American Optical Co., Scovill Mfg. Co., props.

American Optical Acme (Unknown Rear Focus Cone Bellows Camera)

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Date Introduced: - ; Years Manufactured: c. 1885
Construction: rear focus via push-pull; double swing; reversing by removable back; three-piece lens board
Materials: mahogany body; cherry base; black fabric bellows; brass hardware
Sizes Offered: at least 8x10

     This camera 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.  The  Landscape 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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