American Optical Co., Scovill & Adams Co., props.
Reversible Back View Camera Variation 3
14 x 17
American Optical Co. New York, NY factory
Date Introduced: ; Years
Construction: rear focus
via push-pull; single or double swing; reversing by removable back;
three-piece lens board
Materials: mahogany body; cherry base; black fabric bellows;
Sizes Offered: at least 14x17
This simple, robust, back focus
camera with tapering (cone) bellows was popular both with professional
photographers as well as amateurs. It was referred to as one of a number
of names: Back Focus Cone View Camera, Acme View Camera,
Reversible Back View Camera, and similar.
There are three variations (variations in the spring
1) The Acme
Reversible Back View Camera Variation 1 is the camera as shown in the
advertising, including a ~2" thick removable, reversible back. To take a
photograph, the back's ground glass frame is slid out and replaced by the plate
2) The Acme Reversible Back
View Camera Variation 2 also has a removable, reversible back. But
it has an interior ground glass frame that is released via a lever.
Presumably, the plate holder would then be inserted into the hole vacated by the
ground glass frame. This variation is assumed to be c.1885, since this
same back is pictured in 1885 advertising for the
American Optical Ripley. Camera.
3) The Acme Reversible Back
View Camera Variation 3, has yet a third variation of removable,
reversible back, which, in this case, has a complex spring that can be set open,
allowing the plate holder to be easily slid under it, then released to tightly
hold the plate holder in place. This type of back is seen in high end
American Optical cameras of the Scovill & Adams Co. era (1889-1901).
There is a fourth camera, which
could be considered a variation in the Acme spring back, except that it
was advertised after a gap in production, and was given the name:
4) The Landscape View.,
which has a the simple, two spring, spring back arrangement still used on
cameras all through the 20th century.
The Landscape and the
Acme were never advertised at the same time, and, oddly, they were never
advertised in the same type of publication. Acme ads appear
c.1878 - c.1888 in Scovill and Scovill & Adams catalogs. They universally
use the engraving showing the thick profile (~2" thick) replaceable back
that is the Acme Variation 1.
The Landscape Camera ads appear c.1896 - c.1899 in the American Annual
of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac. They always show the
thinner and modern style (~¾" thick) replaceable back. Neither the Acme
nor the Landscape view cameras were advertised in the Scovill & Adams
1890, June 1890,
June 1891, and
January 1892 (but no
examples of catalogs from late 1892 through early 1895 have been observed as
yet) and the almanacs for 1892, 1893, 1894 and 1895. However, it is also entirely possible
that Acme-type cameras were still being manufactured 1892-1894, despite
the lack of visible advertising.
1895: not in 1895 literature until late 1895, below
American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1896,
The Scovill & Adams Co., 1895, ads p.
("a new camera)
American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1897,
The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), 1896, ads p.
(still "a new camera")
American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1898,
The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), 1897, ads p.
70 (still "a new camera")
American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1899,
The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), 1898, ads p.
(still "a new camera")
George Murphy (New York, NY) Catalog, April 1898, p. 20 (as the Eagle Reversible Back
American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1900,
The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), 1899, ads p.
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