Sandeha Lynch ... Photography and Sculpture
Whole Plate Restoration

Houghton Triple Victo

This is a mahogany and brass Whole Plate camera, probably made between 1900 and 1910. It has a label saying "Gerard & Co, London", but the design, the metalwork and the joinery are identical to the Houghton Triple Victo, so I suspect that Gerard was the name of a dealer.

The original back and the shutter and lens mount are missing, but the camera was repaired at some point in the past and a new lens mount was made for it in ebony and aluminium. A Kodak Whole Plate back was also fitted.

It's quite likely that it has not been used for at least 50 years, but Whole Plate film (6.5"x8.5") is still available.

The first task was to strip the body down completely for cleaning and resurfacing. The wood varnish was in poor condition and the brass lacquer was badly pitted. After cleaning, Danish oil and wax polish were applied to the wood, and lacquer was sprayed onto the metalwork and screws.

The second task was to create a replacement tripod mount. The original Victorian design of tripod catch was missing, leaving a large hole in the base of the camera. Strips of mahogany were glued together and cut into a roundel to fill the hole. A slot for a 1/4" nut and a brass locking plate was then cut into the base.

This was embedded with resin and the roundel was glued in place. Finally, the tripod socket was covered with a brass plate to secure the base and the roundel together.

For the most part the wood and the brass were in good condition although a break in the front standard required a strip of brass sheet for support. The reassembly was straightforward and it provided the opportunity for me to design and make a new set of bellows. This was the first large format bellows I made.

It was worthwhile trying Whole Plate film as a contact print fits well on a sheet of 8x10 paper. However, I also made reducing backs for 5x7 and 4x5 and got some good results.

Although cropped to square from the Whole Plate negative, this is probably one of the better shots.