To get the ball roliing:
Goerz Taro Tenax Unboxing
This came to light during a loft clean-out earlier in the year:
Open it up and the contents are revealed as a few flat things and a black brick:
The brick is unusual as it has some "shutters" and a window:
Standing it up and pressing the right button reveals all:
It's a Taro Tenax, made just under a hundred years ago by C. P. Goerz. There's a brief history of the company here
at Wikipedia while the camera is described more fully here
at Camerapedia. Looking at the catalogues at Sylvain Halgand's Goerz Taro Tenax 9 x 12 mod. II
page I'm guessing that my camera dates back at least to 1913.
I was given it by a generous neighbour back in the sixties to allow me to do some astrophotography, probably because the shutter mechanism was already missing though I have no memory now of whether I ever possessed it. With all the certainty of a young teenager I knew that because the professionals used glass plates in their cameras that by doing the same I'd take stunning photos. Of course I know better now and while I had a self-built 6" Newtonian reflecting telescope I could never afford an equatorial mounting for it and my metalworking skills were never the equal of the task of making my own. But I had some fun even if my one and only remaining shot of the moon was pretty awful. But heck, it was a simpler age, I was very young and I had great fun taking it.
I scanned the plate and then did a bit of Photoshopping. As I remarked it's pretty awful but I do wonder what my younger self would have thought had he known the power of the technologies we can now bring to bear in the digital darkroom. To put it in context, this was a time when silicon transistors were just beginning to take over from germanium and the phrase "home computer" was an oxymoron.
Just for fun I took the lens off my 5D Mark II and lined it up behind the Taro Tenax (plate holder removed). Lots of light leakage and the optical axes were certainly not correctly lined up but just being able to place a modern digital sensor behind a camera dating back to before the first World War and grab an image made me happy all over again, even if the results aren't much, if any, of an improvement over that moon shot taken more than forty years ago.
As you can imagine, these were just quick shots from within the house as I hate having an unprotected digital sensor free to attract any dust particles it fancies. That last one is a 100% crop.