Photographica Pages

An online guide to collectable cameras and related stuff

John Stock Wet Plate camera

This example of a John Stock camera is complete with a Holmes, Booth and Haydens lens, and well as a four tube set. The lens is a contemporary radial drive lens that was later cut for waterhouse stops. Wet palte emulsions were slow enough that there was never a need to reduce the amount of light striking the plate to achieve a realistic exposure (the shutter was the lens cap, opening and closing it by removing and replacing it). Lenses were often slotted for waterhouse stops when they were used for dry plates, which became fast enough to require shutters.

Wet plate cameras were often converted to dry plate cameras. The distinguishing feature between the two was the back. Wet plate cameras usually had some sort of design to allow the excess liquid emulsion to drain off (the plates were coated and exposed while still wet, and needed to be developed before the emulsion died, hence the name wet plate). One of the ways to tell if the camera you have is truely a wet plate camera is to examine the back. It should be stained. The back was missing from this example, and a replacement fabricated. How do we know it is truely a wet plate camera? John Stock sold out to American Optical before the dry plate was introduced. All John Stock cameras are wet plate.

The four tube set would allow the exposure of four smaller photos on a single plate.

The camera with the single lens mounted, next to the four tube set.

With the four tube set mounted.

The back of the camera.