Nelson's Portable - Antique and Vintage Cameras

Nelson's Portable





Image of Nelson's Portable

Spanish mahogany, dovetail joints, brass binding and brass fittings. Cloth square cornered tapered bellows.

11" x 9" exposures.

Bellows, double extension. Focusing by worm screw which moves the inner frame carrying the front standard.

Spirit level.

Rising front.

Focusing screen. 1 wet-plate dark-slide. 3 Double slides for paper negatives. Case.

This is an unusual Kinnear type camera for either wet-plates or paper negatives. It was shown at the Photographic Society of Scotland (PSS) meeting in November 1859 and described in the Photographic Journal of the same year. The maker is given as Mr. Nelson of Clyde St. Edinburgh. Nelson does not appear in the Post Office directories for the period but a cabinet maker is listed in Clyde St. Nelson is also mentioned at a later PSS meeting, reported in the 1863 Photographic Journal, the speaker says that he has had a camera made by Nelson to his own design.

The notable feature of the camera is the large dovetails that are used to attach the body to the baseboard, on other Kinnears bolts were used. The front standard is also able to tilt which can be used instead of a tilting back.

The camera is made of Spanish mahogany with expertly cut dovetail joints, varying thicknesses of the side panels mean that the dovetails are of different lengths (tricky to cut).

Surrounding the spirit-level and front panel fixings is inlaid brass of very intricate shape. There is also inlaid brass on the corners of the camera and some of the dark-slides. The double slide contains blotting paper used to separate the negatives.

The original Kinnear camera was also shown at a Photographic Society of Scotland meeting in 1857, that camera was made by Bell of Potter St. Edinburgh. C.G.H. Kinnear (d. 1894) was a leading figure of Scottish photography at the time, a founding member of the PSS and for some years its secretary and vice-president.

References & Notes:
Phot. Journal 15/11/1859, p. 75. Phot. Journal 15/5/1863. Phot. Journal Vol. iv 1858, p. 165, gives a description of the Kinnear camera.

Further Information:
Information on the Wet Collodion Process.

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Nelson's Portable

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Wet-plate Dark Tent

Early Accessories

Wet-Plate Chemicals

Studio Stand