American Optical Company/Scovill & Adams           1896 - 1897





This 5x7 example of the Henry Clay Regular is equipped with Bausch & Lomb's Iris Diaphragm Shutter.


By 1896, Scovill & Adams was willing to mount Bausch & Lomb's "Diaphragm Shutter" (Iris Diaphragm) at no additional cost, in lieu of the standard Mathein Shutter.  This offer is stated in the The Henry Clay Cameras catalogue believed dated to either late 1895 or 1896, since reference is made to the Henry Clay Regular (the Henry Clay Camera as it was then being referred to in 1896 and 1897), and that Scovill & Adams moved from 423 Broome Street to 60 and 62 E. Eleventh Street in 1896.

When American Optical/Scovill & Adams slightly downsized the Henry Clay during its last two years of production (1898-1899), they continued to offer the B&L Diaphragm Shutter as the higher-end option.  While the B&L Diaphragm Shutter is specifically named in Scovill's ad descriptions, the standard shutter is not, referred to only as "fitted with the latest production of this factory in the way of a shutter".  The Henry Clay's engraving from Scovill's The American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1899, depicts it with a Unicum Shutter (Model of 1897).  I've never encountered an example of this final downsized Henry Clay, and it would be interesting to find one equipped with either shutter.


The camera shown here is a standard size (non-roll holder) model and its dimensions are 8-5/16" in height, 6-5/16" in depth and 9-1/2" in width.  It should be noted that variations in body dimensions and other features have been found among surviving Henry Clay's, and I'll endeavor to provide this information for other examples featured on this website.


Despite the Henry Clay Regular being produced for several years and the popularity of Bausch & Lomb's Iris Diaphragm Shutter, this shutter combination is rarely encountered.  Most examples of the Henry Clay Camera and the Henry Clay Regular seen today, will be found equipped with the Mathein Shutter.


For more information on other Henry Clay models, the Mathein Shutter or the Bausch & Lomb Iris Diaphragm Shutter, look for them under the "Antique Cameras" and "Shutters" sections of this website.