A 4×5 large-format camera that was once part of Ansel Adams’ gear collection is expected to fetch between $70,000 and $100,000 at an auction later this month. The Arca-Swiss is the only view-style camera of the famous landscape photographer to ever come to an auction.
Adams shot with the camera between 1964 and 1968 before giving the camera to his assistant, Liliane de Cock Morgan, who later on went to have a successful photography career herself — she earned a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1972 and was described by New York Magazine as one of the most important female photographers in 1996. She continued to use the camera throughout her career until her death in 2013. The camera is still owned by Morgan’s family, though this is the second time the family has scheduled an auction.
The auction includes the 4×5 Arca-Swiss monorail camera along with three lenses, a Wollensak Raptar f/6.8, a Ross Express f/4 and a 203mm Kodak Ektar f/7.7. The kit also includes extra bag bellows, Graflex film pack adapters, step up rings, Wratten gelatin filters, a Kodak No. 12 VII glass filter, a Magestic tripod, a carrying case and that characteristic dark cloth.
The kit is up for sale from Heritage Auctions, as well as several signed prints by Adams like New Mexica, Moonrise, and Hernandez. The camera kit’s opening bid is set at $30,000, though it’s expected to fetch more than twice that.
Adams mentioned the camera in his book The Making of 40 Photographs, discussing the image he shot of the arches at the Mission San Xavier del Bac in Arizona in 1968. “I have many negatives of this portion of the mission,” Adams wrote, “… the one I consider most successful was accomplished in 1968 with a 4×5 Arca-Swiss view camera.”
The auction is set scheduled for October 27 in New York.