Seneca Camera Manufacturing Company, Rochester, New York, for
Montgomery Ward & Company, Chicago, Illinois 1904 - 1906
Equipped with a Wollensak Junior Shutter, this Majestic 4x5 camera was made for Montgomery Ward by the Seneca Camera Mfg. Company. Other than the nameplate, the camera is identical to the Seneca No. 1. Seneca would later manufacture cameras for Sears, Roebuck & Company under the Seroco brand name.
With red bellows and a polished mahogany wood bed, this is one of the earlier examples of Seneca's Majestic/Seneca No.1. The camera has "PAT. APL'D FOR" stamped on the lens standard's base. This was in reference to Patent No. 770,220, filed February 4, 1904 that would be granted to Frank B. Case of Rochester, New York on September 13, 1904. Assigned to the Seneca Camera Company, the patent covered the lens standard's push button clamp design. The years 1901-1906 could be called Seneca's "wood and brass" period. Reflecting some of the company's most beautiful work during this time, cameras were finished in polished mahogany with red bellows and brass fittings. By 1907, Seneca's self-casing cameras had transitioned to black Russia bellows and ebony-finished mahogany beds. Having a Wollensak-badged shutter, rather than a Rauber & Wollensak, places the camera no earlier than 1901 when the company's name changed to Wollensak Optical Company.
Despite being marketed by one of the biggest retailers of the time, relatively few Majestics were badged (or sold) as compared to the Seneca No. 1. This is evidenced by their scarcity today. And today as a general rule, Seneca cameras are more frequently encountered with black bellows, ebony finishes and nickel-plated hardware.
Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office