American Optical Company, Scovill & Adams, Proprietors        1898 - 1899




This final model of the Henry Clay Camera is believed to have been introduced by early 1898, as it makes its first appearance in Scovill & Adams' advertising in1898 (copyright 1897).


If the catalogue engraving and description are accurate, it represents a slight downsizing and departure from the previous Henry Clay Camera.  Scovill & Adams' advertisement states that the camera "has been remodeled, so as to conform to the popular idea of lightness and compactness, yet preserving the essential features that have maintained for the Henry Clay Camera the claim of superiority above all others in the market, this, not-withstanding the fact that it is the pioneer folding camera."  Scovill & Adams had already been trending toward smaller and more economical cameras with the introduction of the Henry Clay Jr. and Henry Clay 2d models around 1895/1896. But approaching the late 1890's, cycle-style cameras were in vogue and anything the size of the earlier Henry Clays would have been considered unwieldy.

The dimensions of this last model, stated in Scovill & Adams' The American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1899, copyrighted 1898, are 7-1/2" in height, 5-1/2" in depth and 9" in width.  These are in comparison to the previous model's dimensions being approximately 8-3/8" in height, 6-1/4" in depth and 9-5/8" in width:



    From Scovill's The American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1899


Gone were the square-cornered bellows replaced by angled ends, with the catalogue engravings depicting a viewfinder that looked to be smaller than the hallmark version the Henry Clay was known for. 

The Solograph, another Scovill & Adams camera that was introduced in 1898, displayed smaller body dimensions (7" in height, 5-1/2" in depth and 9-3/8" in width) like this more compact Henry Clay.  The Solograph also appears to have shared some of the Henry Clay's hardware in an effort to reduce production costs.  Lens standard posts, post clamps, bellows and carry handle all appear identical or very similar.  The Solograph was marketed at $5 cheaper alongside the Henry Clay, and would continue to be offered for a few years beyond production of the Henry Clay by the newly formed successor company Anthony & Scovill.



   From Scovill's The American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1899


                        Scovill & Adams Solograph Camera    5x7



             Manufacturer's tag on Scovill & Adams Solograph Camera    5x7


Equipped with a Scovill & Adams name tag and a Rauber & Wollensak Automatic Shutter, the Solograph above was manufactured in 1899.  That was just one year after the Solograph was introduced.  By 1902, the Rauber name would be dropped, the company now being known solely as the Wollensak Optical Company.


Along with the Solograph, some cameras by the Flammang Camera Company and the Folmer & Schwing Mfg. Co. fall into the same category.  A 5x7 Flammang in the collection appears nearly identical in size and hardware to the Solograph, and Folmer & Schwing's Improved Henry Clay displays unmistakable American Optical hardware and features such as the L-shaped access door seen on the Henry Clay.


                                          5x7 Flammang Camera

                                          5x7 Flammang Camera




                      Folmer & Schwing's Improved Henry Clay 5x7


                 Folmer & Schwing's Improved Henry Clay 5x7



Cameras by Anthony & Scovill, Flammang and Folmer & Schwing are stories in themselves, and will be addressed under their own headings on this website.  But suffice to say, these cameras all shared a connection with American Optical/Scovill & Adams resulting in many similarities.


I've never encountered an example of this last Henry Clay.  As we've seen a number of times, the first and last versions of some cameras tend to be the rarest and the hardest to locate.  This seems to be the case with the Henry Clay's final model, and we would be interested in hearing from anyone who has an example of this last model, or knows more about it.






    From The American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1899