Dating a Deardorff
        The only Deardorffs that can be dated to the day of manufacture are the ones with a Serial number on the lensboard retaining strip. These cameras are, in order of size, V4 4x5 Special, serial numbers start at 100 in Feb. 1951.  V5 5x7 View, serial numbers start at 100 in Dec.1950.  V8 8x10, serial numbers start at 500 May of 1950. V11 11x14, serial numbers start at 100 in 1953 .There are a few cameras that have no destination in the date book. This was an oversight of Deardorffs secretary. I can give Exact dates just Email me at For earlier built cameras a detailed description is in this web site at each cameras page. Remember there are many 1926-49 cameras with absolutly no identification of any form on them.

It is not in the DETAILS

    Lots of  potential Deardorff buyers are confused about what comes on a Deardorff in terms of details.
Remember, there was a Father and three sons who all had a different opinion what a camera was. For instance, The Decal on the side. If they had them in stock they MIGHT put one on the camera. The same with the small name plate that was on lots of pre war cameras. Merle Deardorff thought that the cameras design alone was enough recognition. He never put any identification on ones he built ( Pre 1950). What is the metal ?? Mostly brass coated with Shellac ('23-25), Gold paint ('26-37), Nickel plating ('38-88) IT IS NEVER CHROME.
The round Bed Plate that the tripod screws into? That did NOT come into existence until 1952 with the order of cameras from the U.S Air Force. It was standard on all models thereafter. There were 4 models of bed plates! ALL the bed plates say "L.F.Deardorff & Sons   Photographic Equipment". There was never a blank ( no words) bed plate from the factory.
This means you could have a Front Swing (FS) camera circa 1950 without a bed plate. Baby Deardorffs ( V4OS ) never had a bed plate unless it was put on later. How about a V8 with Front Swings no bed plate and the old style Cast Aluminum Rear Swing (pre 1938) ? Easy, It was converted to FS at the factory after 1950. That means a 1933 (earliest V8 that can be converted) can have FS. Nickel plated knobs or aluminum ones? Sometime in the late 60s saw that change and during that time there were 4 styles of knobs!. All Deardorff cameras were made of mahogany. With the few exceptions of WW II vintage cameras that were Spanish Cedar and the early Home Portraits had some Walnut in them.
Deardorff was first a manufacture of cameras and did what all factories did..... Used the old parts till they were gone.  This is why there will always be little variations in the cameras.

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