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RB Series B Graflex Mystery (warning: it's a long story)

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Joined: 20 Jul 2008
Posts: 103
Location: Hudson Valley Area, Upstate NY

PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2008 9:45 pm    Post subject: RB Series B Graflex Mystery (warning: it's a long story) Reply with quote

I read the article in the latest GHQ on the Graflex ReNEWal program with interest. It explains why we find postcard-format top-handles Speeds with 4x5 backs, and how early cameras were modernized (and modified). It led me to wonder about my 2x3 RB Series B Graflex. It has raised, 'modern' hardware of 1920's and later cameras, not earlier, flat brass plates. It looks like the version in my 1936 catalog, EXCEPT:
1)-It has a synthetic (Post-WWII) hood with silver lettering. The nameplate looks like it was moved to the side of the body; 2)-It has oxidized-brass hardware, which only makes sense pre-1930/31; 3)-The serial number, stamped into the back of the top lid behind the viewing hood, is 33127 (it doesn't appear that the lid is a replacement. The supports are anodized, the attaching screws appear original). The digits are stamped very clearly, centered just below the upper set of handle rivets, in a neat row. No faint number 1 or 2 before the serial number, looks like it was stamped as a FIVE DIGIT (early) serial number.
Inside the body, visible when the hood is removed, are two counter-sunk holes in the wood above the focusing knob. No sign of holes on outside. One is exactly where the focusing knob on my 2x3 Auto Graflex Junior (S.N. 36285) is located. The other, above it, is slightly out of line (they don't match the holes needed for a Graflex flash bracket). Hole #2 would appear to line up with the location of the focusing knob on a 2x3 Revolving Back Graflex Junior.
Each side of the camera body is made from several panels of wood, finger jointed and braced together, smooth and ebonized inside. From the location of the holes and seams, it appears like the camera body started out as a 2x3 Auto-Graflex Junior, then was enlarged to make the box for an RB Graflex Junior. Why the pre-WWI serial number? Was the lid some new-old-stock part? Was this camera a 2x3 Revolving Back Graflex Junior that was modernized into an RB Series B in the 30's or 40's??
For comparison, I also have a late-model 2x3 RB Series B (S.N. 463054) in black crinkle paint and chrome-trimmed, c. 1948 (the viewing hoods can be interchanged). It lacks those internal holes and seams. It came to me fitted with a Graflite flash bracket (ala Super D models), with a synchronizer attached to the shutter mechanism. Externally, they are almost identical, except for the different nameplate and trimmings on the later model. Internally, the two bodies do appear to be built differently.
Anybody have any ideas about the origin of the older camera? ('')
Got first Speed Graphic at 15 (1976).Other kids were using 35mm SLR's. I ran around with flashbulbs and sheet-film holders, I wanted to be Weegee (#2084).
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