Manhattan Optical Co.
Wizard View, Variation 4
6½ x 8½
Date Introduced: - ; Years
Manufactured: c. 1909
In 1899, Manhattan Optical made the front focus only Wizard View Variation 1 and the back focus only Wizard View Variation 2. They were replaced, by the time the 1903 catalog was printed, with the Wizard View Variation 3, which has both front and back rack and pinon focus.
Variation 4, also a front and back focus model, appeared about 1909. It differs from Variation 3 in that it has a ground glass frame that admits the plate holder using four complex spring clips. The 1909 reference below mentions an improved spring back which undoubtedly refers to this mechanism. The Wizard Variation 4 also came with two planks of wood that slide into retaining clips that are inlet into the bottom of the base (see above photos of the bottom with its planks). The purpose of the planks, according to the 1909 reference below, appears to be to brace the already fairly rigid bed of all cameras larger than 5x7.
Variation 4 has a celluloid label that reads: "Wizard View Gundlach-Manhattan Optical Co. Rochester, N.Y."
The lens and shutter, assumed to have been purchased from the factory at the same time as the camera. In the 1880's and 1890's, cameras were commonly sold without lenses, the amateurs of the day having their favorites from various optical companies, such as Darlot and Dallmeyer, who didn't manufacture cameras. Even Gundlach didn't manufacture cameras in the 1880's and 1890's. With the acquisition of the Milburn-Korona Co. in 1896 and the Manhattan Opt. Co. in 1902, the Gundlach Opt. Co. became the Gundlach-Manhattan Opt. Co. by 1903, and had a wide range of leather-covered self-contained plate cameras and all wood view cameras, including the Wizard.
The Gundlach Opt. Co. had a good reputation for optics, so the cameras of the Gundlach-Manhattan Co. were sold, more times than not, with a suitable Gundlach-Manhattan Opt. Co. lens.
In this case, the lens is an asymmetric convertible rapid rectilinear- type lens in a Gundlach-Manhattan shutter. Each of the two lens groups (front and back), can be unscrewed to be used alone. The lens is asymmetric because the lens groups have different focal lengths - in this case, 23" and 17". The groups can and are normally used together, giving a focal length of 11", for a total of three different focal lengths from one lens. The iris built into the shutter has a label showing three series of f-stops, one for each focal length.
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