One of the lesser known view camera styles is the "side-strut"
body pattern. Shew cameras are the embodiment of this design.
Side-strut cameras could be folded into a very thin form that
easily fit into a vest or coat pocket.
Shew first created the popular Eclipse side-strut cameras in 1885
based on George Lowdon's (Dundee, Scotland) 1885 patent. In
1894, Shew introduced Xit Pocket Cameras that eventually
replaced the Eclipse series.
Wood and brass were the most often used materials. Later
models were also made with aluminum hardware.
Shew Xit, late 1890s to early 1900s James F. Shew, London
The cameras shown above represent two sizes of the same model. The
larger (shown on the left) is a 1/4-plate (3-1/4 x 4-1/4 inch) format. It
is made of highly polished mahogany and includes a coiled spring Shew
Instantaneous shutter and Darlot lens.
The smaller camera is an extremely rare and unusual 1-7/8 x 3 inch plate
format. It makes the normally small 1/4-plate camera look large in
comparison! It too is made of polished mahogany with brass bindings.
The shutter is also a Shew, but uses spring-steel band to power the
Established in 1849, J.F. Shew is believed to have been in business until
1920. His popular side-strut designs were also copied by French makers.