American Optical Co., or American Optical Co., Scovill Mfg. Co., props.
View Camera Boxes, Number 1 (Best) (Model No.'s 1-7)
A Descriptive Catalogue of the
American Optical Co.'s Photographic Apparatus (abridged), Scovill Mfg. Co.
(New York, NY), 1871, p.1
Asher & Adams Railroad Atlas, 1876
It has a stamp that indicates "1st Quality.
The platform appears to have been originally non-folding, then cut. The
camera, however, is clearly meant for portability, since this 11x14 format is
actually smaller in dimensions than many 8x10 studio cameras. Also, the
brass guides are more field camera-like than studio cameras, which generally
have thick, contoured platforms and no brass guides.
On the wood - a stamp
at the rear of both sides of the platform: "AM.
OPTICAL Co. / MANUFACTURER / NEW YORK", and another stamp next to
it: "1st QUALITY".
A stamp on the top
of the ground glass frame: "AM.
Approx. 18" F.L.
single achromat lens, engraved: "J.H. Walsl Baltimore". The
lens had a focusing rack and pinion, not shown."
American Optical Co. New York, NY factory
In their 1871 catalog, the American Optical Co. offered three very closely related models, all having non-tapering bellows (from least expensive to most expensive):
-1. Number 2 View Camera Boxes, Model No.'s 40-50 & No. 130: These are described as "good, well made, true and reliable, not so highly finished as the No. 1 goods, and without the patent brass guides. These had a folding platform, no swing, and no vertical sliding front; no mention of wood types - as simple a camera as would take a photograph.
-2. View Camera Boxes, Model No.'s 21-28: These had a folding platform, single or double swing, vertical sliding front, but not the patent brass guides and no mention of wood types.
-3. Number 1 View Camera Boxes, Model No.'s 1-7 (their best model): had solid or folding platform, patent (John Stock's patent Aug. 4, 1863) brass guides along the rails of the platform, a fine focusing screw, and made in mahogany or walnut finely finished using the French Polish method. In the example above, I am guessing that the patent brass guides referred to in the catalog are the brass plates on which this camera slides, which slide with more ease than the wood on wood sliding of models 21-28 and 40-50.
Later, American Optical introduced the Improved View Camera Boxes, which had tapering bellows, which allow the camera to be much more compactly folded.
An engraving was used for American Optical View Camera Boxes in 1871 , and re-used for the Model Stereo Camera Box in 1878 (lowermost engraving). It is therefore possible that the Model Stereo simply represents the wider, stereo version and the View Box the general version of the same type camera.
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