American Optical Company/Scovill & Adams, New York       1895 - 1897




Introduced in 1895, the Henry Clay, Jr. is at first glance very similar to the Henry Clay, 2nd. Both cameras are believed to have been introduced about the same time, with both appearing in Scovill's How to Make Photographs and a Descriptive Catalogue of Photographic Materials Illustrated, 1895.  These new Henry Clay models were aimed at the growing demand for a moderately priced camera, capable of producing good results. And by this time, there was a trend towards smaller and lighter cameras. The size difference between the Henry Clay, Jr. 4x5 and the Henry Clay Camera in 5x7 is appreciable from any angle:


                                                Henry Clay Camera 5x7                                                                                 Henry Clay, Jr. 4x5

The Henry Clay, Jr. in 4x5 is easily distinguished from the Henry Clay, 2nd, based upon its single knob for the rising/falling lens board and the split track rail. These features differ from the multiple knobs (more swing capability) and the solid track rail found on the Henry Clay, 2nd.  These differences were noted from catalogue engravings, and from a known example of the Henry Clay, 2nd. 

Making the distinction between the two cameras was a little confusing, as both the Henry Clay, 2nd and the Henry Clay, Jr. models were described as having single or double swings, and the example featured here has neither.  Advertisements also didn't specify swings as an option and the Henry Clay, Jr.'s ad description in Scovill's The American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1895 notes a rising/falling lens board, but no swing.  All of this suggested that the example seen here was an earlier version, and that swings were added later in production. This would turn out to be true, as by 1896, advertisements indicate the camera as having a double swing front.



     From Scovill's The American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1895


As stated in the multiple-page excerpt at bottom from The Henry Clay Cameras published by Scovill & Adams, the Henry Clay, Jr. was also offered in 5x7. As seen below in the 5x7's engraving, the lens standard's base and track gear resembles that found on the Henry Clay Camera/Henry Clay Regular, and the camera is equipped with Gundlach's New Photographic Shutter of 1894-1895. This shutter can be found on cameras manufactured by the American Optical Company, Rochester Camera Manufacturing Company and the Milburn Korona Company, but it's best known as the original model of the Poco Shutter:



   Henry Clay, Jr. 5x7 with Gundlach's New Photographic Shutter of 1894-1895


              Gundlach's New Photographic Shutter     1894-1895


   Gundlach Single Valve Right Side Shutter Tha American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1895, The Scovill & Adams Company

   Ad from Scovill's American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1895


The Henry Clay Cameras catalogue shown here is 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.

The Henry Clay, Jr. shown here is equipped with a Mathein Shutter having both a front and rear element.  This double-lens Mathein appears to have been the standard configuration for this model in 1895 and 1896, as no other options were offered:


From Scovill's The American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1895


Despite their compactness in the 4x5 size and being more economically priced, relatively few Henry Clay, Jr. and Henry Clay, 2nd models were ever sold.  Very few examples of either model probably exist, making them some of the most difficult Henry Clay cameras to locate. And if truth be known, just about any model of the Henry Clay is hard to find.  


For more information on other Henry Clay Cameras, the Mathein Shutter or the Poco Shutter-Original Model (Gundlach's New Photographic Shutter), look for them under the "Antique Cameras" and "Shutters" sections of this website.









       The Henry Clay Cameras cover, and following contents (undated but believed 1896)    













                                     Scovill's Almanac for 1895