3 x 2" plates, that have to be loaded in the darkroom one at a time.

This example of the Viewograph is complete with its original box. It states 'British Made' and has a registered design number, but no manufacturer markings. The camera is a simple cardboard box, covered with black material, and a single viewfinder. It is about the same size as a Kodak No 0 box camera. It is very similar in format, construction and packaging to the Coronet plate box camera (#220), but is not identical - the Coronet camera is about 1/2" longer in the body. The lens opening is also a different size.

The camera was sold as a complete kit complete with instructions, chemicals, paper and spare plate. This example appears to be complete. Apart from an instruction sheet, it contains a red envelope (unopened) with one plate and a sheet of sensitised paper, a sealed enveloped of developer, and a sealed envelope of fixing salts.

The instructions consist of a single sheet, which is very likely to show wear as it has to be folded up many times to fit inside the box! Click here to show a scan of the instructions.

The original carton has a printed label and picture of the camera, but no makers name. The box itself is in good condition, but shows some water staining and wear on the end tabs. The main face with its red label is in good condition, although the original blue colour has faded.

This example came from the US. However it got there after being discovered in a house in Kent (mother-in-law of the seller).

I originally had a second example of the camera with a box, which I sold to another collector. The camera appeared to be identical. The box was in plain brown cardboard with direct printing onto the surface in black ink. Like the example described here, it also stated 'British Made' and had the same registered design number, but no manufacturer markings.

Notes

There were a number of plate box cameras of this same general form that were sold complete with chemicals, dating to sometime in the 1920s or 1930s. Several are sufficiently alike to suggest a common (but as yet unidentified) manufacturer. In Britain they invariably use the 3" x 2" VP plate size.

However single plate cameras that were produced much earlier are typically of square cross-section and design for 2" x 2" square plates - consider the Clifford box camera for example (which was also sold as a kit). This square pattern was also common in the US in the 1890s but for slightly smaller 2" x 2" plates and there are many examples and again, some turn up bearing no obvious identification, such as the unmarked US example in my collection.