Posted 5 years ago
As the end of the 1890s approached, the market, saturated with inexpensive folding plate (self-casing) cameras, was already shifting to cheaper box and roll film cameras. While an air of anticipation maintained that the trend would continue, new models of these popular, portable self-casing cameras still found their way into the hands of eager amateurs.
Room for more?
Terrence D. Wilkin, Charles E. Welsh, and Edward P. Wilkin must have believed so. On February 27, 1900, papers of intent forming the Wilkin-Welsh Camera Company in Syracuse, New York were signed. The fledgling company was launched with $10,000 in capital stock and 100 shares distributed among its three directors. According to the filing, the purpose of the company was, “The manufacture of Cameras and Photographic Apparatus, and Photographic and other specialties of various kinds.”
While small companies trying to carve out a small niche were common at the turn of the century, the Wilkin-Welsh Camera Company is somewhat noteworthy for its incredible obscurity and business brevity. Unlike many of its competitors, the company was apparently overlooked as a merger or acquisition candidate.
In its two (or less) brief years of existence, with little or no marketing or advertising, a small variety of box and folding plate cameras were produced. Other than the few examples found in collections, a lack of reference material makes it difficult to know more about the cameras and “specialties of various kinds.”
Construction of this handsome yet simple 4 x 5 inch format camera included a bright red leather bellows and a back that could be turned for making portrait or landscape pictures. A leatherette covering was used instead of pebbled leather probably to keep costs down.
In the end, Wilkin-Welsh’s $10.00 Onondaga No.6 folding plate camera represents an interesting, albeit, a short-lived historical side-bar in an already crowded market.