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Reversible plate holders w “a vertical cut-off board”, c1920s Australia?

I am a curator currently researching half-plate size (approx. 4.75 x 6.5 inches) cameras and accessories available in Sydney, Australia, from the early 1920s that might have been used to create a series of portraits on dry plate negative held in our collection.

While half-plate was a common size, I am wondering how the photographer might have exposed two different images on a single negative. Please see example photographs at links below.

An advertisement from a local photographic journal published in 1923 for the Eastman View camera series - Eastman View Camera No. 1 and Eastman View Camera No 2 – includes the statement “The back is reversible and furnished with a vertical cut-off board, so that two negatives may be made on one plate if desired”.

- Would anyone know if this type of plate holder is unique to Eastman brand cameras, or even these specific models?

- If not, what were the brands/ model/ details for plate holders that allowed two exposures on one negative?

- Were these plate holders like this generally available for sale and during what period?

Any feedback on this research would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks in advance!

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Comment by Jeffrey S Gould on April 10, 2017 at 9:14

Hi Holly,

Amongst my collection of cameras I have a single lens stereo camera by Watson. The lens can be slid across from one side to the other. I think that with a septum, such a picture as you show could easily be made. Not sure how you send photos on this site, but if you send me your email address I'll forward you some pictures of my camera.



Comment by Graham Harrison on March 28, 2017 at 11:22

Not at all Holly. 

Comment by Holly Schulte on March 28, 2017 at 2:33

Thanks Graham, I've found it! Cheers, Holly.

Comment by Graham Harrison on March 27, 2017 at 14:49

Maybe contact a Darrin Hill of College Station, Texas? He posted a pic of a "split-back" plate camera which could produce images like that on the 'Historic Camera' Facebook page just now.

Comment by Holly Schulte on March 24, 2017 at 0:23

Thanks for this information, Michael! I’ll keep looking into the repeating backs.

Could you please let me know the source of the Gandolfi police camera image?

Cheers, Holly.

Comment by Michael Pritchard on March 16, 2017 at 7:10

Repeating backs (which allowed plate holders to be moved a set distance for making multiple exposures on a single plate) have a long history back to the1850s where they were used for making stereo pairs and the 1860s where they were used for carte-de-visite photographs. More specialist uses such as for three-colour work (usually for producing three separate images on separate plates) and police mugshots are also known. So the Eastman camera wasn't unique.

There is an example of the Gandolfi police camera with repeating back and plate holder visible here: 

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