The Baby Deardorff 
1935-36, '36-42, '42-49
V4, 4x5 Folding View

         How the V4  known as the "Baby Deardorff " came to be involved everything from Chicago politics to a chance meeting with an metal salesman. Deardorff already made the V5, a 5x7 camera that had an accessory 4x5 back. So why a smaller camera?  Chicago was host to the Chicago Worlds Fair from 1932-34. The on site souvenir photographers used 4x5 cameras and there was an expressed rule about bringing a camera that same size or bigger onto the Fairgrounds. A Lawyer wanted to take quality photos of the fair. He contacted Merle Deardorff and asked him to make a 3 1/4 X 4 1/4 camera. Merle started on it but was unable to finish it on time. The fair and the lawyer went away but the seed had been planted in Merles head! In late 1935 he re-designed that camera into a 4x5 model and built 15 prototypes in 1935-36. Some of these cameras were given to noted photographers in Chicago and others were sold. After a year they were recalled to evaluate how they held up.  For the most part they did fine. But the bed had a serious defect. The front extension would fall out when fully extended ! A couple of fixes were done but none were satisfactory. A salesman from an metal extrusion company made a cold call on Deardorff and suggested an extrusion to guide the front and rear extensions. Problem solved. The Early Babys are identified by the wood separator strips on the bed ('35-36). The next versions shared the same bed  with the extrusion but different ways of guiding the sliding panel that holds the lens board. Either a C channel '36-42 or an L '42-49.  The demand for these still out weighs the supply. There were around 500 total made. A brief self serving word here. I have refinished 113 of these as of 2001. Thats over 20 percent of the production! That is alot of survivors and there are more out there.




These are from a 1940 catalog. It shows a Prototype V4
A Baby (V4) shown with extreme movements down and up.
A lens with at least an18 in image circle is needed.

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