Sociedad Ibero-Americana de la Historia de la Fotografia Museo Fotográfico y Archivo Historico "Adolfo Alexander"
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THE RAREST STEREO CAMERA IN THE WORLD - pre GRAFLEX

THE TRIPLE LENS STEREO GRAPHIC by Folmer and Schwing

 

 

 

I am sure there must be rarer stereo cameras in the world, but this surely qualifies as one of the rarest.  The Triple Lens Stereo Graphic was made by Folmer and Schwing from 1902 to 1904, and discontinued when Folmer was bought out by Kodak.  I have not seen this camera in any book on antique cameras.  It is not listed in McKeown's Camera Price Guide.  Nor can it be found in the George Eastman House collection, which contains more than 6,000 cameras.  The famous Spira Collection did not have one.  The only picture I ever saw of this was on the famous stereo card showing that brave photographer balancing on an I-beam over New York City.  He is holding the Triple Lens Stereo Graphic.  (See below) Then, two years ago, a friend bought a French Taxiphote stereo viewer with a collection of glass slides.  Among them was one showing an Edwardian-dressed couple shooting with a Triple Lens.  These are the only photographs of this camera I have ever seen.  Folmer and Schwing featured an engraving of the camera in their 1902 catalogue (see below), along with prices and specifications.  This particular model has a 5x8 format, which was still popular at the turn of the century.  The viewing shade that clipped on the back is missing, as well as the inner septum.  Otherwise everything else is intact.  The focal plane shutter curtain seems to be fine, but the focal plane shutter itself winds, but does not release.  The shutter in front of the camera is excellent.  I had the shutter cleaned and adjusted by a professional camera repair person very familiar with Graflex and Folmer cameras.  It is in good working condition.  The matched lenses are Bausch and Lomb Zeiss Tessars Series ll b, no.'s 1492871 and 1492877.  The lenses are clean, and have no scratches, fungus or separation.  The bellows appear to be free of any holes or tears.  The leather covering is all complete and original, with some scuffing on the corners and other surfaces.  The handle is intact, and will hold the camera, but there is a crack in the upper surface of the leather on one side, which doesn't seem to prevent it bearing weight.  I purchased this camera from the family of a late Russian photographer in the Ukraine (of all places.)  The photographer's name was Vladimir Ivanov.  I tried to find something about him, as he was famous in Russia, but I did not have sufficient means to research this.  Perhaps one can better trace out the history of this camera and its original owner.  The camera comes with two 5x8 plate holders in good condition.  The holders themselves, made by Eastman Kodak, are very unusual in the way they open to receive the plates.  Both fit perfectly in the back of the camera.  On top, is a strange metal plate which flips up,  and is intended, I suppose, for lining up your shots without using the focusing hood below it.  The focusing hood has a ground glass plate inside, with a lens in front that moves with the pair of lenses below it.  It has its own bellows, and is supported by lazy tongs that allow it to slide backward for individual focusing on the ground glass, making it very easy to focus the camera and see the image while the shutter is being fired.  There is also a 5x8 ground glass in back with a spring loaded door.  The camera is huge.  When all the flaps are open, it measures 19" from front to back, and is a little over 10" wide, and 15" high to the top of the metal viewer plate. This is one camera that is not only extremely rare, but has quite a history behind it.  To the best of my knowledge, I believe this is the only one in the world. Whoever buys this have a most precious camera to his collection. 

 

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