American Optical Co.

Flandreau Camera

 

5x7" size and 4x5" size

 

 

4x5

americanopticalflandreau5x5b356.jpg (23172 bytes)americanopticalflandreau5x5c356.jpg (21762 bytes)
americanopticalflandreau5x5d356.jpg (22915 bytes)americanopticalflandreau5x5e356.jpg (17937 bytes)

 

5x7

americanopticalflandreau5x5b356.jpg (23172 bytes)americanopticalflandreau5x5c356.jpg (21762 bytes)
americanopticalflandreau5x5d356.jpg (22915 bytes)americanopticalflandreau5x5e356.jpg (17937 bytes)
americanopticalflandreau5x5d356.jpg (22915 bytes)americanopticalflandreau5x5e356.jpg (17937 bytes)
The ground glass frame is missing on this 5x7 example.
 

 

Manufacturer: American Optical Co. New York, NY factory
Date Introduced:
- ; Years Manufactured: c.1888-1896
Construction: front focus via push-pull of the nickeled rods from behind; single swing; reversing; three-piece lens board
Materials: mahogany body; metal base rods; red leather bellows; brass and nickeled brass hardware
Sizes Offered: 4x5; 5x7.
Notes:

     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.

References:
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
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), distributed by Buchanan, Bromley & Co. (Philadelphia, PA) Catalog, 1888
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), January 1889, p. 20
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), distributed by Buchanan, Bromley & Co. (Philadelphia, PA) Catalog, 1889
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), distributed by Oscar Foss (San Francisco, CA), June 1890, p. 22
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), distributed by Sargent & Co. (Cleveland, OH), April 1891, p. 10
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), distributed by Horgan, Robey & Co. (Boston, MA), June 1891, p. 12
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, The Scovill and Adams Co. (New York, NY), January 1892, p. 11
American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1893, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), 1892, ads p. 145
The American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1894, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), 1893, p. 96
How to Make Photographs and a Descriptive Catalogue of Photographic Materials Illustrated, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), 1896, p. 30
American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1897, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), 1896, ads p. 61 ("Bargain Page")
American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1898, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), 1897, ads p. 115 ("Bargain Page")
 


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