Meet the Seroco 4×5 View camera. Dating from circa 1902, the Seroco cameras were a brand from Sears and Roebuck, and could b purchased mail-order through their catalog.
This camera is likely a rebadged Conley or Rochester Optical make, with a Wollensak shutter and lens definitely manufactured in Rochester, NY.
The camera is very complete: the carrying case and plate holds were both included, and intact – except for the case top. The bellows appears to still be light-tight after all these years and the adjustments are pretty smooth.
The film holders are for holding the 4×5” glass plates, the precursor to modern film. One of the holders still had an unexposed plate inside!
I’ve started cleaning the camera up – polishing the metal components and running some leather conditioner over the camera body and bellows. It’s still fairly supple, and opens and closes smoothly.
The Wollensak shutter is the real interesting piece here though.
This shutter uses small pneumatic pistons to alter the time the shutter stays open based on the shutter speed you select. The shutter leaves were gummed up, but now move freely.
I’ll probably do a special post about the shutter itself, once I get it working. Polishing the pistons so they glide in and out is the key to keeping the shutter working smoothly and accurately.
I’m really excited to have found this treasure, and the price could not be beat! My hope is to get it all working and make some nice photographs with it.