Folding Instantograph - Antique and Vintage Cameras

Folding Instantograph

c. 1895

J. Lancaster & Son



Image of Folding Instantograph

c. 5 " Lancaster Instantaneous.


Polished mahogany with brass binding, dovetail joints. Mauve square cornered, tapered leather bellows.

3 " x 4 " plates held in double dark-slides.

Bellows, rack and pinion movement to inner frame. Double extension.

Reversing back with Lancaster's parallel links.

Ivory name and maker's plaques.

Rising front, cross front, swing and tilting back.

Tripod top with screw.

The Folding model replaced a very similar camera called the Portable Instantograph (1893). The design of the camera is most unusual: there is a fold-down front which forms the baseboard carrying the front standard but there are no supporting struts between the body of the camera and the baseboard as found on other Instantographs, instead a board covering the focusing screen hinges through 270 to lie underneath the baseboard, the tripod screw then clamps the arrangement together. The benefits of the design are not obvious.

Two versions of the Folding were produced, one was leather covered and had an unusual body shape which, in profile, was narrower at the top than the bottom, the second version had a polished mahogany finish and normal rectangular body shape. Each of the two versions was available with an Instantaneous (landscape) or Rectigraph lens.

The odd design of the Folding Instantograph, especially the leather covered model, is similar to the Lancaster Ladies' camera the essential difference being that the Ladies' model is a tailboard model (essentially one is the reverse of the other).

The camera remained on sale into the early 1900s but, judging by the number of known examples, very few could have been sold. It was produced in quarter-plate, half-plate and whole-plate sizes.

Advertisements show the camera fitted with a normal Rectigraph lens mounted on the lens panel, this would necessitate the removal of the lens when folding the camera. The landscape lens was fitted in a sunk mount allowing it to remain in place when the camera was closed. Early advertisements do not show the adjustment for the tilting back.

References & Notes:
BJP 16/6/1893, p. 378. BJA 1894, p. 414. BJA 1898, p. 437. BJA 1903, p. 492.

Company Details:

Lancaster & Son

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