Imperial Camera and Manufacturing Co.
Imperial View Camera
Cash Buyer's Union (Chicago, IL), Catalogue 11M 1903, p. 4
6½ x 8½"
8 x 10
Date Introduced: 1901 ; Years
Construction: front and rear focus
via rack and pinion (two gear tracks on top of base rails);
double swing rear; reversing by
Materials: mahogany body; cherry base; black leatherette bellows; brass hardware,
Sizes Offered: 5x7, 6½x8½, 8x10, 11x14
Notes: The probable manufacturer
of the Imperial View was The Imperial Camera and Manufacturing Co.,
incorporated in January, 1901 and bought out and moved by the Conley Camera Co.
of Spring Grove, MN (A History of Photography in LaCrosse, Wisconsin,
1853-1930; MS Thesis, UW-LaCrosse; Edwin L. Hill; 1978; murphylibrary.uwlax.edu/digital/thesis/1978/hill.pdf).
However, there also was another company, The Imperial Camera Co. of Grand
Rapids, WI, that manufactured at least a large studio and enlarging camera (The
American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1897, The
Scovill & Adams Co., page ads034). Considering that they were both in
Wisconsin (although about 100 miles apart), the two Imperial companies are
likely related (one the successor of the other), but there is not enough data at
this time to determine the chronology. The back of the above camera (having
a celluloid label marked Imperial) is similar to that
on the same era Rochester Optical Co. cameras; rear swing hardware is similar to
that on Century Camera Co. cameras; the front standard is also very similar to
the Century View (even the label shape),
but the front has the classic Rochester Optical Co. s-shaped lens board retainers.
The best part is the nifty
little inset and peek-a-boo plumb bob. The engraving above is from a problematical 1903 ad (see reference below) which
is for the Seneca View Camera, and
which also has
an engraving of the real Seneca View, but also has a second engraving of
the Imperial, but with no model name, description or offer to sell it.
A stereoscopic version (lens board
and bellows wider than high) was marketed under the name
Chicago View Stereoscopic Camera by Montgomery
Ward & Co. in 1905 (see
Special Catalogue of Photographic Apparatus, Montgomery Ward & Co. (Chicago, IL),
c. 1905, p. 33).
Cameras and Camera Supplies, Cash Buyer's Union
(Chicago, IL), Catalogue 11M 1903, p. 4
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