Simon Wing  & Co.

New Gem Camera / Ajax Camera

  New Gem 5 x 7


a plate purchased with the camera

Date Introduced:  ; Years Manufactured:  c. 1889
Construction: fixed focus, no swing, shifting front provides multiple exposures on a single plate
Materials: mahogany body, brass hardware
Sizes Offered: 5x7
Notes: The New Gem Camera (shown above) is not really a field camera, being usually used as a dedicated ninth-plate tintype producer, but it has a normal tripod mount, so could have been used in the field.  The front of this uniquely wing shifting front has three marked vertical positions and five marked horizontal positions as well as an interior mask appropriate to produce 15 photos on a 5x7" plate.  There is no ground glass, as the lens is matched to the depth of the box.  Another Wing model, the Ajax, is essentially identical to the New Gem, except that it was sold with a 1/4 lens (that is a lens designed to cast 4 images on a full plate) instead of the 1/9 lens on the New Gem (Gem is the nickname for a small photograph).  The New Gem and Ajax boxes apparently are not much different in size, both approximately 10" wide x 8" high x 5" deep, despite the fact that the 1/4 lens has a longer focal length than the 1/9 lens.  How?  Note that the above New Gem has a hinged back and inset location for a bare plate (not in a double plate holder).  Its focal plane is sunken about " from the back surface.  The Ajax at http://www.antiquewoodcameras.com/ajax.html has a focal plane about even with the back surface. 

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