American Optical Co.
5x7" size and 4x5" size
American Optical Co. New York, NY factory
This is a camera similar to the Tourist Pocket Camera, in that it has horizontal metal rods. It is stated in Scovill catalogs that "it embodies many of the advantages of Scovill's Old Tourist Camera, with much that is new and improved". The Tourist Pocket Camera was advertised in Scovill catalogs through a ~January 1888 catalog (How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), undated but about January 1888, p. 32), and the first appearance of The Flandreau seen in the September 1888 catalog (How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), distributed by C.H. Codman & Co. (Boston, MA), September 1888, p. 21). That production stopped on the Tourist Pocket Camera exactly when production started on The Flandreau indicates that Scovill really did consider The Flandreau to be the improved model of the Tourist Pocket. In all probability, the factory workers responsible for constructing the Tourist Pocket Camera just switched over to construction of The Flandreau at some point in 1888.
Catalogs never contain an engraving of the model, and the camera above is only stamped with the classic "American Optical Co., Scovill Mfg. Co. Prop.". That it is indeed a Flandreau is deduced from the written description of the rods ("The rods which are used to move forward the front of the camera..."), tapering bellows ("The bellows is cone shaped..."), the front focus ("...focuses by forward movement", the configuration of the ground glass frame ("The ground glass is hinged, as in English cameras, to throw over the top of the instrument..." and the manner of folding ("When closed for carrying, the bed becomes a closing front board...".
The rods do not serve to extend the draw, but rather appear to merely be a way to push the front standard out from the back and lock it in place. When folded, the rods become a troublesome appendage next to the ground glass. The function of the large threaded piece at the end of the rod assembly is not apparent. Were the rods to be pushed entirely in (the bellows fully extended), a locking mechanism would keep them in place. This is not recommended, however, since the front standard (which is quite thin at one point) has previously been broken by such an attempt, and, besides, the current lens is in focus as shown. By late 1896, the Flandreau was consigned to the "Bargain Page" of the American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1897 (page lxi), which probably indicates an attempt to get rid of discontinued stock.
Flandreau may have been the surname of a worker/inventor at Scovill Mfg. Co. There are advertisements for Flandreau's S.P.C. Hypo Eliminator, which prevents fading of photographic prints due to fixer having remained in them after washing.
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