Rochester Optical Co.
Date Introduced: – ; Years Manufactured: c.1896 – c.1902;
Construction: front focus via two gear tracks on top of base rails; double swing from a center pivot; rising front via thumbscrews on both sides of the front standard; reversing by removable back; base rigidity via a lever inside the base; spring back
Materials: mahogany body; cherry base; black fabric bellows; brass hardware
Sizes Offered: 5×7; 5×8 (photos above); 6.5×8.5 (photo below); 8×10; 10×12; 11×14; 14×17; 17×20; 18×22; 20×24
Notes: The Empire State is a moderately priced version of the well-made and well-finished Ideal. The illustrated camera is 5×8, with it’s original canvas short-version case (there also was a long version that held six plateholders). Variation 1 had a squarer-appearing swing hardware than that illustrated above, and a thumbscrew to make the bed rigid instead of a lever. Variation 3 is a precursor to the Improved Empire State.
The above camera is double swing as illustrated in the engraving (swing is via two knobs underneath the back standard; they bear against inlet brass plates). The single swing version (below) utilizes the same base and back wooden parts, but the swing hardware is omitted, and the back is glued and screwed to the base, rather than pinned by a single central screw.
1896 Catalogue of Photographic Apparatus, Rochester Optical Co., Rochester, NY, 1896, p. 12-13
Dept. 5: Photographic Lenses, Supplies, etc. 2nd ed.; Andrew J. Lloyd & Co. (Boston) catalog, 1897, p. 45
R. Dempster (Omaha, NE) Catalog, 1897, p. 40
George Murphy (New York, NY) Catalog, April 1898, p. 22
Horgan, Robey & Co. (Boston, MA) Catalog, 1898, p. 10-11
Photographic Apparatus, Rochester Optical Co. Catalog, 1899, pp. 12-13
Sears, Roebuck & Co. (Chicago, IL) Catalog, 1902, p. 142