THE IRVING CAMERA
American Optical Company, New York, Scovill & Adams Company, Proprietors 1895-1900
Introduced by March,1890, the Irving Camera was beautifully constructed of polished mahogany and lacquered brass hardware. This Variation 2 example with metal posts (vs. wooden), shown here in a whole plate format, was one of five sizes offered from 4x5 to 8x10. Equipped with a celluloid focusing screen in lieu of ground glass, this original factory alternative which lightened the camera considerably, was cutting edge for its time.
Although the Irving Camera was manufactured for 10 years, this example with metal posts places it within the latter half of its production run. It's equipped with Bausch & Lomb's first commercially produced shutter, the Time & Instantaneous Diaphragm Shutter - Model of 1888.
The camera's ivoroid tag on the frame top reads "American Optical Company, The Scovill & Adams Co NY Prop's - Manf'd expressly for - Simpkinson & Miller, Cincinnati, Ohio". Simpkinson & Miller was a photographic supply house of the era, that remained in operation through at least 1922. The focusing back is also stamped "Amer. Optical Co." and "Patd. Sept. 16, 1890".
This Irving example differs from some other known models, in that it has a curved opening at the lens board's base, versus a squared opening with a half-circle cut-out as seen in factory engravings. This curved base was found on the later Compact Camera, offered by Anthony & Scovill in 1904. Other minor differences can be found in the Irving's bed hardware.
Despite being made for a decade, few Irving Cameras are seen today. The Irving is among American Optical Company's scarcer cameras, and I have seen maybe three on Ebay over the last 15-20 years. The Time & Instantaneous Diaphragm Shutter - Model of 1888 is very rare, and I have only encountered two examples, both of which reside in the collection.
From Scovill & Adams' How to Make Photographs, October, 1893