Anderson, J. A.
Probably the Anderson Compact Folding View
Anderson (November 1842 - September 17, 1911), not to be confused with the
Swedish John A. Anderson, photographer 1885-1900 of the Rosebud Indian
Reservation in Nebraska. He immigrated from Norway
to the United States in 1849, settling in Chicago in 1851. He founded J.
A. Anderson & Co. in 1870, manufacturing photographic apparatus. His son, Walter
E., took over the company by 1900.
From: Origin, Growth, and Usefulness of the Chicago Board of
Trade, Historical Publishing Co., 1885-6, page 282:
J. A. Anderson,
Manufacturer of Photographic Apparatus, Nos. 63 and 65 East Indiana Street.
- A prominent house in Chicago engaged in the
manufacture of all kinds of photographic necessaries and appliances is that of
Mr. J. A. Anders, Nos. 63 and 65 East Indiana Street. This business was
founded by the present proprietor in 1870, at No. 212 Illinois Street, and in
the following year the premises were destroyed by the great fire. Mr.
Anderson promptly recommenced business at his present location. The
premises are very commodious and are equipped with all the latest improved
machinery and appliances necessary for the systematic production of photographic
apparatus, employment being given to about forty highly skilled and experienced
operatives. The photographic supplies manufactured by Mr. Anderson are
unsurpassed for quality, ingenuity of construction, workmanship, and general
excellence, by those of any other first-class firm in this country or Europe,
and in consequence of their unsurpassed superiority their sale is annually
increasing. The system which prevails in the factory indicates the most
careful supervision, while the judgment and ability displayed in the manufacture
of the photographic apparatus indicate that Mr. Anderson is thoroughly
conversant with every detail of this scientific business, and fully acquainted
with the wants and requirements of the profession. His is a native of
Norway, but has resided in Chicago since 1851, and is greatly respected by the
community for his unswerving honor and integrity. The just manner in which
this business is conducted, as well as the superior quality and reliability of
the stock are guarantees sufficiently obvious why photographers requiring a
complete outfit in the trade would do well by giving their orders to this
Anderson & Co. manufactured the Mammoth Railroad Camera, which had a plate size of 4½x8
feet, and was the largest camera ever constructed at that time. The
company J. A. Anderson is not listed along with Jas. H. Smith, Burke & James and
other photographic suppliers in the December 15, 1901
Factory Inspectors of Illinois.
They appear to
have mostly manufactured their own design of cameras, such as
Anderson's New View Box, which appears to be a
model unique to Anderson. Likewise, their studio cameras, having a
configuration similar to many other manufacturers, have details that set them
apart from the other manufacturers (see
Anderson's Extra Quality
Portrait Camera and the
Success-like Studio Camera).
However, at least one studio view camera extant bears an Anderson metal plate on
its front standard and a Scovill Mfg. Co. stamp on the rails. The style of
this studio camera appears to be a common Scovill type, the most distinctive
feature being a deeply recessed front standard. So, at least in that one
case, it appears that Anderson also bought the camera from Scovill, slapped on
their own label, and re-sold it. Other studio view cameras marked Anderson
are of a different, perhaps their own, design/configuration, e.g.,
Anderson's Extra Quality
Portrait Camera and the
Success-like Studio Camera,
featured on this web site.
8 x 10
Date Introduced: ; Years
Manufactured: c.1870's - c.1880's
Construction: back focus via
push-pull with fine focus screw (part missing in photos); double swing; rising front; reversing by adjustable plateholder; three-piece lens
Materials: mahogany body, cherry base, brass hardware, black
Sizes Offered: at least 8x10
is a similar to a studio or portrait camera, but with a folding platform -
it is nearly as massive as most studio cameras. Its
square plateholder and ground glass allow an 8x10 plate to be inserted either
horizontally or vertically in the holder without moving the camera. The ground glass frame for this
camera is missing, but it appears as if it would have hinged downwards if
attached to the two brass plates provided at the bottom of the rear standard. The component wood is thicker
and therefore heavier and more massive than is the still massive
Anderson's New View Box.
The camera has
wet-plate chemical stains, leading to the presumption that this camera pre-dates
the Anderson's New View Box. The stamp reading "J.A. Anderson
Manfr Chicago" is the very same stamp as was used for Anderson's New
View Box, even to the slight tilt of the "R" in "Manfr".
If we had Anderson
catalogs or literature from the 1870's or early 1880's, we might find that it
simply Anderson's View Box., as befits
a predecessor of Anderson's New View Box.
However, the camera is very similar to
cameras manufactured by the largest manufacturers of the era: the
Scovill Mfg. Co. New Haven Compact View Camera,
E. & H.T. Anthony View and Portrait Boxes (20-27)
/ Compact Climax/Climax Camera.
Considering that both of these models feature the word Compact in their
model name, this camera may very well be called the Anderson Compact Folding View mentioned but not
described in one spot in photographic literature.
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