THE CHAMPION SHUTTER
Andrew Prosch, New York 1884
The Champion Shutter has been a mystery among some collectors, the few examples seen being marked "Champion, A. Prosch, N.Y."
The Champion shares similarities to the earliest versions of Cyrus Prosch's Duplex Shutter, and "A. Prosch" stands for Andrew Prosch, Cyrus Prosch's uncle. Andrew Prosch and his brother George W. Prosch are credited with constructing the first daguerreotype camera in America for Samuel F. B. Morse. The Prosch brothers were in business together as instrument makers, beginning about 1840. By 1860/1861 both were listed as Opticians and by 1863, Andrew is listed as an optician at 142 Chatham Street, New York. From at least this point forward, Andrew Prosch appears to have operated under his own name.
By 1872, Andrew Prosch is listed as a "Microscopic and Photographic Instrument Maker, 150 Chatham Street, New York, manufacturer of Microscopes and New and Improved Magic Lanterns and Stereopticons" in Trow's New York City Directory.
Scovill's The Photographic Times and American Photographer Volume XIV for 1884, reported on the Photographers' Association of America, Cincinnati Convention held in July, 1884. Under the section entitled "Manufacturer and Dealers' Exhibits", the firm of Sheen & Simpkinson exhibited a "champion" shutter. Although not specifically referred to as a Prosch and with no other shutters known by the Champion name during that time, this may have been a reference to Andrew Prosch's Champion Shutter. The 1884 period of manufacture for the Champion seems to dovetail with the introduction of the Instantaneous Shutter, which lends some credence to the possibility that this Champion shutter referenced is one in the same.
Although Andrew Prosch's nephew Cyrus Prosch, was granted Patent No. 312,581 on February 17, 1885 (applied for January 21, 1884) for the Instantaneous Shutter (design elements of which are found in the later "Eclipse" and Rapid Shutters), the Instantaneous Shutter was manufactured by Andrew Prosch beginning in 1884. Adding to this, by 1885, the "Eclipse" Shutter was being advertised by Cyrus Prosch along with his Duplex Shutter. The first "Eclipse" Shutters, which may have been built in either late 1884 or early 1885, are also believed to have been built by Andrew Prosch as examples have been found bearing the "A. Prosch" name. Later "Eclipse" Shutters would bear "C. Prosch" for Cyrus Prosch.
With Andrew Prosch having built the Instantaneous Shutter in 1884, and an 1885 advertisement showing the Eclipse and Duplex Shutters being sold by Cyrus Prosch, 36 Platt Street, New York, this all suggests that Andrew Prosch built the Champion in 1884 before manufacturing transitioned to Cyrus Prosch. With the manufacture of the last of the "Eclipse" Shutters and the introduction of the Duplex, Cyrus Prosch's name would grace these models. After that, just the "Prosch Mfg. Co." name would appear on their shutters. It should be noted that some Prosch shutters have been seen with no identification.
The Champion was probably made for less than a year, and with just a few examples having surfaced, no doubt very few were built. Several of Prosch's early models can be considered very rare, and the Champion certainly fits that category.