Sears Folding Plate Camera, late 1890s
Copyright ©2001 by Rob Niederman - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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Once upon a time, long before Sears Roebuck & Company had Kenmore appliances and Craftsman tools, Sears sold polished wood and brass cameras such as the example shown here. The Sears Plate Camera is a 4x5 inch leather covered folding-plate camera made of polished mahogany.

The most interesting feature is a shutter mounted inside a highly polished mahogany lens board. Turning a brass knob below the lens to either the right or left tensions the shutter. The shutter blade has a small arrow engraved on it to remind the photographer which direction to turn the shutter tensioning knob.

The concealed-shutter lens board is a marvelous piece of craftsmanship beveled edges and brass hardware. This particular camera is similar to the Pony Premo E by the Rochester Optical Company.

Concealed-shutter folding-plate cameras are somewhat scarce compared to others with external lens/shutter assemblies. This was possibly due to the amount of laborious "hand-fitting" required to assemble the shutter inside the polished lensboard and that the shutter was very limited; having only one speed.
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Folding Plate Camera, late 1890s
Sears Roebuck & Co. Chicago, IL.