What model Speed Graphic?

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Walter S.

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I'm trying to figure out the dizzying names of cameras used by Graflex. The camera is a 4x5 has a bed and a body like a Speed Graphic, but doesn't have nor ever had a focal plane shutter. The lensboard is wood, but no lens. Metal parts are kinda grey, not shiny aluminum or chrome. I'll try to post a photo if i can figure out how.
 
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I made a wooden lensboard for my Crown Graphic: point taken though it could be a Burke and James...

David
I think that the Busch Pressman is of higher quality, but the Graflex had great design features
 

Kawaiithulhu

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What's the serial # on the camera, it's usually located inside the front door that folds down to make the bed and focusing rails.

You can look up Graflex serial number ranges here: http://graflex.coffsbiz.com/serials.html to find both model and manufacture date within a year or so.

For a camera that features easily exchanged lenses, relying on lensboard material to identify models seems a bit dangerous. Blackened hardware will place you in the WW2 war years, as will a lack of chromed parts but less reliably, and neither says anything about what model the camera is.

I have to side with Team Crown Graphic based on what we know so far.
 

Dan Fromm

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You can look up Graflex serial number ranges here: http://graflex.coffsbiz.com/serials.html to find both model and manufacture date within a year or so.

Unfortunately this isn't quite correct.

Graflex Inc. and predecessors assigned serial numbers sequentially in blocks (smallest block size, 1) from the beginning until the introduction of Pacemaker Graphics in 1947. So for cameras made before 1947, s/n carries no information about which model has it.

In 1947, Graflex Inc. changed its procedure and assigned large blocks of serial numbers to Pacemaker Graphics by type (Speed, Crown) and size (2x3, 3x4, 4x5). In 1949 another block of serial numbers was set aside for the Century Graphic. So Century Graphic and early Pacemaker Graphics serial numbers identify the cameras by type and size.

And then later in 1949 they merged the Pacemaker Graphic s/n blocks by type and started assigning serial numbers by size within merged block. From then on, serial number can't be used to tell a Speed Graphic from a Crown Graphic.

I haven't checked, so could be mistaken, but I believe that Graflex started putting a metal s/n plate on the inside of the outer bed (= front door) with Pacemaker Graphics. Before then the s/n was stamped somewhere on the inside of the box.
 
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Walter S.

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I hope this works. It says Folmer & Schwing Division of Eastman Kodak Co. So I don't think it's a Burke & James. But at the same time, it doesn't say Speed Graphic either. As you can see it has posts on top for something. A handle? from that link showing all the models, that would make it a Top Handle Speed, except if it doesn't have an FP shutter, it's a Crown. So it's a Top Handle Crown, but they didn't make Crowns until after the WWII and they didn't make Top Handle Speeds after World War I (ish)

See why I'm confused?
 

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Ian Grant

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You'd need to find an early Graflex catalogue to see the exact model name. It's front standard and track bed are the same as a Pre-anniversary Speed Graphic, and quite obviously it's a pre-cursor to the later Crown Graphics looking exactly like a an early Top handled Speed Graphic except having no shutter. That should give you a date of manufacture somewhere between 1912 & 1927.

Ian
 

Kawaiithulhu

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1917 was when Kodak renamed an earlier company purchase into "Folmer & Schwing Department of the Eastman Kodak Co"

1926 was when this was shunted off in a court ordered fire sale to a holding company "Folmer Graflex Corporation" so from the faceplate it's somewhere in that era.

I went trolling through old manuals (http://www.piercevaubel.com/cam/catalogsekc.htm) which contain some amazing cameras (specialty portrait, naturalist and stereo! varieties) and don't see any mention of this body without the shutter in the box.

Maybe it's a custom build or a custom order item? It would be a simple matter to slice off the shutter and glue the focusing panel back on for a home modification. I have an anniversary era 4x5 that someone did something very similar, sliced off the original spring back and retrofit a graflok so it's not unheard of.

I love a mystery and hope someone has an answer!
 

shutterfinger

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Walter, return the front standard to the body as if closing. Look at the under side of the camera top, there is possibly a 5 or 6 digit number stamped on the right side as you face the camera in normal orientation.
http://www.graflex.org/articles/kingslake/ is a more accurate history of Graflex Corp.
Please post the serial number when you find it.
 
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Walter S.

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Is this a Pre-Anniversary? I stole this from ebay. While the metal vertical pieces and knobs look like mine, I think the whole front part is wider. Also on mine the bottom sheetmetal piece that holds the lens board doesn't move, and this one does. So I don't think it's a Pre-Anniversary.

I looked at the catalog, discovered if you click it, a photo shows up. That RB Cycle Graphic is much fancier than mine. Way too many knobs on the bed and the focus rails are wood, where mine are steel.

Speaking of steel. The Speed Graphic on that same catalog looks really close to mine--even has the wood part under the lens board. But while that model's metal is painted a battleship grey, mine looks like it's been blued rather than painted. Except it's not blue. More confusion. Also that camera has the rails that sit on top of the bed, while rails sit in a notch or groove and sit flush with either side of the bed. (see second photo)

Oh man they do hide that serial number: 56,981
 

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shutterfinger

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That serial number is listed as a Spec. 3x4 Speed Graphic. Only 6 were made on the job number. No way to tell the date but possibly 1912-1918 range.
The hardware finish is .00005 silver plating on brass. Any attempt to clean with metal polish of any kind will remove the silver.
 

jamie young

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I'm with Dan Fromm
I think it looks like a late model cycle graphic. The cycle graphic was the precursor to the crown and speed models.
 

Dan Fromm

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I'm with Dan Fromm
I think it looks like a late model cycle graphic. The cycle graphic was the precursor to the crown and speed models.

I think I was mistaken. Charles quoted the book correctly. As Ian Grant pointed out, the OP's camera isn't much like a Cycle Graphic. If you look at the picture I gave a link for, you'll see that the Cycle Graphic has triple extension, with screws sticking up from the bed to lock the bed sections. The OP's camera doesn't have these screws. The front standards aren't that much alike, either. And the Cycle doesn't have cut-outs in the sides for the focusing knobs, as the OP's camera does.

It isn't likely, but the OP may have misread the s/n. I looked in the neighborhood of 56,981. The last Cycle Graphics before it are 56,566 - 56,715 and the first after are 76,850 - 76,924.
 

shutterfinger

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jamie young,
go to http://www.graflex.org/helpboard/ and dig to confirm that although Folmer and Schwing serial numbered their cameras from the beginning they kept no record until after being purchased by Eastman Kodak. Sometime after being purchased by Kodak Mr. Folmer or Mr. Schwing went out and purchased a single entry ledger commonly used in accounting. In this book was listed a job number, quantity, camera type, beginning serial number, ending serial number. This continued until July 1922 when the date the entry was made in the book was added. This book was used until 1962. The last administrator of the Graflex Corp. took the book with him when the company came to an end in 1973. The book was scanned and copies given to a handful of trusted people. One of those persons gave Dan and myself a copy of their copy. Several pages from the beginning of the book are missing, reason unknown but speculated to be wear and tear.
The serial number list linked to in (there was a url link here which no longer exists)'s post was compiled and shared by me from serial number posts on graflex.org help board before the book copy was made available to me. The only other information that will exceed the book will be the original sales receipt with the camera serial number on it.

And before anyone asks for a copy of the book deposit $10,000,000 to my bank account and I will at least consider sending you one, but there are no guarantees I will.
 

Ian Grant

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We now only really know about the obvious special order Graflex cameras (Police, Prison, Military etc) some of which were assembled in third party workshops from parts supplied by Graflex.

There were less common special order cameras, I have a custom made pre-Anniversary WA Speed Graphic that was clearly made that way rather than converted later.

There's also very little known about Graflex's secretive links with the British company MPP after WWII. MPP's Micro Press is essentially Speed Graphic parts in a Celestion made casing. MPP the camera manufacturer & Celestion the speaker manufacturers were owned by the same person.

Ian
 

Ian Grant

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That serial number is listed as a Spec. 3x4 Speed Graphic. Only 6 were made on the job number. No way to tell the date but possibly 1912-1918 range.
The hardware finish is .00005 silver plating on brass. Any attempt to clean with metal polish of any kind will remove the silver.

Maybe Walter should double check the format. The possible 1912-1918 date matches the style of Speed Graphic and the small batch size would seem to indicate a special order. You have the book so does the term "Spec." have any significance in this case ?

Ian
 

Dan Fromm

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Maybe Walter should double check the format. The possible 1912-1918 date matches the style of Speed Graphic and the small batch size would seem to indicate a special order. You have the book so does the term "Spec." have any significance in this case ?

Ian
It is an abbreviation for special. Turns up from time to time in the book. What makes the camera(s) special isn't spelled out. The book is very terse.
 
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