American Optical Co., Scovill Mfg. Co., props.
Acme (Unknown Rear Focus Cone Bellows Camera)
Date Introduced: - ; Years
Manufactured: c. 1885
Construction: rear focus
via push-pull; double swing; reversing by removable back; three-piece
Materials: mahogany body; cherry base; black fabric bellows;
Sizes Offered: at least 8x10
model has not yet been found in
advertisements. The camera name "American Optical
Acme (Unknown Rear Focus Cone Bellows Camera)"
has been made up to describe it. This is one of
those pairs of American Optical and Scovill cameras that are almost identical in
design, yet only one of them is advertised (See discussion on
American Optical or Scovill
thumbnail index page). The illustrated camera is
similar to the Scovill Acme, only better
finished in the usual American Optical manner. It has the typical American
Optical, Scovill Mfg. Co. props. silver plated label, and is also stamped American
Optical on the lens board and the base. It is therefore
very clearly an American Optical product, yet an apparently was not advertised,
whereas its counterpart, the Scovill Acme, appeared in much advertising
and all catalogs during its run.
A simple thumbscrew makes the bed rigid, so
it probably pre-dates the 10-20-85 rod and cylinder patent. The back is reversible and held
by two dowel pins at the bottom and two brass clips at the top. In turn, the ground
glass frame is also removable, held into the reversible back by two dowel pins at the bottom and a single
spring-loaded pin at the top. To expose a plate, the ground glass frame must be
removed and replaced by a holder having the correct two holes at the bottom and a brass
plate with a hole at the top. This back design is identical to that
shown in 1885
vintage engravings of the Ripley Camera,
although this camera is not advertised in the same catalog as the Ripley.
Camera has a similar-appearing back, but was introduced in 1895, and has the later improvements of the rod and cylinder
bed device and a spring back. The small brass lever at the rear of the camera releases the
entire rear of the camera from the track for swing.
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