Posted 7 years ago
Since the beginning of camera manufacturing, builders occasionally made special edition and "presentation" versions of their cameras and the practice still continues today. The equipment often commemorated special events or was crafted as personalized mementos. Late 1900s commemorative cameras were often produced in limited numbers for a collector market while wood & brass presentation models made before 1900 are exceptionally rare and typically unique pieces.
This beautifully crafted 1880s American portable field view apparatus is a "presentation" camera in the unusually small 1/4-plate (3¼ x 4¼ inches) format. A brass plaque inset in the mahogany below lens board proudly proclaims the owner's name and place of residence in flowing script: J Russ Jr., Haverhill, Mass.
The camera's construction is far above average. The body is made of slow growth, densely grained mahogany polished to a mirror-like finish. Finely made lacquered brass hardware adorns the body and delicate ebonized wood strips hold the rear ground glass in place. In keeping with the build excellence, a high quality Darlot No.1 Hemispherique Rapide lens was mounted.