Scovill Mfg. Co.
American Optical Company

New View Camera Box
Improved View Camera Box
Cone View Camera Box


Thos. H. McCollin Catalog, 1882, p. 14
AOViewICat.jpg (59045 bytes)


4 ½x5 ½" wet-plate, converted to 4x5" dry plate

Label, Top of Front Standard: "American Optical Comp'y  New York,  Scovill Mfg. Co., Prop'trs"

Stamps on Platform Rails: 1) "John Stock's Patented Aug. 4, 1863", and 2) "Assigned to Am. Optical Co."



Manufacturer: American Optical Co. New York, NY factory
Date Introduced:
June, 1873 ; Years Manufactured: 1873-c.1882
Construction: rear focus via push-pull with fine focusing screw; single or double swing; square plate holder allows reversing by placement of plate either horizontally or vertically; three-piece lens board; brass track guides
Materials: mahogany body; cherry base; black fabric bellows; brass hardware
Sizes Offered: 4 ½x5 ½; 6 ½x8 ½; 8x10;10x12; 11x14; 14x17; 17x20; 20x24

     American Optical's View Camera Boxes had non-tapering bellows, while their Improved View Camera Boxes had tapering bellows, which allow the camera to be much more compactly folded.    

     The catalogs explain that this model is made two ways: 1) the back swings inside of body (as illustrated in the engraving and the photographed camera); 2) the back swings outside of body.  The Venus is an 8x10 version of this camera with extra accessories.

     The above example was originally the 4 ½x5 ½" format that is virtually unknown in dry plate cameras (starting about 1880), but it's original ground glass back was subsequently cleverly altered to have a spring-loaded 4x5 back.  Also, the camera has brass guides that are stamped "JOHN STOCK'S PATENTED AUG. 4, 1863  ASSIGNED TO AM. OPTICAL Co."  That patent substantially describes the layout of this camera.  John Stock was bought out by American Optical in 1866.  That the brass is stamped with a John Stock reference probably means that the camera dates more towards 1873 than to 1882.


Photographic Times 3, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), June, 1873, p. 83 (referred to as new)
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), distributed by Wilson, Hood & Co. Cat., 1873, p. 34
American Optical Catalog, 1878, p. 15-16
Illustrated Catalogue of General Photographic Supplies, Thos. H. McCollin (Philadelphia, PA), 1882, p. 14



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