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

Philadelphia Stereoscopic Box

Descriptive Catalogue and Price List of the Photographic Apparatus Manufactured by the American Optical Co., Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), Sept. 1884, p.57
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5x8, with lens boards for single lens and stereo photography

Label on the front standard: "American Optical Comp'y  New York  Scovill Mfg. Co. Prop'itrs

Stamps on rear base rail: "Am Optical Co.  Manufacturer  New York", along with the assembly number stamp: "12"

Stamps on brass rails: "John Stock's  Patented  Aug. 4, 1863" and "Assigned to Am. Optical Co."



Manufacturer: American Optical Co. New York, NY factory
Date Introduced:
1870 ; Years Manufactured: 1870 - c.1887
Construction: rear focus via push-pull with fine focusing screw; single swing; reversing by two tripod mounts; three-piece lens board
Materials: mahogany body; cherry base; black fabric bellows; brass hardware
Sizes Offered: 4x7; 4x8; 5x8

     The Philadelphia Stereoscopic Box is the same as the New Philadelphia Stereoscopic Box (Philadelphia Stereoscopic Box, Improved), except for the swing configuration. The rear of this camera supposedly swings outside of the main box, while the New version swings inside. However, American Optical did not help the confusion by using the same engraving for both cameras.  The above engraving appears to be the version that swings outside the main box (for an example of a swing inside of the main box, see American Optical New View Camera Box.  The design apparently originated with Samuel Peck & Co. (see Samuel Peck Stereo View Camera), who manufactured a camera identical to this 1855-1860, then entered into a business arrangement with Scovill in 1857.  The photographed camera contains a replacement septum (the view separator inside the bellows).  As with many cameras of this vintage, a single lens version was available, even if not advertised.  The camera illustrated below is the 5x8 format with a single lens. It has no rise and fall, whereas the engraving shows rise and fall ability, and may therefore be an earlier version.

     Apparently, the same design camera was available in less finely finished, less expensive wood version, the New Haven Stereoscopic Camera, which was made (or continued to have been made) in the old Samuel Peck factory, which was in New Haven, CT.  The New Haven prefix was given all cameras originating there until about 1886, after which Scovill advertising is not so clear as to which of their two factories a given camera was produced.

Philadelphia Photographer, April, 1870, p. 100 (introduced)
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), distributed by Wilson, Hood & Co. (Philadelphia, PA) Catalog, 1873, p. 34
American Optical Catalog, 1878, p. 12-13
Illustrated Catalogue of General Photographic Supplies, Thos. H. McCollin (Philadelphia, PA), 1882
Descriptive Catalogue and Price List of the Photographic Apparatus Manufactured by the American Optical Co., Scovill Mfg. Co., proprietors and managers (New York, NY), Sept. 1884, p.57

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