Scovill Mfg. Co., Waterbury, CT & New Haven, CT

 

Waterbury View Camera, Variation 2

 

American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1890, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), ads p. 69

6 ½ x 8 ½
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8 x 10"

scovill&adamswaterbury6x8c349.jpg (24045 bytes)
scovill&adamswaterbury6x8d349.jpg (23968 bytes)scovill&adamswaterbury6x8e349.jpg (20608 bytes)

 

Three sizes: Variation 2 6 ½ x 8 ½"; Variation 1 5 x 8"; and Variation 1 4 x 5"
scovillwaterburysthreea.jpg (41576 bytes)

 

Manufacturer: Scovill Mfg. Co., New Haven, CT factory
Date Introduced:
1885 ; Years Manufactured: Variation 2: c. 1885-~1896 (1898?)
Construction: back focus via push-pull; single swing via side thumbscrew; reversing by two tripod mounts
Materials: mahogany body; cherry base; black fabric bellows; brass hardware
Sizes Offered: 4x5 (1886); 4¼x5½ (late1886 through 1896) ; 4¼x6½ (late1886 through 1896); 5x7 (late1886 through 1896); 5x8 (original size, 1885); 6½ x8½ (1886 through 1893); 8x10 (never advertised, but extant).

Notes:

     The Waterbury View Camera, named for the Waterbury, CT location of one of Scovill's factories, is one of the most common Scovill view cameras.  There are also Waterbury Detective Cameras and Waterbury lenses.

     The Waterbury View Camera in any of its five variations is basically a Scovill or American Optical model view camera that has push-pull rear focus, non-tapering bellows and made from a wood that usually is mahogany.  Specific characteristics of the model and of variations are given below .  A table of characteristics for each example of a Waterbury variation examined is given below. 

scovill&adamswaterbury6x8b349.jpg (24003 bytes)

Construction Common to All Waterbury Variations: 
(the letters above reference camera parts in the image to the right)
1)  It is back focus only , and has non-tapering bellows, which results in the front standard being approximately the same size as the rear standard.
2)  The front standard: is a box-jointed square (A), mounted on a ~1/4 bottom plate (B), the whole screwed to the front of the main platform (C); a ~1/4" thick facing (D) holds the rise mechanism and the lens board.
  On the bottom of the front standard, there is a quarter-round trim linking the vertical standard to the horizontal platform.  The front standard adjusts up or down, held in place by a male knurled thumbscrew.
3)  The rear standard: is a box-jointed square (E), which is not as tall as the front standard square, mounted to one or sometimes two brass side plates (F) (the shape of which mainly determine Variation 1 or Variation 2), which connect the rear standard to a ~3/8-1/2" sliding platform (G).  The sliding platform runs along the  grooved middle of the main platform, and is secured by a female knurled thumbscrew.
4)  The folding platform or bed is hinged, and made rigid by either a T-shaped thumbscrew (pre-1886) or a rod and piston device (patented by Mathias Flammang Oct. 20, 1885).
5)  The bellows are fabric coated with a black rubberized paint.
6)  The ground glass frame hinges down, and is latched up using a spring-loaded clip which has the same shape and design for all variations.
7)  The Scovill lens board is three piece.  The standard lens was a Waterbury single achromat - early on, it was the  insertable stop Waterbury Lens Variation 1, later replaced by a the rotating stop Waterbury Lens Variation 2.  However, the lens boards and lenses of view cameras such as the Waterbury were hardly permanent, and it is common to find a camera with a replacement lens board and/or a different lens, even one made by a competitor.

The above shared physical characteristics make all Waterbury View Cameras and also what I call Waterbury-type View Cameras look alike.  Variations are defined by the species of wood used and type of wood finish, the appearance of the brass finish, minor differences in ground glass frame hinging, and, rarely, a larger size.  The distinguishing characteristics are summarized in the table below.

Scovill-Type Waterbury Variations:
     The vast majority of Waterbury Cameras have the following features in common:
1) The wood is naturally light in color, but nevertheless appears to be a type of mahogany, although it also bears a resemblance to straight-sawn sycamore.
2) The wood is finished without filling the wood pores, using one coat of clear shellac.  The shellac appears to have been applied to the folding platform while assembled - over-brushed shellac has protected the edges of the patent rod and piston device from oxidation.  Starting with the 1887 catalog, Scovill advertised "mahogany well polished" instead of just "mahogany".  It is unknown exactly why this distinction was made - marketing?  or was there a change to French polish instead of brushed finish?  It is possible that that some of the cameras that I call American Optical Waterbury Type cameras were actually made in the Scovill factory (obviously these would have to be the ones not marked "American Optical") using the same kind of wood and finishing process used by the American Optical factory?
3) The hardware is brass, generally unworked and unfinished except where shellac has been over-brushed, as above.
4) No effort was made in lining up screw slots during assembly.
5) They bear a stamp reading "Scovill Mfg. Co., N.Y." or "The Scovill & Adams Co., N.Y."
6) They all have a stamped serial number, many of which are in the hundreds range.  Usually, stamped numbers on cameras of this era are single digits, rarely two digits, and, obviously represent assembly numbers - numbers used to distinguish the parts of a small number of cameras that are being manufactured in a batch process where parts are almost, but not quite interchangeable, and therefore have to be kept track of.  In the case of Waterburys, their numbers in the hundreds probably represent actual consecutive serial numbers, as it is unlikely that batches of hundreds of cameras, requiring assembly numbers in the hundreds, were ever made.
Since the
Waterbury model was always advertised as the "Scovill Waterbury", it is assumed that these Waterburys were manufactured in the Scovill camera factory in New Haven, CT, the former Samuel Peck camera factory, and are categorized here as Scovill Waterbury Variation 1, Scovill Waterbury Variation 1A, and Scovill Waterbury Variation 2, according to minor variations in construction.

Scovill Waterbury View Camera Variation 1A: 
    
The Waterbury View Camera Variation 1A has construction and hardware that are identical to Variation 1 - it is thought to be merely the earliest version of Variation 1, due to the three following features: 
1)   The wood forming the box-jointed sections of the front and rear standards is quarter-sawn sycamore, as Scovill also used in two other early models: Unknown View Camera and the New York View Camera.  The face of the front standard appears to be the same as used in Variation 1 Waterburys, said in Scovill's catalogs 1887 and after to be mahogany (albeit a very light-colored mahogany).
2)  The wood near Scovill's piston-type device to make the bed rigid is stamped with the single word: "Patented", suggesting that the patent had been applied for but yet to be granted.  Waterbury View Camera Variation 1 and Waterbury View Camera Variation 2 have the exact patent date stamped into the metal of the device itself.  Variation 1A would therefore appear to have been manufactured sometime after the patent, but before the metal stamps were received.
3)  The wooden case in which the camera came is typical Scovill spline-joint construction, so has probably been with the camera since its manufacture.  The clasp that fastens the top is an bulky early style that can also be found on a plate-holding box marked "Sam'l Peck & Co." from the 1850's or 1860's.  This fancy-wood version of the Waterbury may be an example of a 1885-1886 Waterbury, made before the change was made to mahogany.

Scovill Waterbury View Camera Variation 1
     The Waterbury View Camera Variation 1 (as well as Variation 1A) has a scalloped-edged metal flanges on either side of the rear standard that allow it to tilt front-to-back.  This distinguishes it from the Waterbury View Camera Variation 2
The wood, other than the cherry platform wood, is said by Scovill catalogs to be mahogany starting in 1887.  It is a strange, very light-colored, mahogany that others have called sycamore (which it resembles) and even oak.  Its pores have been left unfilled, then given what appears to be a single coat of clear shellac, leaving the pores slightly sunken.

Scovill Waterbury View Camera Variation 2: 
    
This is the most common variant of The Waterbury View Camera.  It has a somewhat square-shaped metal flange for tilting the rear standard, which distinguishes it from the Waterbury Variation 1.  This tilting control flange is only on the right side, and only fastens the tilted rear standard - the tilting itself is performed by hinges and a small wooden wedge visible on the left side.  This arrangement was undoubtedly an improvement over Variation 1, which tends to become difficult to tighten reliably as the screws that hold the flanges loosen.  Even though there are quite a few extant Variation 1 cameras, all the engravings in Scovill catalogs appear to be of Variation 2, even back to the first catalog to advertise it in 1885.  This begs the question of just when, exactly, were the Variation 1 and Variation 2 made?
Like the Waterbury View Camera Variation 1, the Waterbury View Camera Variation 2 is made from a very light-colored mahogany (except for the cherry platform), finished with a thin coat of clear shellac.

 

American Optical-Type Waterbury Variations:
     There exist Waterbury-design cameras that do not have the Scovill characteristics listed above.  These cameras may differ from the above Waterbury cameras in two ways:
1)  The first, most obvious, reason is that some (but not all)
Waterbury design cameras are marked with an "American Optical, Scovill Mfg. Co., Props." stamp in their wood.  I assume, as in the "Scovill"-stamped cameras above, that the stamp is indicative of the factory in which it was made, in this case, the American Optical factory in New York City.  It is problematical that some of the cameras having all appearances of having been made in the American Optical factory are not marked as such, instead being marked "Scovill Mfg. Co., N.Y."  It is possible that some of the cameras that look like typical American Optical cameras were made in the New Haven Scovill factory, assuming that the Scovill factory received the same wood as used in the American Optical factory, and the workers also received the same training in French polish and draw-file finishing as their New York City counterparts.  However, it is unlikely that cameras produced in two different factories would be indistinguishable other than their stamped identification.  It is more likely that Scovill was not vary concerned whether cameras were identified and stamped as American Optical or Scovill.  Their catalogs certainly are not very clear as to which cameras are American Optical and which are Scovill.  For some models, catalogs identify the maker (factory), in the June 1891 Scovill catalog, for example: "The American Optical Star View Camera" on p.19 or "The Scovill Manifold Camera" on p.23.  Other models, known to be American Optical due to their labels, occur adjacent to other identified American Optical models, as if in an American Optical section of the catalog, in the same June 1891 catalog, for example, The (Flammang) Revolving Back Cameras on pp.20-21 are American Optical products placed immediately after the American Optical Star View Camera.  Unfortunately, catalogs appear to shift back and forth from Scovill to American Optical products.  Most unfortunately, neither the catalog notation nor the catalog position are clear about where the Waterbury was made.
2)  The second reason, more subtle but nonetheless convincing, is the physical properties/appearance of the camera.  Scovill advertised certain models as having been specifically manufactured by American Optical, such as Flammang Revolving Back Cameras (both Rear Focus and Front Focus), The Irving Camera, The Reversible Landscape Camera, The "76" or Centennial Camera (and No.s 202-204), Reversible Back Camera (Front Focus (St. Louis) and Back Focus (Acme)), The Tourist Pocket Outfit, and Walmsey's Photomicrographic Camera.  The examination of these models shows the following characteristics in common: 
     - The wood is naturally dark mahogany or dark stained mahogany and dark stained cherry.  At a glance, this wood is distinguished from the light-colored mahogany of the Scovill Waterburys.
     - The wood is finished by the process of French polishing: continuing layers of shellac to fill pores followed by a final buffing to produce a mirror smooth surface.
     - The hardware is nickel-plated or brass finished in what is called a draw-file finish, producing fine, parallel lines.
     - Usually, the screws are lined-up on a side or surface so that their slots are parallel; subsequent draw filing makes the screws in the same plane as the hardware that they secure, and makes them almost invisible.
Since some Waterbury cameras share their physical characteristics with cameras advertised to have been manufactured in the American Optical factory in New York City, NY, these Waterburys are presumed to have also been manufactured in the American Optical factory, and are referred to here as the
American Optical Waterbury Variation 1 and the American Optical Waterbury Variation 2

American Optical Waterbury-Type View Camera Variation 1: 
    
The hinges on the ground glass frame are on the bottom of the frame in Variation 1 and on the sides in Variation 2.  Variation 2 seems to be very rare, relative to Variation 1 Waterbury-Type View Camera Variation 1 has a ground glass frame over 1" wide, whereas all other Waterbury variations have frames about ⅝" wide.  This makes Waterbury-Type View Camera Variation 1 significantly larger than the other variations.  The two examples seen so far have an identical mixture of stamps: Scovill Mfg. Co., N.Y. on the lens board and on the ground glass frame, and American Optical Co., Scovill Mfg. Co., N.Y. on the rear of the platform.  A comparison of the sizes is shown just below the table.  A Waterbury having side hinges is never shown in Scovill catalogs or other ads.
     This discrepancy in size between those cameras thought to have been made in the American Optical factory and those cameras thought to have been made in the Scovill New Haven factory is similar to the discrepancy found for the variations of The 76 Camera (see The 76 Camera Variation 1 for comparison photos).  The difference in construction may be due to Scovill not precisely duplicating the tools and jigs used to make the camera in one factory vs. the other.  The company may have merely left the details of construction to the tool- or camera-makers from each location.  It is not that Scovill cameras are always larger than American Optical cameras; in The 76 Camera example just mentioned, The 76 Camera Variations 1 and 2 (American Optical versions) are smaller than The 76 Camera Variation 3 (Scovill Version).

American Optical Waterbury-Type View Camera Variation 2: 
    
The hinges on the ground glass frame are on the bottom of the frame in Variation 1 and on the sides in Variation 2Variation 2 seems to be very rare, relative to Variation 1.

 



Comparison of Construction Features Used to Determine Scovill Waterbury and American Optical Waterbury-Type Variations

Scovill Waterbury & American Optical Waterbury-type Camera Characteristics

     

Number

Format

Marked

 

Type

Serial No.

GG Frame width1

Wood Finish

GG Hinge

Hardware Finish

Swing Hardware
No./Style

No. of Rod & Piston

Frame/Solid Rear Deck

LP1075

5x8

Scovill Mfg.

Wat Var 1A

323

0.61

Qtr.-Sawn Sycamore

Shellac

Bottom

Plain

2/scalloped

1

Frame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LP0006

4x5

Scovill Mfg.

Wat Var 1

393

0.60

Light Mahogany

Shellac

Bottom

Plain

2/scalloped

1

Solid

LP0071

5x8

Scovill Mfg.

Wat Var 1

688

0.62

Light Mahogany

Shellac

Bottom

Plain

2/scalloped

1

Solid

LP0940

4x5

Scovill & Adams 

Wat Var 1

769

0.58

Light Mahogany

Shellac

Bottom

Plain

2/scalloped

1

Solid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LP0349

6 x8

Scovill & Adams

Wat Var 2

495

0.84

Light Mahogany

Shellac

Bottom

Plain

1/square

1

Frame

LP626

8x10

Scovill Mfg.

Wat Var 2

21

0.82

Light Mahogany?

Shellac

Bottom

Plain

2/square

2

Frame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LP0521

5x8

Scovill Mfg.

Wat-Type Var 1

None

1.06

Dark Mahogany

French polish

Side

Draw-File

1/square

2

Frame

LP1086

5x8

Am. Opt. and Scovill / Both 2

Wat-Type Var 1

None

1.06

Dark Mahogany

French polish

Side

Draw-File

1/square

1

Frame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LP748

4x5

Scovill Mfg.

Wat-Type Var 2

245

0.59

Dark Mahogany

French polish

Bottom

Draw-File

1/square

1

Frame

LP861

4x5

Scovill Mfg.

Wat-Type Var 2

228

.058

Dark Mahogany

French polish

Bottom

Draw-File

1/square

1

Frame

LP894

4x5

Am. Opt., Scovill

Wat-Type Var 2

None

0.61

Dark Mahogany

French polish

Bottom

Draw-File

1/square

1

Frame

LP971

4x5

Am. Opt., Scovill

Wat-Type Var 2

None

0.62

Dark Mahogany

French polish

Bottom

Draw-File

1/square

1

Frame

LP0572

5x7

Am. Opt., Scovill

Wat-Type Var 2

None

0.58

Dark Mahogany

French polish

Bottom

Draw-File

1/square

1

Frame

LP1061

5x8

Am. Opt., Scovill

Wat-Type Var 2

None

0.58

Dark Mahogany

French polish

Bottom

Draw-File

1/square

1

Frame

LP1080

5x7

Scovill Mfg.

Wat-Type Var 2

22

0.57

Dark Mahogany

French polish

Bottom

Draw-File

1/square

1

Frame

1 calculated as a ratio of the left frame width to the horizontal width of the ground glass

2 on both examples, there are two Scovill Mfg. Co., N.Y. stamps (lens board and ground glass frame) and one American Optical Co., Scovill Mfg. Co., N.Y. stamps.

 

 

Comparison of the size of Waterbury-Type View Camera Variation 1 to Other Variations (This Example is Waterbury View Camera Variation 1)
scovill&adamswaterbury6x8b349.jpg (24003 bytes)
scovill&adamswaterbury6x8b349.jpg (24003 bytes)

 

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. a10
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), distributed by Andrew J. Smith (Providence, RI), 1886, p. 34
Scovill's Photo. Series No. 12, Photographic Chemistry, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), 1886, p. a19
Scovill's Photo. Series No. 20, Dry Plate Making for Amateurs, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), 1886, p. a10
Catalog P, Photographic Material, J. W. Queen & Co. (Philadelphia, PA), 1886, p. 51
How to Make Pictures, 4th edition, Henry Clay Price, Scovill Mfg. Co., publishers (New York, NY), dated 1887, copyright 1886, p.a8
Photographic Lenses and How to Select Them, James W. Queen & Co. (Philadelphia, PA), 1887, p. 27
Scovill's Photographic Series No. 26, The Photographic Instructor, Prof. Charles Ehrmann, Scovill Mfg. Co., 1888, ads p. xiv
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. 32
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, Scovill Mfg. Co. (New York, NY), undated but about January 1888, p. 31
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. 20
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), January 1889, p. 19
American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1890, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), ads p. 69
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. 20
Photographic Material, Catalogue O & P, James W. Queen & Co. (Philadelphia, PA), 1891, p. 39
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), distributed by Sargent & Co. (Cleveland, OH), April 1891, p. 8
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. 10
American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1892, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), 1891, ads p. 106
How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), January 1892, p. 9
American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1893, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), 1892, ads p. 144
The American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1894, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), 1893, p. 96
How to Make Photographs and a Descriptive Catalogue of Photographic Materials Illustrated, The Scovill & Adams Co. (New York, NY), 1896, p. 28

 

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