American Optical Co., Scovill Mfg. Co., props.
New View Camera Box
Improved View Camera Box
Cone View Camera Box
Thos. H. McCollins Catalog, 1882, p. 14
4¼x5½ converted to 4x5"
American Optical Co. New York, NY factory
Date Introduced: June, 1873 ; Years
Construction: rear focus
via push-pull with fine focusing screw; single or
square plateholder 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;
Sizes Offered: 4¼x5½; 6½x8½; 8x10;10x12; 11x14; 14x17;
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
The above example was originally
the 4¼x5½" 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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