19th CENTURY STUDIO CAMERA WITH STAND & LENS MARKED R. WALZL OF BALTIMORE

$6,820.00
Originally $7,320.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 997-01

Shipping: Determined by Method & Location of buyer

To Order:
Call 717-334-0347,
Fax 717-334-5016, or E-mail

At the middle of the 19th century, the newest technology was wet-plate photography, a process in which an image is captured on chemically coated pieces of plate glass. This was a complicated process done exclusively by photographic professionals. Cameras at this time were bulky and difficult to maneuver. All of the chemicals used in the process had to be mixed by hand, including a mixture called collodion. Collodion is made up of several types of dangerous chemicals including ethyl ether and acetic or sulfuric acid. The photographer began the process of taking a photograph by positioning and focusing the camera. Then, he mixed the collodion in preparation for the wet-plate process. First, collodion was used to coat the plate glass in order to sensitize it to light. In a darkroom, the plate was then immersed in silver nitrate, placed in a light-tight container, and inserted into the camera. Next, the lens cap on the camera was removed for two to three seconds, exposing it to light and imprinting the image on the plate. Replacing the cap, the photographer immediately took the plate, still in the light-tight container, to his darkroom, where he developed it in a solution of pyrogallic acid. After washing and drying the plate with water, the photographer coated it with a varnish to protect the surface. This process created a plate glass negative. Once the plate-glass negative was made, the image could be printed on paper and mounted.

This camera was converted from wet-plate to dry, but has a wet-plate holder so is still able to produce them. Back of wet-plate holder is a reproduction. Camera has one reproduction water stop.

Lens is made of brass. Optics are clear with no deficiencies in the glass. It has a petzval style lens which projects approximately 8”x 10”. Lens cap is a reproduction made out of tin covered leather. Engraved on side is, “NO. 1377 R. WALZL, BALTO”. Lens belonged to Richard Edmund Walzl who operated Walzl’s Palace of Photography in Baltimore, MD. Walzl (1843-1899), a German immigrant, opened his first photographic gallery in Baltimore in 1862. Walzl was an energetic entrepreneur. Walzl was not content to sell photographs, however. He sold photographic supplies, published journals, “The Photographer’s Friend” and, “Photographic Rays of Light” as well as books on photography, and involved himself in Baltimore’s public affairs. At the time of this death he was the most prosperous photographer and dealer in the Mid-Atlantic region. During the Civil War, Walzl temporarily closed his business in Baltimore and travelled to Richmond where he worked as a photographer. When he returned to Baltimore, he was arrested for suspicions of disloyalty, as noted in the book, “Introduction to Civil War Photography” by Ross J. Kelbaugh.

Camera rests on wooden stand which is mounted on iron legs and casters. Brake lever is present by back caster. Iron wheel on the side lowers or raises camera table. Hand-crank at back of table angles camera. All parts are original and fully function.

Camera, stand and lens were owned and used by famed Gettysburg photographer Rob Gibson, who has operated Gibson’s Photographic Gallery on Steinwehr Avenue since 1999. Gibson’s work has appeared in numerous television productions and motion pictures.  His demonstrations have been featured at the Smithsonian and The White House Press Corps. Rob Gibson's research and pioneering work in the revival of the wet plate technique lead to a renewal of interest in Civil War era photography. His work has appeared in many movies and documentaries. Many of his subjects are famous, such as Bob Dylan and Roger Daltry. All conversions to camera and lens cap were done by Mr. Gibson himself.  [sl]

Special shipping arrangements required; it is preferable that item be picked up here at the shop. 

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