Posted 12 months ago
As a collector of really early photographic apparatus, I search intently for pictures of photographers and their cameras, but more pointedly, images with cameras in my collection are desired. Early pictures of photographers and their cameras are hard to find, and I owe Scott (scottvez) many thanks for pointing out this albumen CDV on eBay. Okay ... it was one of those tough decisions ... retail price vs. something rare that hits the core of my collecting. (Collecting won out.)
The camera appearing in this CDV was made by the American Optical Company or Scovill Manufacturing; yet it’s interesting to note that in the 1870s American Optical was a division of Scovill Mfg. So the maker isn’t all that mysterious. The CDV itself was found with other images in an 1877 dated album.
From a camera collecting point of view, the 4-tube camera shown in this CDV is highly coveted and appears to be the 5 x 5 inch version of my 5 x7 inch model. So it’s great to now have a matching image.
One other interesting item of note about the cloth held by the photographer; it probably served two purposes. First, it was a 'dark cloth' to view faint images on the ground glass. Its second purpose was likely to serve as a shutter. After composing the image and loading a wet plate, the cloth would be draped over the lenses, removed briefly, and replaced to make an exposure.