Excelsior View Camera,
Richard Walsl Catalog, 1882, p. 45
Probably originally 6½ x 8½ wet plate; modified to 5 x 7
slide in holder
Stamps on rear base rail: "Excelsior"
and "A. Semmendinger, Manuf'r Fort Lee, N.J."
Date Introduced: - ; Years Manufactured: c.
Construction: rear focus
Sizes Offered: 4¼x5½;
6½x8½; 8x10; 10x12; 11x14; 14x17; 17x20;
Notes: Apparently all
Semmendinger Cameras, no matter what design, are called The Excelsior - the
camera in the photographs above
is so stamped, as are several other designs that are extant. This one is
referred to here as Excelsior Variation 2, a
design using non-tapered bellows. The design is essentially a studio camera design that just happens to have a folding
bed to make it (slightly) portable. Indeed, the reference in the Walzl
catalog is of a portrait camera, having no mention of a folding bed.
However, the lens board arrangement in Walsl - which it is moved up and down via
the knob at its top, and is not readily removable, being inside the front
standard - is the same for the Walsl portrait camera and the above one.
common Semmendinger design, containing a small chamber below the lens board and
tapered bellows, is referred to here as Excelsior Variation 1.
The back of the above example
may have been altered to be spring-loaded for 5x7 dry plates. The original
wet-plate holder (probably for 6½x8½) would probably have been put in place of
the ground glass frame, as shown for the Walsl portrait camera.
The Photographer's Friend, Richard Walsl (Baltimore,
MD), 7th edition, 1882, p. 45 (similar to the Extra Quality Portrait Camera)
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