American Optical Co., Scovill Mfg. Co., props.

 

Petite Camera


Scovill Dry Plate Making for Amateurs Catalog, 1886, p. 22

 

 

3 ¼ x 4 ¼
583.american.optical-petite-3x4a-1500.jpg
583.american.optical-petite-3x4c-750.jpg
583.american.optical-petite-3x4d-750.jpg583.american.optical-petite-3x4e-750.jpg

583.american.optical-petite-3x4f-gg.down-1500.jpg
583.american.optical-petite-3x4-bottom-1500.jpg

Label, metal (probably nickel-plated brass: "American Optical Comp'y - New York - Scovill Mfg. Co., Prop't'rs"
Below that, a stamp near the top of the lens board, but partially covered by the lens flange: "Amer. Optical Co. - Scovill Mfg. Co., N.Y."
583.american.optical-petite-3x4-label.metal.near.top.of.front.std,&.stamp.near.top.of.lens.board-1500.jpg

At the rear end of the platform - two stamps: 1) "10", a serial number or an assembly number, and 2) "Amer. Optical Co. - Scovill Mfg. Co., N.Y.", the same stamp that is on the lens board.
583.american.optical-petite-3x4-stamps(2).assemb.no.10.left.side.rear.of.platform.&.am.opt.right.side.rear.of.platform-1500.jpg

With the ground glass frame down, a "10" is near the top of the rear standard
583.american.optical-petite-3x4-stamp.near.top.of.rear.std.under.gg.frame-1500.jpg

With the ground glass frame up, another stamp of "Amer. Optical Co. - Scovill Mfg. Co., N.Y."
583.american.optical-petite-3x4-stamp.near.top.of.gg.frame-1500.jpg

 

 

Another Example
3 ¼ x 4 ¼
947.american.optical-petite-3x4a-w.stops&stop.case-1500.jpg
947.american.optical-petite-3x4a-cam.only.left.side-1500.jpg
947.american.optical-petite-3x4b-750.jpg947.american.optical-petite-3x4c-750.jpg
947.american.optical-petite-3x4d-750.jpg947.american.optical-petite-3x4e-750.jpg

947.american.optical-petite-3x4f-gg.down-1500.jpg

Stamp on the top of the ground glass frame: "Amer. Optical Co., Scovill Mfg. Co., N.Y."
947.american.optical-petite-3x4-stamp.amer.opt.top.of.gg.frame-1500.jpg

Near Lever:  stamp, large digit "2", assembly number on platform of rear standard.
Bottom: stamps at the end of the platform: "Amer. Optical Co., Scovill Mfg. Co., N.Y.", and another "2" assembly number.
947.american.optical-petite-3x4-stamps.back.of.camera-1500.jpg

 

 

 

Manufacturer: American Optical Co. New York, NY factory
Date Introduced:
- ; Years Manufactured: c.1885-1894
Construction: back focus via push-pull; single swing; reversing by two tripod mounts; 
Materials: mahogany body; folding cherry base; black fabric bellows; brass hardware
Sizes Offered: 3 ¼x4 ¼
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.

Scovill catalogs do not indicate whether The Petite Camera was made by Scovill (New Haven factory, formerly the Samuel Peck factory) or American Optical (New York City factory).  However, the one example examined is made of dark mahogany on dark, stained cherry wood, all French polished, Ni-plated brass hardware, and the screw slots are aligned in one direction (either horizontal or vertical), characteristics which I associate with American Optical materials and workmanship. This conclusion is confirmed since the camera is also stamped: "Amer. Optical Co., Scovill Mfg. Co., N.Y." on the top of the ground glass frame, and on the rear of the platform.  The example camera nearly matches the catalog engravings, even down to the projecting tripod mount on the side, but they differ in one way.  The engraving has an L-shaped hardware all on the front, while the example camera has hardware that wraps around the side.  The references state that the #2 1888 Instantaneous Outfit was a Petite Camera, with shutter and case.

 

References:
Scovill's Photo. Series No. 1, The Photographic Amateur, 2nd Edition, J. Traill Taylor, Scovill Mfg. Co. pub. (New York, NY), 1883, 2nd Ed. about 1885, p. a23
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), distributed by Andrew J. Smith (Providence, RI), 1886, p. 50
Scovill's Photo. Series No. 12, Photographic Chemistry, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), 1886, p. a31
Scovill's Photo. Series No. 20, Dry Plate Making for Amateurs, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), 1886, p. a23
How to Make Pictures, 4th edition, Henry Clay Price, Scovill Mfg. Co., publishers (New York, NY), dated 1887, copyright 1886, p. a23
Photographic Lenses and How to Select Them, James W. Queen & Co. (Philadelphia, PA), 1887, p. 27
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), distributed by C.H. Codman & Co. (Boston, MA), April 1887, p. 47
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), undated but about January 1888, p 51
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), distributed by C.H. Codman & Co. (Boston, MA), September 1888, p. 41
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), distributed by Buchanan, Bromley & Co. (Philadelphia, PA) Catalog, 1888
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), January 1889, p. 39
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), distributed by Buchanan, Bromley & Co. (Philadelphia, PA) Catalog, 1889
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), distributed by Oscar Foss (San Francisco, CA), June 1890, p. 46
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), distributed by Sargent & Co. (Cleveland, OH), April 1891, p. 12
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), distributed by Horgan, Robey & Co. (Boston, MA), June 1891, p. 14
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, The Scovill and Adams Co. (New York, NY), January 1892, p. 14
American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1893, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), 1892, ads p. 86
The American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1894, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), 1893, p. 125

 

 

 

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