Seneca View 8×10 – Work begins

Several weeks ago, I received in the mail a Seneca View 8×10.

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This is an early model, pre-dating the Improved View.  According to Mathew Brady, the Seneca View was made between 1901 and 1905. I have noted, though, an inaccuracy in his description, though: He states that the Improved provided corner brackets which served to reinforce the joints; my Seneca View also has such brackets. Minor nit-pick, but, aside from missing hardware on my Improved, this camera is mechanically identical.

Aesthetically, though, this camera is aces. The mahogany woodwork is beautiful and elegant, rather than just functional and utilitarian. The brass, though tarnished by the years, has an attention to detail unlike any other cameras I’ve seen:

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There’s plenty to do on this camera: First, it’s missing the bellows and the front bellows frame. The frame is no problem – 3/8″ mahogany half-lapped at the corners. For the bellows, I’ll again be leaning on Sandeha Lynch. We’re discussing color options – red and black are classic, but I’m thinking a deep shade of green on this one.

Next, the finish of the wood and brass needs some work. The wood will need little more than careful renewal with lacquer thinner; the brass is due to be completely polished with Flitz on a buffing wheel and then relacquered. Then, the extension rail is missing. This will require some parts from McMaster-Carr and dimensions from the rail I have for the Improved View, which fits this cameras. Finally, the ground glass is in pitiful shape. It appears to be a replacement, made with glass sprayed with frosting medium:

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You can see the unevenness of the coverage, with light peeking though:

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Now, I’ve piddled with this camera here and there for a while. Polished a little brass, spent a lot of time looking at it. I’m fairly sure it will replace the Improved when it’s done, as they have identical movements available (geared rise/fall, geared rear swings and tilt). I just find the overall look and feel of the camera much more elegant.

First thing’s first: I think, today, I’m going to try regrinding the glass to remove the sprayed-on frosting and produce a true ground glass. Stay tuned.

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