Rochester Optical Co.
(Base Edges T/G Solid Interior, Hidden Rack & Pinon Focus)
C.H. Codman Catalog, 1886, p. 10
4 x 5
Date Introduced: - ; Years Manufactured: c. 1885-c.
Construction: back focus by rack
& pinion gears, no or single swing, gears on top of
base, non-reversing, wooden track guides
Materials: mahogany body, nickeled
Sizes Offered: 4x5; 4¼x6½; 5x8
This is a camera similar to and the
approximately the same price as
another Rochester Optical's model, the New Model Improved,
in that it has back focus, a non-tapering bellows, and rack and pinion focus. The
feature that differentiates the Commodore is that it has a shifting as well as rising lens board
arrangement, a feature which is quite rare amongst Rochester Optical Co. models.
It appears that the only other Rochester Optical model to have a shifting and
rising front (or as Rochester Optical calls it in the Commodore
advertisement: double sliding front) is the c.1883
American Challenge Camera (Wood Base), in itself
one of the rarest Rochester Optical models. The Commodore
advertisements also mention rack and pinion
focusing. There are two Commodore variations known.
The bed of this model is solid
mahogany, like the earliest variation of Rochester Optical's New Model, the
New Model Variation 1. But whereas the
New Model Variation 1 has a beveled outer edge of its base, the Commodore
Variation 1 has the later-type tongue & groove edge, like the
New Model Variation 1.5. The Commodore
Variation 1 also has the same narrow frame around the ground glass
associated with the earliest Rochester Optical Co. models, like the
New Model Variation 1,
New Model Variation 1.5, and New Model
Improved Variation 1. These features: the shifting and rising
front, the solid base with tongue & groove edge, and the narrow-type frame, are
all pictured in the catalog engravings from the 1886 catalog. In addition,
the example of this variation has a shifting lens board held in by two large
fixed tabs at the bottom and a movable clip at the top, rather than the usual
hidden dado on the top and bottom.
This variation has the frame-type base (usual in view
cameras of this era), rather
than the solid-type base of Variation 1. Its rack and pinon focus
knob is entirely behind the rear standard, rather than at the front of the rear
standard as on the Variation 1. In all details except the shifting
lens board, the Commodore Variation 2 appears to be identical to the
New Model Improved Variation 2. So far, no
engravings of this variation are known, but ROC catalogs from the late 1880's,
where they would have appeared, are rare. The example of this variation
has the usual hidden dado for its shifting lens board.
American Journal of
Photography, March 1885, p. 9
Illustrated Catalogue of Photographic Apparatus
Manufactured by the Rochester Optical Co., C.H. Codman
& Co. (Boston, MA),
June 1886, p. 10
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