Rochester Optical Co.

Commodore Variation 2
(Base Edges T/G Frame Interior, Rack & Pinon Focus Behind Ground Glass)


4 x 5


Date Introduced: - ; Years Manufactured: c. 1888
Construction: back focus, no or single swing, gears on top of base, reversing by two tripod mounts, wooden track guides
Materials: mahogany body, nickeled hardware, maroon fabric bellows
Sizes Offered: 4x5; 4x6; 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.

Variation 1:
     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.

Variation 2:
     This variation has the more normal frame-type base, 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.


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