Rochester Optical's popular line of field tailboard view cameras
were made from 1883 through 1902. During this period, a wide
variety of models were made, each model having a number of
variations. Similar tailboard style view cameras were also made
by American Optical and Scovill.
Unlike other Rochester Optical tailboard cameras, this camera has the
rear standard directly attached to the focusing blocks and
hand-finished wood holding the ground glass in place. This camera was
identified in March 1999 as a Commodore based on images found in the
1886 C.H. Codman catalogue.
American view cameras with solid beds were made for brief periods and
are scarce. While a folding solid bed may have been less expensive and
easier to construct, they tended to weigh more than later versions
with framed beds.
The solid bed on this example is locked in place by rotating an oval
piece of wood 90 degrees. The screw that anchors the lock is hollow
with inner threads allowing it to also serve as the tripod mount.
This camera sold for $18 in 1886 ($341 in year 2000 dollars).