Blair Camera Co.

 

Reversible Back Camera Improved Variation 4

 

Illustrated Catalogue and Price List of Photographic Apparatus and Supplies, Blair Camera Co., 1895, pp. 3-5

6 ½ x 8 ½"
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Label, brass, top of front standard
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Date Introduced: c. 1895 ; Years Manufactured: c.1895 - c.1898
Construction: front focus via rack and pinion (two gear tracks on top of base rails); single swing; reversing by removable back; three-piece lens board
Materials: mahogany wood body; cherry base; black fabric bellows; brass hardware
Sizes Offered: 5x7; 5x8; 6 ½x8 ½; 8x10
Notes:

     The Blair Reversible Back, Improved has been divided into four variations, the definitions of which have changed as of 10-1-2016.  Since only Variation 1 and Variation 4 appear in Blair literature, it is difficult to say much about Variation 2 and Variation 3.  What is clear from the Variation 1 and Variation 4 catalog illustrations is that the platform or base in 1890 was double braced lengthwise and single braced crosswise, and by1895, it was a simple, un-braced frame.  But the Boston Camera Co., which was purchased by the Blair Camera Co. in 1890, was already making the simplified platform 1888-1890 as the Boston Camera Co. View Camera.  It is thus probable that, after the acquisition of the Boston Camera factory, said factory continued to make their version of the camera (the 1890 catalog already printed using the old engraving).  The only change in the camera due to the change in ownership was the label that was added at the end.  This leaves the question of when and where Variation 2 and Variation 3 were made - answers unknown, but assumed to be prior to about 1891.

Reversible Back Improved Variation 1 (c.1887 - c.1890):  1) the middle base section heavily braced with wood struts, 2) the rear standard that has single swing via angular brass hardware at its bottom, and 3) a wide square section at the bottom of the front standard, reinforced by the front standard hardware.  The Blair 1893 catalog states that the Reversible Back Camera and the Champion Reversible Back Camera are superseded in design.  This variation exists in literature engravings.  There are cameras of this variation having nickel-plated brass hardware as well as lacquered brass hardware, combined here under one variation..

Reversible Back Improved Variation 2 (c.1887 - c.1890):  1) braced middle base section as in Variation 1, 2) the swing hardware at the bottom of the rear standard is a rounded triangular shape different than Variation 1, and 3) the wide square section at the bottom of the front standard, as in Variation 1.  This variation has not been seen yet in literature.

Reversible Back Improved Variation 3 (c.1897 - c.1890): 1) braced middle base section as in Variation 1, 2) unlike either Variation 1 or Variation 2, there is a single swing via a straight hardware piece leading from the base to a center pivot, 3) the front standard has uniform width, rather than a wide square section at the bottom.  It has not been found yet in a Blair catalog, but, having the same base as Variation 2, it probably was made about the same time as Variation 2.  This variation has not been seen yet in literature.

Reversible Back Improved Variation 4 (c.1893 - c.1898): 1) all base sections are simple and un-braced, unlike Variation 1, Variation 2 and Variation 3,  2) the rear swing pivots from the center via a straight hardware piece as in Variation 3, and 3) the front standard has uniform width, as in Variation 3, but the hardware does not extend as far up the standard as in Variation 3.  This variation has been seen in literature engravings.  This variation is virtually identical to the Boston Camera Co. View Camera, and may have been made in the Boston Camera Co. factory after 1890, when The Blair Camera Co. purchased the The Boston Camera Co..

Cases for it came in two sizes - a long one could store more plate holders.  Trim could be made to order.  The Blair 1895 catalog states that the Reversible Back Camera, the Combination Camera, and the Champion Reversible Back Camera are superseded in design. 

References:
Illustrated Catalogue and Price List of Photographic Apparatus and Supplies, Blair Camera Co. (Boston, MA), 1895, pp. 2-5 (one engraving pm page 2 is of Variation 4 and another on page 4 (from the bottom) is of Variation 1).
Catalogue of Hawk-Eye Cameras and Photographic Supplies Season of 1898, Blair Camera Co., Boston, MA), 1898, pp. 4-5
ad reprint in "Anthony, The Man, The Company, The Cameras", p. 276 

 

 

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