Bausch & Lomb Optical Company, Rochester, New York          1901


Attractive and well-designed, this first model of Bausch & Lomb's Auto Shutter was introduced in 1901 and would be manufactured for only one year.  Its speed selector was located at the bottom with the aperture adjustment and scale at the top, in a reverse arrangement from most shutters of the period.  The shutter's beautiful fit and finish and its striking red lettering notwithstanding, this stylish design departure rendered the Auto uniquely identifiable.


The Auto Shutter's speeds ranged from 1 second to 1/100th of a second, with bulb and time settings. As its name implied, the function was "automatic", being cycled either manually or pneumatically with one movement of the lever or with a single squeeze of the bulb. No cocking was required and beginning with the Auto Shutter's introduction, all of Bausch & Lomb's shutters that followed would be automatic.


The shutter's design was covered by Patent No. 761,771 granted on June 7, 1904 to Rudolf Klein of Rochester, New York and assigned to the Bausch & Lomb Optical Company of Rochester, New York. Klein, a designer at Bausch & Lomb applied for the patent on December 3, 1900. The shutter's casing is stamped "Bausch & Lomb Opt. Co., Pat. App'd For". This "Pat. App'd For" stamping never changed since production ceased years before the patent was issued in 1904:




                             Source:  U.S. Patent and Trademark Office


                          Patent applied for stamping found on all examples


          Auto Shutter on a Rochester Optical & Camera Company Pony Premo No. 6  4x5



Most often found on cameras by the Rochester Optical and Camera Company, this first model of the Auto Shutter has been seen in at least three versions.  All versions of the shutter are identical as to function and shutter speed settings, the main difference lying with their aperture scales.


Version 1 which is the one almost always encountered, has an aperture scale with a maximum setting of f128:



                                             Version 1

                                       Version 1's aperture scale



Version 2's aperture scale has a maximum setting of f256, and is seldom seen:

                                                          Version 2


                                            Version 2's aperture scale


Version 3 has three aperture ranges on the scale, each having a maximum setting of f256. Each range has graduations, tailored for use with a specific lens combination. The example seen here is equipped with a Bausch & Lomb-Zeiss Convertible Anastigmat 14in. f7 lens, which was the most expensive lens offering for the Auto Shutter in Rochester Optical and Camera Company's The Premo Camera, The Poco Camera Catalogue, April 15,1901.  Version 3 is by far the rarest, due to the higher cost of an upgraded lens. The example shown here is one of the few I've come across:



                                                      Version 3



                                           Version 3's aperture scale


                                 Version 1 (60mm)                                           Version 2 (70mm)                                             Version 3 (60mm)


It was previously believed that the Auto Shutter was built in only one size with a  60mm diameter casing.  However, the Version 2's casing seen above measures 70mm in width and per the The Premo Camera, The Poco Camera Catalogue, 1901, the shutter was offered in formats 4x5, 5x7, 6-1/2x8-1/2 and 8x10. As it was with some other shutter models of the period, in physical case dimensions, at least two sizes were offered. The smaller size had enough latitude to cover the two smaller formats, and correspondingly, the larger size covered the two largest formats. This scheme may apply to the Auto Shutter, as well, or possibly larger diameter casings were built for the larger formats and I'm just yet to encounter one.  


Having a brief production life, this first model of the Auto Shutter is not seen that often today.