A. Semmendinger (see http://semmendinger-camera.com/)

Excelsior View Camera, Variation 2

Richard Walsl Catalog, 1882, p. 45

Probably originally 6 x 8 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. 1880
Construction: rear focus
Sizes Offered: 4x5; 6x8; 8x10; 10x12; 11x14; 14x17; 17x20; 20x24
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.

     The most 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 6x8) 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)

Back to Miscellaneous