The Flammang Camera Company, 180-186 West Houston Street, New York          1896 - 1897



This Folmer & Schwing Graphic Camera was manufactured by the Flammang Camera Company of New York, established by Mathias Flammang in 1896. The Flammang Camera Company ad below mentions "Zenith Folding Cameras", but with no ad engraving and no factory catalogues to reference, it's unknown whether the camera featured here, or possibly another Flammang Solograph-Styled camera found elsewhere on this website, may also have been marketed as the Zenith by Flammang.



    From Scovill's The American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1898


Mathias Flammang was the Superintendant at American Optical Company's Waterbury factory, that company having been acquired by Scovill Manufacturing Company in 1867. In 1889, the photographic arm of Scovill Manufacturing became Scovill & Adams. Scovill & Adams was approached by Folmer & Schwing in 1895, to develop an improved version of the Henry Clay for them. With the camera being manufactured by American Optical for Scovill & Adams, Flammang was aware of this arrangement and sought to become engaged in the manufacture of cameras on his own. In 1896, he left American Optical/Scovill & Adams, forming the Flammang Camera Company. He would build cameras under his own name, as well as for other companies.

Per Rodger Digilio's article "Involvement of the Flammang Camera Company in the Manufacture of Cameras for Folmer & Schwing", published in the Graflex Historic Quarterly, Volume 15, Issue 1, for First Quarter 2010, "Flammang entered into an agreement to make cameras exclusively for Folmer & Schwing. They advanced Flammang money, but the agreement broke down in 1897. According to Folmer: "...during the summer of 1897 we were unable to secure sufficient deliveries of existing graphic models to met demand, owing to the fact that Flammang was making hand cameras for the Scovill & Adams Co., G. Gennert, and a number of local dealers."


As seen below, this Flammang-made Folmer & Schwing Graphic Camera is identical in construction to Folmer & Schwing's Graphic Camera, believed manufactured later in 1897 or by 1898, when Folmer & Schwing began building their own cameras. This is reflected in the leather covering's fleur de lis tooling, movements, hardware, door release buttons and the quality of the fit and finish seen on both cameras.



    Flammang-Folmer & Schwing Graphic                         Folmer & Schwing Graphic

                              4x5                                                                     6-1/2 x 8-1/2


Supporting this, the later Folmer Graphic contains the Folmer & Schwing Mfg. name on a circular brass inset, and on the swing lock plate at the base of the lens standard. Also, the earlier Flammang Graphic has no serial number whereas the later Folmer Graphic has serial number 3028 stamped in the rear compartment's base. Per Roger Digilio's article, it's believed serial numbers were not used until Folmer & Schwing began making their own cameras.             


This Flammang-made Folmer & Schwing Graphic is equipped with a pneumatic release version of Bausch & Lomb's Time & Instantaneous Shutter - Model of 1892. According to Dr. Rudolf Kingslake, this shutter appeared briefly in 1892/1893 before being discontinued. However, its appearance on the "Lloyd" Camera in Andrew J. Lloyd's 1897 catalogue as the "Lloyd Shutter", suggests that B&L's Model of 1892 was produced for maybe four or five years at least. It has been seen on at least one example of a Sunart Vici Camera (with a Sunart-badged aperture scale), a shutter example marked "Sunart Photo Co." on the speed dial and "VICI" on the aperture scale and a Manhattan Optical Company Wide-Angle Wizard marked "Manhattan Optical Co." on the speed dial and "Unicum" on the aperture scale. However, this shutter is most often encountered on late 1890's cameras by the Folmer & Schwing Manufacturing Company. The shutter's speed dial on this Flammang-built Graphic is marked "Folmer & Schwing, New York" with the aperture scale marked "Graphic":



This same shutter has also been found on Manhattan Optical Company's Wide Angle Wizard from 1897-1898, the shutter's speed dial on this example being marked "Manhattan Optical Co., Cresskill, N.J." with the aperture scale marked "Unicum". Although based on the earlier Bausch & Lomb Time & Instantaneous Shutter - Model of 1892's design, it was apparently marketed as a "Unicum" during the same period the Unicum Shutter - Model of 1897 was also being introduced:







The Flammang Camera Company appears to have lasted for about a year. The sole ad seen above only appeared for 1898 in Scovill's The American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1898 which, by the time the ad was released, Flammang's company had been sold. Although the ad states "Send for Catalogue", no factory literature has been found; possibly because no catalogue was ever printed before the Flammang Camera Company's extremely brief existence came to an end.


Although Flammang's name and patents are associated with (and found stamped on) many field cameras of the 1880's, few cameras bearing his name as maker or to those he manufactured for other makers, are rarely seen today. 



For more information on Folmer & Schwing's Graphic Camera, a Flammang Solograph-Styled Camera and Folmer & Schwing's Improved Henry Clay Camera, click the links below to open a new window.

Folmer & Schwing's Graphic Camera (create link)

Flammang Solograph-Styled Camera (create link)

Folmer & Schwing's Improved Henry Clay


For the article references cited here, click the links below.

Roger Digilio's Article