Photo shop Image By Jim Lersch ( Thanks Jim ! )
have been around Deardorff Cameras nearly 36 of my 52 years. My first
was a 5x7OS from 1937. A red and Gold one that had years of use on it.
In 1970 I bought it at a studio sale in town for 15.00! I also should
bought the five number 10 Cirkuts the widow had too! They were 50.00
and way too much for a 16 year olds budget. I thought that my Deardorff
was far older than '37. In fact I did not know Deardorff was still in
then. That year I started to go to the great old Chicago camera shops.
Wow !! A Dream come true. Cameras all over the place. Every size and
While in Altmans towards the rear of the store I saw my first 8x10
sitting folded up in the display case. 1200.00 Dollars was the
More than a Hasselblad! That price sure made my Seneca 8x10 look good!
Fast forward through the Navy as an Optical Man and Marriage and
retail. In 1980 a high school classmate brought to me an 8x10
in disassembled condition. A 1937 too. He asked if I could repair it.
I took it home
and stripped and refinished it. It looked pretty good. I needed parts
I called Deardorff and ordered
parts. Six months later I got them. I took the camera up to Deardorff
showed it to Merle and Jack Deardorff. Jack handed me 4 cameras on the
spot to refinish for him. I started to go to Deardorff 3 days a week
14 months learning the skills I needed to do the work. I did all the
for Deardorff from 1980-88.
During this time I also did repairs and new construction of cameras at
the factory. I also learned the history of the company and who used
Jack made me historian of Deardorff. Through this I learned and have
on the knowledge given me. L.F.Deardorff' & Sons really never
had a company motto except to make the highest quality camera they
I strive to do the same.
1988 saw the
bankruptcy of Deardorff and the end of an era. It also saw the end of
for me. By 1990 I had made contact with the metal suppliers Deardorff
and had a supply of metal. But at a VERY HIGH price. Deardorff bought
for a few years of production while I needed parts for repair, a few at
best. That problem still exists. From 1980 through 1993 I was
with Jack Deardorff. Differences of opinions caused that relationship
Many people think
are rare. They are not but parts for them can be. Even a current
can have slightly different parts from one made a couple of years
When I have to reproduce a metal part I generally have a camera to copy
it from. But sometimes not. That requires time and patience on my part
as well as the full understanding of my customer. I do get back logged
from time to time. There are times I have had 35 cameras lined up to
Each takes a week if I have the proper parts. This leads to delays. As
I said I use only original Deardorff metal and wood parts.
I do run out of parts and have to spend a lot to get them. I have to
till my suppliers make them which can be months and then clean
plate them. It can be a hassle. But it is all worth while. The cameras
have a new lease of life, another 50-75 years. And that's all
Ken Hough II Age: 52
Married since 1976 to a
Kids: A daughter, Works in
finance and enjoys running tractors.
A 23 yr. old son who REALLY
He is a senior attending Purdue for
Mechanical Engineering Technology. His current project is the restoration
of his very own 1919 20hp Advance Rumely steam traction engine. His motto is
"if it breaks, build a new one".
That's very true of his engine. It has or is getting new replica steps, Tank
brackets, Smoke box door and a new replica smoke stack. All these need a pattern
and a iron foundry to cast the parts. Anything can be reproduced and as he has
shown it can be done.
In March of '99 I developed
Adult onset asthma. Until you can not breath you have no idea
fear is. This was from a drug reaction. My short term memory was also
affected. I am not quite fully recovered
but very close. Please watch those drug interactions!
Hobbies: Using my Deardorffs !
out as much about this company as I can and debunking stories about
cameras. This is my wife's influence here. Being a genealogical
she has to find FACTS about a persons family. I do that with Deardorffs.
During the summer and fall, my
goes to Steam Shows and operates Antique Steam powered equipment at
around the midwest. We hope to own our own tractor some day.
On Monday Oct. 25 1999
mother lost a 11 year battle with Lymphatic Cancer. She had in the past
2 years 3 mini strokes (TIA's) and was hospitalized many times. She
showed great dignity and never complained of pain though it was painful
for me to see her waste away. She inspired my family to collect things
we hold close to us and learn as much as we can. She will be missed.