Rochester Optical Co.
New Model Camera, Variation 1.5
Metal label on front
Stamp on top of
Date Introduced: - ; Years
Manufactured: c. 1885-1886
The New Model is a Rochester Optical's least simplest and least expensive model - a basic back focus view camera having non-tapering leatherette (coated paper textured to look like leather) bellows and push-pull focus. The wood used was stated to be cherry, and the hardware was stated to be nickel (-plated brass). The Rochester Optical Catalog of Photographic Apparatus, June 1890, states that the New Model has been on the market for six years, and Photographic Apparatus, Rochester Optical & Camera Co., 1896 states that the New Model has been on the market for twelve years. Therefore introduced about 1884, it is likely that the December 15, 1883 Scientific American advertisement, which has a small but recognizable engraving of the 4x5 model, is the first mention of the model. It is an inexpensive camera that was popular over a wide range of years, so it is not surprising that a number of variations were made.
Variations of the ROC New Model:
New Model Variation
Hardware: nickel-plated brass.
Bed: The earliest engravings of the New Model, here called Variation 1, have bed edges that are beveled. This is the most distinctive feature of Variation 1, as all other variations have bed edges that form a shallow tongue & groove joint with the sliding back standard. Variation 1 also has solid wood between its edges, a trait it shares with only Variation 1.3. The 1886 Queen & Co. catalog entry states: all sizes above 4x5" have folding bed for compactness, implying that sizes 4x5 and smaller have non-folding beds. Indeed, examples of the 4x5 size do not fold, and examples of the 5x8 size fold. A folding bed is made rigid by a cast metal swivel piece attached to the middle of the bed (see cast metal detail photo).
lens board: Examples greater than 4x5" version of Variation 1 have a removable lens board; the 4x5 size (and presumably the 3¼x4¼) has a fixed front surface without provision for lens board. Furthermore, the surface onto which the lens is affixed is contoured to precisely fit the 4x5 Rochester Optical Single Achromat lens, which came with the camera.
Rise Slot: The rise slot of the Variation 1 is bare.
Ground Glass Frame: Variation 1 and Variation 1.5 have a thin-type frame, rather than the thick-type frame that later Variations have (see thin-thick frame detail photos). The fastener that holds the frame up is the typical small, spring-loaded Rochester catch at the center back; a notch in a lever engages a brad on the ground glass frame to hold; an interior spring keeps the notch against the brad. The ground glass itself is held into the frame by four brads in all thin-type frames.
A 5x8" New Model that looks otherwise like a Variation 1 that is on display at the website of the George Eastman House (http://www.geh.org/fm/mees/htmlsrc/mR676600002_ful.html) has some detailing (apparently decorative) on its front edge that other Variation 1 examples do not.
New Model Variation 1.3
(introduction of the tongue & groove-edged bed):
Hardware: nickel-plated brass continues.
Bed: This variation is transitional between New Model Variation 1 and New Model Variation 1.5 in that it retains the top-mounted, cast metal swivel to make the bed rigid as found on Variation 1, and a solid wood bed, but has the tongue & groove-edged bed as found on Variations 1.5 and later.
lens board: Removable lens board in the 5x8 (only example known).
Rise Slot: The rise slot does not have a metal wear shield, as do most New Model variations. Variation 1.3 also has a rounded metal label identifying the manufacturer; other Rochester models of this era also have metal labels.
Ground Glass Frame: Continuing the thin-type frame of Variation 1 with a small spring-type fastener. This example has tiny and elegant quarter-round moldings that hold the ground glass in place.
New Model Variation 1.5
(introduction of a metal wear shield for the rise slot):
Hardware: nickel-plated brass continues.
Bed: This variation appears to be transitional between New Model Variation 1.3 and New Model Variation 2 in that it retains the top-mounted, cast metal swivel to make the bed rigid as found on Variations 1 and 1.3, but has the frame-type, tongue & groove-edged bed as found on Variation 2 and later. The solid bed used for Variations 1 and 1.3 undoubtedly used considerably more wood than a frame. It would also seem that the wood used in a solid bed would have had to be very well seasoned, to prevent warping, whereas the multiple pieces used in a frame would offset any warping from any one of them.
lens board: All sizes now have removable lens boards.
Rise Slot: The rise slot of Variation 1.5 is surrounded by a rounded metal wear shield. This is the only variation that has such a shield; however, the Commodore Variation 1 and Commodore Variation 2 (i.e., all Commodores) have the shield on their rise and also their shift. This variation also has a rectangular metal label identifying the manufacturer; other Rochester models of this era also have metal labels.
Ground Glass Frame: Same as Variation 1 - continuing the thin-type frame, small spring-type fastener, and brads holding the ground glass.
New Model Variation 2
(introduction of the thick frame holding the ground glass at the corners using
Hardware: nickel-plated brass continues.
Bed: Variation 2 continues the use of a frame-type bed having tongue & groove edges. But instead of the cast metal swivel to make the bed rigid on Variation 1 though Variation 1.5, this variation introduces a lever that fits through a slot in the fixed part of the bed to hook a post, which connects the two parts of the bed tightly together. When new, the lever system probably functioned well, but the slotted bed is weak and is often found to be fractured now.
lens board: Removable lens boards continue.
Rise Slot: The rise slot switches back to being bare. The metal manufacturer label is retained, but it has rounded ends and identifies the model as well as the manufacturer.
Ground Glass Frame: Introduction of the thick-type frame (see comparison on the Variation 1 page. The ground glass is held at its corners by four flat metal pieces.
Ground Glass Frame Fastener: The most distinguishing feature of a New Model Variation 2 is the presence of large, round clips on the top of the camera to retain the ground glass frame that is hinged at the bottom. To tighten, the clip is rotated to a position to admit a brad, then rotated clockwise to tighten via a cam-like action. Up to six of this type of clip was also used on the Ideal Variation 1, undoubtedly produced at the same time. The use of these cam-type clips must have been short-lived. Variation 1, Variation 1.5 and also Variation 3 retain the hinged ground glass frame using the classic Rochester Optical clips - small, round, and worked by a spring instead of a cam. Thus, the cam-type clips were an experiment, perhaps too expensive to continue, since the company went back to their previous type of clip after a relatively few such cameras were made. Variation 2 is also the first appearance of the thick-type ground glass frame. Variation 2 also marks the first appearance of triangular corner hardware to hold the ground glass in its frame, rather than brads, as were used in thin-type frame models.
New Model Variation 3 :
Wood, Hardware, Bed, lens board, Rise Slot: Same as Variation 2.
Ground Glass Frame: Same as Variation 2 - continuing the thick-type frame, small spring-type fastener, and flat metal hardware holding the ground glass at its corners.
Ground Glass Frame Fastener: The large cam-type clips are discontinued, and the classic Rochester Optical small, round, spring-type ground glass frame fastener is back. The ground glass continues to be held into the frame by triangular corner holders.
New Model Variation 4
(Introduction of lacquered brass hardware rather than nickel plated hardware):
Below, detail of the cast metal device to
make the bed rigid, used on Variation 1 and Variation 1.5
Back to Rochester Optical Co.