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Century Universal info?
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RichS



Joined: 18 Oct 2001
Posts: 1467
Location: South of Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2003 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've hinted at this but since I now have the beast in my hands, I'm going to ask outright.

Does anyone know where I can find any info about the 8x10 Century Universal cameras?

About the only info I can find is the review on largeformat.info. It's a great review with nice photos, but nothing technical about different models or construction. And I'm asking here because they were made by Folmer Graflex.

I ask because, as if noone here would guess, I have two of them (as just about everything else)

One has painted metal (all brass as far as I can tell). A dull grey. And only one front swing mechanism which does seem to be the way it was made and not broken.
(that's not 'swing'! It's _tilt_... Duh...)

The other is plated brass with both front tilt mechanisms. This seems to be the only differences I've noticed so far. The odd thing about this one is that they 'brass' plated the brass! And that 'brass' plating doesn't tarnish like some of the exposed brass underneath! This may sound dumb, but they wouldn't have gold plated the brass, would they?

Anyway, if anyone knows of any more info about these cameras I would love to hear about it. Web sites, books, someone who actually has an instruction manual, anything??

Thanks!


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[ This Message was edited by: RichS on 2003-11-20 13:01 ]
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RichS



Joined: 18 Oct 2001
Posts: 1467
Location: South of Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2003 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought I would add some info that may interest anyone who wants to buy an old camera with a leather bellows.

I just got the quote from camerabellows for approx $280 for a new synthetic replacement. They don't do leather. And that does not include the cost of shipping my old bellows to them plus the return shipping. That's quite an added expense and it pretty much ruins the collector value of the camera since it would no longer be a leather bellows...

I would gues that a 4x5 bellows would be half as much? I doubt it would be a quarter the amount

It may well be a good price, but it sure adds to the cost of the camera!

I've just ordered some leather and plan on trying a fix myself... What the heck


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worldphoto



Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Posts: 199
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2003 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rich
I am sorry to read about your bellows problem. Just something I would do..... I would hunt out a bellows leather person that may be able to make repairs to your classic camera that won't hurt its' collector value too much. I fear that there is too many people that are butchering these cameras because of them being unskilled in these special trades (which includes me!).
Harry
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RichS



Joined: 18 Oct 2001
Posts: 1467
Location: South of Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2003 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks. But I'm not sure ther are any bellows repair type people around? And then there would have to be the balance of cost vs camera worth vs what I can afford... I would think that such a restoration would cost more than it's really worth?

I haven't made up my mind yet. If I repair the bellows, any collector value will be lost (as far as the bellows goes anyway). If I replace the bellows, the camera itself may be worth more or less? And the original bellows could always be put back on. But that would cost me more than I think I'm willing to spend right now?

Making a whole new bellows may be just too much for me to get into at the moment (many other things considered). And there would be a long time before I could use the camera...

The best bet would seem to be to buy the new bellows for one camera. That way I could use it for years and not worry. I'd still have the other camera to repair or replace the bellows, or make a new one? But after buying these things, it may be a few months anyway before I can afford the replacement...


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bertsaunders



Joined: 20 May 2001
Posts: 577
Location: Bakersfield California

PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2003 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RichS,
I have looked for leather that is thin enough for a bellows for years, without luck, (and I have some leather that is very very thin)! >What is specifically wrong with the bellows, worn corners, light leaks or torn places.....or???<
A homemade bellows would be the least favorable re-storation solution, it would degrade the value to "0", a synthetic replacement would not de-value the camera that much, it is expensive, but about the only alternitive, a usable camera is more valuable than a museum piece! Save the old bellows, if you sell the camera, it would be a bonus to the buyer!......Bert
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worldphoto



Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Posts: 199
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2003 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The $280 price tag for a special built bellows doesn't appear too high to me. I paid around $140 for my 8x10 bellows on eBay about two years ago. Then I had to built the camera around the bellows. It worked out good though because the bellows closed so I can carry my camera in an attache case, except for the rail and lens.
Harry
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Springback



Joined: 30 Jul 2002
Posts: 113
Location: Fresno, where the raisins come from!

PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2003 1:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

FWIW, I seem to recall reading somewhere that the Century Universal was Edward Weston's favorite 8x10. Theres not an "E.W." scratched into the mahogany somewhere, is there?

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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3219
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2003 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote



[ This Message was edited by: 45PSS on 2005-12-26 20:26 ]
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RichS



Joined: 18 Oct 2001
Posts: 1467
Location: South of Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2003 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's see if I can do this in one message?

I can find leather from 1oz (approx 1/64) and possibly thinner. The thinner stuff comes from book binders but it gets a bit expensive from them. The 1oz stuff is common and pretty cheap. I think it would be too thick for this bellows but may work to patch missing sections. This bellows extends to 29 inches and collapes to ONE inch. I wouldn't have thought it possible...
The bellows range from cracked corners, to missing sections (in the corners) os 1/2 inch square or so. Basically, the corners cracked and some of the leather is gone. The liners on both are close to light tight. Minor pinholes easily patched. So it's just the outer cover that is suffering.

Harry: Yeah, but you paid half! Seriously, I think it's a decent price and I've read ntohing but compliments about their work.

Springback: Sorry, I haven't seen any inscribed initials yet But there's a few spaces I haven't gone over with the loupe yet, so there's hope!


I find it amazing that this camera has been used and loved/hated by so many famous people and yet there seems to be absolutley no information available about it. I'm starting to think it's a phantom camera...


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RichS



Joined: 18 Oct 2001
Posts: 1467
Location: South of Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2003 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

On 2003-11-20 18:26, 45PSS wrote:
And are you going to outbid me on that universal wreck on e________?



I would love to. I really could use some of those parts!


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RichS



Joined: 18 Oct 2001
Posts: 1467
Location: South of Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2003 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I've asked at lf.info about the collectability of this camera and new bellows. So far the opinion is going that it's actually worth more with a new bellows... I may agree...

And I finally found the web site of Turner Bellows ( turnerbellows.com oddly enough) who is almost in my backyard. I could actually hand deliver the camera to them for the duplication. They don't do leather either but I've read a lot of good reports about their work. We'll see how they do on the quote? I would prefer to deal with a local company even if I do have to pay the highest taxes in the land...

And 45PSS, check your PM...

Hold on. I just got back the response from Turner. $185!!! Okay, that makes up my mind I'll be calling them on Monday to make arrangements...
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[ This Message was edited by: RichS on 2003-11-21 12:59 ]
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RichS



Joined: 18 Oct 2001
Posts: 1467
Location: South of Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2003 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And to continue

I have now seen and held three Century Universal 8x10 cameras. All three have a different front standard.

One has the well known dual tilt mechanism with the friction rise.
The second has a single front tilt mechanism.
The third has no front tilt and geared rise.

So there was some differences in models from the factory.

And after some additional thought. This camera could have no direct relationship with the previously absorbed Century Camera Company. By the time this camera was built, the Folmer Graflex Company had already split from Kodak ownership and the Century "Division" went with them (apparently). So I'm thinking that Graflex designed this camera and obviously built it.

So why is there information about the 8x10 Crown View available, but nothing for the Century Universal? Are there no 90+ year old employees left who would have some information? Why is this camera which was, and still is, used by so many famous peoople completely ignored by photo history?

Sorry, just some ramblings after yet another net search...


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Les



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 2682
Location: Detroit, MI

PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2003 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When you get your bellows back from Turner and found out

A. the camera won't close
and or
B. the bellows now extends to 26" instead of 29"

don't say you weren't warned.

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RichS



Joined: 18 Oct 2001
Posts: 1467
Location: South of Rochester, NY

PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2003 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

On 2003-12-03 09:48, Les wrote:
When you get your bellows back from Turner and found out

A. the camera won't close
and or
B. the bellows now extends to 26" instead of 29"

don't say you weren't warned.



Am I lucky that I haven't committed yet to the new bellows? If a quality _fitting_ bellows will cost me 100 bucks more from England, it would be worth it!


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Les



Joined: 09 May 2001
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Location: Detroit, MI

PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2003 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Write to Camera Bellows in England and ask them who they make bellows for (they are the OEM for several lines of cameras)

Then ask Turner. "Will I be able to close the camera/ Will I be able to stretch this out ALL THE WAY? (Then ask them to put it in writing) Ask to see a sample of bellows ON similar cameras. It's one thing to see bellows out of a camera, another to see how it fits inside one. got a list of happy clients? How about referals?

At this point they may give you the New York brush off as they can't be bothered with "problem" clients.

They may have changed but in the 80s, they were known for either coming up short or not being able to fully compress since their material is/was a lilttle bit thicker.

The reason the bellows can go from 1" to 29" is because it nests, and if you don't get that juuussst right....


You haven't found EW's initials, have you found a serial number.......?

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