Scovill Mfg. Co.

Ne Plus Ultra Bicycle Camera
 

3x4


 

Manufacturer: Scovill Mfg. Co., New Haven, CT factory
Date Introduced:
- ; Years Manufactured: c.1885-1886
Construction: rear focus, vertical shifting front, folding bed, no swing; non-reversing
Materials: "imitation mahogany" wood (probably stained basswood), brass hardware
Sizes Offered: 3x4 only
Notes:

There are four models of view camera ever manufactured (other than the Midget Pocket, a combination view and box camera not included on this list of four) by American Optical, Scovill or Scovill & Adams.  All described as a bicycle camera or suitable for bicycling, except the Petite, which is for Vassar pupils (women), they were (in order of increasing price):
--the Ne Plus Ultra Bicyclist's Camera/Outfit (Outfit: camera, Waterbury lens, plate holder, bicycle attachment, canvas bag = $10.00),
--the Scovill's Pocket Bicycle Camera/Outfit (Outfit: camera,  with S.M.C. focusing lens, plate holder, bicycle attachment, = $12.00; apparently the canvas bag is not included in this outfit)
--the Petite Camera/Outfit ($12 camera & plate holder w/o lens, $17 same with tripod and canvas bag) and
--the Mignon Camera/Outfit (Outfit: camera, plate holder, bicycle attachment, canvas bag = $25.00 w/o lens; $50.00 with; $70.00 with Morrison lens)

Unfortunately, Scovill never saw fit to picture the Ne Plus Ultra Bicyclist's Camera/Outfit or the Mignon Camera. The Petite has a large engraving that can be matched to a camera.  Likewise, the Pocket Bicycle Camera, despite a very small engraving on top of a large wheel bicycle, can also be matched.  The identity of the Ne Plus Ultra Bicycle Camera and the Mignon Camera are based on price, assuming that the better made camera would be the expensive Mignon.

This camera above cannot be either the Pocket Bicycle Camera or the Petite Camera, as it doesn't match their engravings.  Of the two 3x4 offerings remaining, the inexpensive Ne Plus Ultra Bicyclist's Camera or the very expensive Mignon Camera, this example seems to be inexpensively made and therefore it is identified as the Ne Plus Ultra Bicyclist's Camera.  It has a Flammang patent rod & cylinder device to make the bed rigid, which was patented in 1886, so would have been made c.1886.

References:
Scovill's Photo. Series No. 1, he Photographic Amateur, 2nd Edition, J. Traill Taylor, Scovill Mfg. Co. pub. (New York, NY), 1883, 2nd Ed. about 1885, p. a17
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), distributed by Andrew J. Smith (Providence, RI), 1886, p. 40
Scovill's Photo. Series No. 12, Photographic Chemistry, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), 1886, p. a24
Scovill's Photo. Series No. 20, Dry Plate Making for Amateurs, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), 1886, p. a17
 

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