American Optical Co., Scovill & Adams Co., props.
Reversible Back View Camera Variation 1
Reversible Back View Camera
Back Focus Cone View Camera
Acme View Camera (W. D. Gatchel Catalog, 1888, p. 32)
6½ x 8½
American Optical Co. New York, NY factory
Date Introduced: - ; Years Manufactured:
Construction: back focus via
push-pull; single or double swing; reversing
by removable back; French polish finish
Materials: mahogany body; cherry base; black rubber bellows;
Sizes Offered: 4¼x5½; 6½x8½; 8x10; 10x12; 11x14; 14x17;
This simple, robust, back focus
camera with tapering (cone) bellows was popular both with professional
photographers as well as amateurs. It was referred to as one of a number
of names: Back Focus Cone View Camera, Acme View Camera,
Reversible Back View Camera, and similar.
There are three variations (variations in the spring
1) The Acme Reversible Back
View Camera Variation 1 is the camera as shown in the advertising,
including a ~2" thick removable, reversible back. To take a photograph,
the back's ground glass frame is slid out and replaced by the plate holder.
2) The Acme
Reversible Back View Camera Variation 2 also has a removable, reversible
back. But it has an interior ground glass frame that is released via a
lever. Presumably, the plate holder would then be inserted into the hole
vacated by the ground glass frame. This variation is assumed to be c.1885,
since this same back is pictured in 1885 advertising for the
American Optical Ripley.
3) The Acme
Reversible Back View Camera Variation 3, has yet a third variation of
removable, reversible back, which, in this case, has a complex spring that can
be set open, allowing the plate holder to be easily slid under it, then released
to tightly hold the plate holder in place. This type of back is seen in
high end American Optical cameras of the Scovill & Adams Co. era (1889-1901).
There is a fourth camera, which
could be considered a variation in the Acme spring back, except that it
was advertised after a gap in production, and was given the name:
Landscape View., which has a the simple, two spring, spring back
arrangement still used on cameras all through the 20th century.
The Landscape and the
Acme were never advertised at the same time, and, oddly, they were never
advertised in the same type of publication. Acme ads appear
c.1878 - c.1888 in Scovill and Scovill & Adams catalogs. They universally
use the engraving showing the thick profile (~2" thick) replaceable back
that is the Acme Variation 1.
The Landscape Camera ads appear c.1896 - c.1899 in the American Annual
of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac. They always show the
thinner and modern style (~¾" thick) replaceable back. Neither the Acme
nor the Landscape view cameras were advertised in the Scovill & Adams
1890, June 1890,
June 1891, and
January 1892 (but no
examples of catalogs from late 1892 through early 1895 have been observed as
yet) and the almanacs for 1892, 1893, 1894 and 1895. However, it is also entirely possible
that Acme-type cameras were still being manufactured 1892-1894, despite
the lack of visible advertising.
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.52
Catalog P, Photographic Material, J. W. Queen & Co. (Philadelphia, PA), 1886, p.
72 (As Reversible Back Cone View Camera)
Catalogue Illustrated, W.D. Gatchel (Louisville, KY), 1888, p. 32 (as
Reversible Back Acme View Box)
Stamps on rear base "The Scovill &
Adams Co. N.Y." and "17"
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