Posted 6 years ago
Chambre de Voyage (French for "field camera") is a generic reference for a common style of field view camera sold in France from the 1890s to the 1930s. It is also referred to as a "Continental - styled View Camera" or simply "Continental View."
Popular on the European continent, the majority of these cameras had the same basic features ranging from simple to elaborate. The Chambre de Voyage is basically a rear focusing design with a simple folding bed with a sliding wooden panel to make the base rigid. Although straight forward in design, there were many variations with a variety of more sophisticated features such as geared rack and pinion focusing, interchangeable lens boards, shifting front, and rotating bellows to change the orientation from portrait to landscape without having to turn the camera.
A distinguishing feature of these cameras is the bellows. Many had colorful bellows with corners reinforced with a contrasting color. I have seen examples with blue, purple, pink, red-you name it-bellows.
The basic story, as told by another collector, is that these cameras were almost all made in the Alsace region of France-Germany by cabinet makers who would turn them out during their off-season to keep the shops going and labor employed. Wood was whatever grew nearby, usually adequate quality but not great. Workmanship was competent but not great. Most of these cameras are nameless but some had name-plates usually of the store, retailer or distributor -- rarely any big names.
This particular camera (I sold it many years ago) is a scarce 9 x 12 cm format with a rich forest green bellows. It is a small view camera measuring only 6½" high x 5" wide x 9" long. Construction is purely "no-frills," a primitive build with a fixed lens board, simple unmarked meniscus lens, and fixed (non-rotating) bellows. The wood has a golden oak finish. A crack running across the front lens board attests to the lesser quality wood used in building the camera.