American Optical Company, Scovill & Adams, Proprietors          1891 - 1892



Originally sold with Scovill's Instantaneous Lens and Shutter, this Henry Clay sliding-bed design in 5x7 is equipped with a Rochester Camera Manufacturing Company R.C.M. Co. No. 4 Single Achromatic Lens with a rotary aperture. This lens was offered in Rochester Camera Manufacturing's Illustrated Catalogue and Price List of Photographic Apparatus, May, 1893:



         R.C.M. Co. No. 4 Single Achromatic Lens                                 From Rochester Camera Mfg.'s 1893 Catalogue      


Being a self-casing camera, it was most likely used with a shutter that mounted to the lens shade, like another Henry Clay sliding-bed example on this website having a Pneumo Shutter mounted to a Gundlach Rapid Rectigraphic Lens:



                             Henry Clay sliding-bed design with Pneumo Shutter


Like the Pneumo Shutter example, this camera may also be one of the earliest versions of the Henry Clay Camera, in that it has no tightening lever to secure lateral and swing adjustments to the lens standard, the lens standard's base being fixed. The earliest ads I've found that date to 1892 (1891 copyright) and one estimated to date circa June, 1892, already include the swing capability as standard. The swing capability was shown as an option on the Henry Clay Stereoscopic (sliding-bed design), in an ad from Scovill & Adams' How to Make Photographs, January, 1892, stating that this "Vertical Sliding and Swing Front" feature was offered for an additional $5 over the Henry Clay Stereoscopic's base price of $75. But, it's undetermined whether this option was ever offered for the standard Henry Clay Camera in 1891.


Later 1892 and 1893 ads for the Henry Clay Camera (non-stereoscopic) now reflect the swing capability as standard equipment, with both the Henry Clay Stereoscopic and the Henry Clay Camera still being depicted with sliding-bed designs and the swing feature still being offered as an upgrade on the Henry Clay Stereoscopic. It should be noted that sometimes, ad engravings were not immediately updated to reflect changes in design and this has been particularly true for the Henry Clay.


Compared with the other Henry Clay sliding-bed cameras on this website, this particular example is noteworthy on a number of points. The manufacturer's tag is mounted on top of the lens board. Generally, on later Henry Clay hinged-bed cameras, tags are found on the bed or at the end of the track. However, Henry Clay sliding-bed examples have also been seen with a tag at the end of the track, or with no tag at all. The Henry Clay sliding-bed example above with the Pneumo Shutter, has no tag and there are no screw holes on the bed, inner walls or track end to suggest that there ever was one.



The camera's viewfinder is missing, but the presence of screw holes indicates it was mounted to the camera's inner side wall. This is consistent with catalogue engravings in the earliest ads, as well as a few later ones found for both the Henry Clay Stereoscopic (sliding-bed design) and the Henry Clay Camera. In general, by the inception of the hinged-bed design, viewfinders were now mounted to the lens board top where they would remain thereafter. However, at least one Henry Clay hinged-bed example has been seen with an inner side wall mounted viewfinder indicating there was a transition period.



                                                                                                      Ad from W.P. Buchanan's 1893 Catalogue         Source: The Internet Archive


As seen in the photo below at left, the lens board on this example was constructed with a circular wooden inset. Another Henry Clay Camera in the collection, below right photo, has a lens board with a cylindrical wooden extension. This extension provided additional clearance for the pneumatic release valve located on the rear of the Scovill's Instantaneous Lens and Shutter it's equipped with. Manual versions of this shutter were mounted closer to the lens board, as they had no pneumatic release valve. However, the circular inset on the camera featured here is flush with the lens board, doesn't appear to have been ground down and looks to be factory original as more of a decorative touch. Other than these two examples, the Henry Clay Cameras I've encountered all have the typical 3-panel lens board.



   Comparing this camera (left) with another Henry Clay equipped with a Pneumatic version of Scovill's Instantaneous Lens and Shutter, showing the cylindrical wooden extension (right)


And finally, this camera's most distinguishing feature is its track extension. Measuring 5" long, it mounts by first slipping the two screw heads on the extension's end (one screw is missing) into the slots on the mating plate at the camera track's end, and sliding it left. The knurled knob is then tightened, securing the extension and maintaining its alignment.














As yet, no mention of an extension track has been found in any Henry Clay advertising. It's the only Henry Clay Camera, sliding-bed or hinged-bed, that I've ever seen with this feature. And, of the other Henry Clay's in this collection, those known in other collections, those in museums and photographs of Henry Clays found on the internet, all have track ends without mounting plates for such an extension.


In keeping with other early Henry Clay Cameras that survive, this one has no serial number. The number "3" (probably an assembly number) is stamped on the interior of the side access door. Some, but not all Henry Clays are found with serial numbers, either located on the bed or in area of the bed's hinge on later versions.



For more information on the Henry Clay sliding-bed design, and other Henry Clay cameras,  look for them under the "Antique Cameras" section of this website.