The inspiration has been unleashed! From my short stint of research I have concluded this is a Graphic View II 4×5 View Camera introduced by Graflex Inc. in Rochester New York in 1949. The determining factor identifying the Graphic View I and the II seems to be the length of the bellows (stretchy black accordion part). The original has a length of 12″ and the model II has 16″.
I bought this camera about 4 years ago at a garage sale from a man named Ken P. in Terrace British Columbia where we once lived for 3 years. He had intentions of using this camera as well, but you know how good intentions usually pan out…. I may of paid about $100 for it. The downside of the purchase is that it’s missing a lens and a lens board. Thankfully eBay now exists and finding such things is a whole lot easier than it was back in the rotary phone days.
This camera holds a little more significance than your regular Graphic View II. On the front of the frame is a plaque inscribed with USN Property 62995-001850 which if I’m not mistaken is the US Navy. There are definite signs of use on the camera. Was it used by the Navy on a ship? If it was, it missed WWII by four years. Maybe the Vietnam War… who knows. I’m not sure how to trace it back. Another odd thing about this camera is that all the photo’s I’ve seen online, they all have red bellows. I have to wonder if these bellows were replaced or a special series were built for the US government.
So from what I can tell this is a very usable camera. The ground glass on the back has a corner broken out but that shouldn’t affect the composing or focusing in any negative way. Photo’s online also suggest this model came with a metal collapsible barn door shroud in the back to shade the ground glass. My camera seems to be lacking that feature. I’m thinking they were removed on purpose since I don’t see any damage on what looks like use to be the hinge mount. I’ll probably substitute that for some black cloth. This also came with two wooden double sided film packs. I will keep one stock for regular 4×5 sheet film and the other one eventually will probably be modified to hold Japanned tin plates on one side and glass plates on the other side. Yes… tin and glass… so exciting. If everything goes as planned this one camera will be teaching me almost every I need to learn about exposure, supplies and chemistry.