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Gibbs Camera, 1888

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    Posted 5 years ago

    rniederman
    (307 items)

    This is one of the more interesting cameras in my collection, and a really cool design. Today, collectors can look back on a rich variety of 1890s folding cameras, but few are as unique and distinctive as this early and rare Gibbs Camera (two others are known). What’s also interesting is that William C. Gibbs was located in Oakland, California; a long way from the epicenter of Rochester, NY based camera companies.

    Gibbs’ 5 x 7 inch format camera is a large heavily constructed apparatus with bright red leather bellows, brass hardware, hand-cut dovetail joints, and described as the first self-contained camera. Several key features stand out, the most distinctive of which is a rear body cover that rotates 270 degrees to become a solid platform to hold the drop-bed.

    In building his camera, Gibbs sometimes used parts from other builders. A turntable mounted into the rear body cover serves as a tripod head in the same manner as English Compact style cameras. The turntable found on this example has remnants of an impressed maker’s mark attributing the manufacture to be French. The rear ground glass assembly is - interestingly - from one of Thomas Blair's field view cameras.

    Gibbs was also a photographer who used his own “Gibbs” camera to shoot pictures of the January 1, 1889 solar eclipse. In a letter published in a report by the Regents of the University of California, William Gibbs wrote about his observations of the event and mentioned having successfully exposed two plates that would be given to the Lick Observatory.

    All-in-all, a terrific camera with a great history.

    Comments

    1. SEAN68 SEAN68, 5 years ago
      stunning Rob!! and nice to see you again :)!!!
    2. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, Sean!
    3. Belltown Belltown, 5 years ago
      Such a beautiful piece, really nice.
    4. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, aghcollect!
    5. Windwalker, 5 years ago
      Very nice ........ rniederman,..
    6. SEAN68 SEAN68, 5 years ago
      Your very welcome rob!!
    7. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, Eric!
    8. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, tom61375!
    9. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, geo26e!
    10. valentino97 valentino97, 5 years ago
      Great research - it is fun to read your posts. Thank you. Do you take pictures w/your old cameras? I realize sometimes that's impossible but some of your cameras must work?
    11. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, valentino97! I have taken pictures with some of the cameras. Nearly all of my cameras are in good enough condition to shoot pics. When you think about it a camera is a simple device. They are nothing more than a light-tight [dark] chamber with a lens at one end and photographic media or a digital sensor at the other end. A lens cap or shutter simply regulates the exposure duration. Several of my cameras have plate / film holders. If I had time, it is possible to purchase sheet film or create chemistry for glass plates.
    12. valentino97 valentino97, 5 years ago
      Would love to see your photographs because I'm sure the quality is amazing! Must be hard to get the sheet film and time-consuming as you said to get it all ready?

    13. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Hi valentino97 ... you can see an example of my photography using an early camera here: http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/124682-female-figure-study-shot-with-a-1904-stu
    14. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, Ben!
    15. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, Leah!
    16. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, Perry!
    17. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, Windwalker!
    18. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, blunderbuss2!
    19. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, Elisabethan!
    20. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, Lisa-lighting!
    21. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, Michael!
    22. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, valentino97!
    23. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, f64imager!
    24. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, Moonstonelover21!
    25. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, nittygritty1962!
    26. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, fortapache!

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