Blair Tourograph & Dry Plate Co., Boston, MA

 

Combination Camera, Reversible Back, Variation 3

 

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5 x 7" single swing model
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Bottom of camera.  In this single swing model, there is no central pivot, and no lever hardware as present in the 5 x 8" example below.
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Top Photo: Metal label on bottom of front standard: "The Blair Tourograph & Dry Plate Co., Boston, Mass."
Bottom Photo: Stamp on top of brace of platform/bed: "Blair Tourograph Co., Boston".

The Blair Tourograph Co. was re-named The Blair Tourograph & Dry Plate Co. in 1881.  This camera was probably made shortly after the name change, c.1882-1884, when the old stamp still hadn't been replaced.
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5 x 8" double swing model.  The second swing (in the horizontal dimension) is controlled by the small lever on the very bottom of the camera.  There is no mechanism for locking this swing - friction only holds it in place.
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Bottom of camera.  The horizontal swing is controlled via the nickel-plated brass lever; the pivot is the round nickel-plated post just below it.
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Metal Label on the front standard, engraved: "The Blair Tourograph & Dry Plate Co., Boston, Mass."
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Stamp on top of the platform/base; it reads: "Blair Tourograph Co., Boston".  When the name of the company was changed to The Blair Tourograph & Dry Plate Co. in 1881, the factory must have had a number of these platform braces that had been stamped with the old name.  That both names are on the camera leads to the conclusion that this camera was made fairly soon after the name change, probably 1882-1884.
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Date Introduced: - ; Years Manufactured: c.1884-1886
Construction: front focus via rack and pinion (two gear tracks on top of base rails); single or double swing; reverse by removable back; three-piece lens board
Materials: mahogany body; cherry base; black fabric bellows; nickeled hardware
Sizes Offered: 4¼x5.5; 5x7; 5x8/6½x8½; 6½x8½/8x10; 8x10/10x12
Notes:

Has a two section base; the front section removes for storage, but the base is so short, the camera is pretty much useless without its front section.   This camera is rather bulky, even when broken down. 

The 5x8" back could be removed and replaced by a 6.5x8.5" one - hence the name combination.   The reversible part of the name comes from the ability to switch from horizontal to vertical format by removing and repositioning the back.  The ordinary Combination Camera also reverses, but only by taking the camera off the tripod and re-attaching it by its second tripod mount. 

The Combination Camera, Reversible Back, Variation 1 has a peculiar giant front standard extension, while Variations 2 and 3 have a normal front standard.  The Combination Camera, Reversible Back, Variation 3 has an all-wood front standard, whereas Variation 2 has metal side brackets and no wooden cross-bracing at the bottom.  Variation 3 also has simple, small bottom brackets for retaining the back, and a single thumbscrew for focusing.  Despite its designation of this web site, the Variation 3 version probably came first, and, Blair having found that the all-wood construction of the front standard was prone to breakage, Variation 2 version, with its metal reinforcement, came later.
References:
Blair Tourograph & Dry Plate Co. Catalog, 1884, pp. 3-6 (called New Reversible Blair Combination Camera)
Catalog P, Photographic Material, J. W. Queen & Co. (Philadelphia, PA), 1886, pp. 58-59

 

 

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