Posted 4 years ago
In looking at early wood photographic apparatus, you really get an appreciation of how far we’ve come with digital cameras even though the basic principal of photography is largely unchanged.
This camera was made during the ‘wet’ collodion photography era which was replacing daguerreotypes. Although technically a better process, collodion chemistry was just about as toxic and nasty as its predecessor. Collodion was also quite caustic and a reason these early cameras have heavy construction.
John Stock, a former cabinet maker, was one of the earliest American builders. He joined the photography market during the 1850s and quickly became well known. Stock's advertising included Camera Boxes, plate holders, glass baths and ambrotype equipment.
Most any Stock camera is rare and this 4-1/2 x 5-1/2 inch daguerreotype half-plate format ‘camera box’ has two sets of lenses; a 4-tube gem lens set and the early Holmes, Booth and Haydens radial drive lens shown here. Some brass components on the body include the Stock name with a patent year of 1864.
This particular camera has dove-tail construction details (very unusual for an American camera because the majority of examples have box joints), a rise-fall multiplying back, and a wet plate holder with brass registration hardware for side-to-side movements.
Overall, this is a classic example of American equipment made during photography’s second generation technology, the collodion wet plate era.