THE PHOTOGRAPHIC HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF CANADA

A TREASURE FROM MY COLLECTION

Bill Belier

Bill Belier

Bill started this column away back in 1984 and it appeared from time to time up to 1991. In March 1998, Bill reactivated the column at the request of then President Robert Wilson to add more hardware content to the journal. It has since appeared in 27 consecutive issues to date. The focus of the column goes beyond a description of the treasure to what makes it special to the owner - where it was found, was it a sleeper, a basket case, of sentimental value?

Tonight, Bill provided two “live” stories, the first, “A Basket Case”, was presented by Ed Warner while the second, “The Mosquito Story”, a 35mm slide find with great sentimental value to presenter Larry Boccioletti.


A Basket Case

Ed Warner discusses a restoration fine point

Ed carefully placed a beautiful example of an Eastman View No. 1 (8 x 10 size) plate camera from the early 1900s on the table, with pictures of the camera before restoration. Ed relates how he saw a broken view camera in an Oshawa camera shop. It was dirty, missing parts, and had a badly sagging and torn bellows. To his surprise, he next spotted the camera on display in a local museum - in exactly the same state of repair as before! He contacted the owner and agreed to purchase the camera after the museum finished with it.

Ed is the consummate handyman. An electrician by trade, Ed also enjoys wood working and is a member of the Tool Group, a collector’s group devoted to old tools of the trade from the days of hand tools and fine craftsmanship. His skills were put to the test with this little gem. (NOTE: Ed's objective was to bring the camera to an attractively finished working condition. He did not attempt to restore the camera to its original specifications).

He completely stripped the camera down, cleaned and refinished all the wooden parts and made or replaced all the brass fittings including part of the focusing rail and the tripod mount. A well stocked junk box provided a source of many of the brass pieces and screws he needed.

The bellows was another story. The original was beyond repair so Ed decided to make a replacement bellows out of fine black leather. He borrowed a video on how to make a bellows from fellow PHSC member Mike Robinson, a modern day Daguerrian photographer who has also made cameras. The final product was an excellent replacement for the century-old original bellows.

Ed augmented the camera with a replacement for the traditional focusing cloth the photographer hid under to see his ground glass. Ed rummaged in his junk box again and came up with some auxiliary lens elements. He fastened these to a square cardboard cone to try out as a focusing aid. Once satisfied that the viewing distance was correct, Ed replaced the cardboard with an aluminum cone painted black.

Eastman View No. 1 Camera
Eastman View No. 1 from front
Name plate on the camera

The Mosquito Story

A Kodak Moment - Larry and Ed wrestle with the slide tray

When Larry was a young lad down in the Niagara peninsula, he had a job with a small machine factory. In the 1940s, this firm made components for the famous De Havilland Mosquito bombers which were made in Downsview, just northwest of Toronto at the time. He recalled the thrill of being at the factory the day a Mosquito bomber flew over their plant at a height of 75 feet to show the employees where their products were being used. Later in his career, Larry became the staff photographer for De Havilland, recording the creation of many of its famous commercial aircraft models.

This morning (April 16th), he received a call from Mrs. Holliday, whose late husband Joe Holliday, wrote a history of the Canadian production of the famous warplane (Mosquito - Doubleday 1970, reprinted in paperback by Paper Jacks Ltd. in 1980). She had found some old slides and wondered if Larry would like them.

The slide set, titled “The Mosquito Story” is a presentation on the Canadian manufacture of the famous plywood WWII bomber made at De Havilland’s Toronto area factory. The slide set appears to be a promotional or motivational series including shots of the factory, aircraft construction, dignitaries, and even some airplane crashes. It will take Larry some time and effort to pull the slide story together. Click on "The Mosquito Story" to see a selection of images from the slide show.

Link to our Mosquite Story slide page
Link to Dr. Andy Dawson's Mosquito page

The slides are a fascinating picture of a time when Canada worked with the rest of the commonwealth to defeat the Nazi invasion in Europe. I found two excellent web sites devoted to this fast little bomber. The first is the VECTOR SITE created by Greg Goebel who lives in the US Northwest. www.vectorsite.net has a very informational and detailed history of the Mosquito, including the Canadian production. The second is THE MOSQUITO PAGE, a British site devoted to the “Mossie” and created by Dr. Andy Dawson. www.mossie.org is a colourful site with lots of images and links. It including tracking information on the remaining examples of this aircraft and their condition.

While Bill has a number of articles on the go, he is always searching for new material. Why not contact him at belier@echo-on.net with the story of your treasure? Oh yes, if the story doesn’t suit his column, editor Bob Lansdale will be happy to place it elsewhere in the journal.
(You must have a treasure to talk about - everyone does. Put some notes and images together and send off to Bill.)

Well that's it for this month. If you have any questions, you can contact Bill Belier. The images on this page from Larry's presentation were taken with a Nikon 990 digital camera directly from the screen and adjusted in Photoshop. Click on any small image to see it larger in a separate window. Please note the Mosquito images are now ©2003 and owned by Larry Boccioletti who should be contacted before use. The other images are ©2003 by the Photographic Historical Society of Canada and may be used if the source is mentioned.

Bob Carter

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