Rochester Optical Division, Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester, New York 1902-1908
Introduced in 1902 by the Rochester Optical Company, and later manufactured by the Rochester Optical Division of Eastman Kodak, the Premo Supreme was equipped with Bausch & Lomb's Iconoscope finder and a focal-plane shutter in addition to its conventional shutter. Factory catalogs hailed it as the "supreme triumph of Premo construction", with a rising and falling front, swing back and a triple-extension falling bed. All of these features were actuated by rack and pinion and were capable of being locked at any setting.
Aside from Folmer & Schwing's Graflex introduced in 1898 and a handful of other reflex-style cameras, focal-plane shutters were not seen on the typical self-casing plate camera of the era. Configured as such, the Premo Supreme was a step up from the Premo No. 7 and is beautifully finished with engine-turned nickel-plated hardware.
Rochester Optical Division's 1908 Premo Cameras catalog stated that "the Premo Supreme stands without competition the finest and most efficient hand camera ever manufactured". The Zeiss Protar lens, as equipped on this example, was not offered until 1905. When paired with the Protar and the Volute Shutter, the Premo Supreme was the most expensive 4x5 in the Premo line-up for 1908, its last year of production. Early versions of the camera were covered in genuine seal leather and equipped with a Thornton-Pickard Focal Plane Shutter. This example is equipped with a later style automatic focal-plane shutter having improved features. By 1908, red bellows had been replaced by black.
The Premo Supreme is very scarce today, owing to its high price which resulted in scant sales and low production.