Folmer & Schwing Manufacturing Company, New York             1898


Based on the shutter it's equipped with and having no removable lens board, features of which are outlined in Folmer & Schwing's catalogues, this appears to be an earlier version of their Telescopic Graphic.


Introduced by June 1,1898, it was made in several formats with various modifications through at least 1904, by which time it was only offered in 5x7. This style of shutter, which is built into the camera's front panel, is similar to those seen on early-to-mid 1890's detective and hand cameras:



This camera differs from the Telescopic Graphic's later version, having no Folmer & Schwing identification, no sliding lens cover, having view finders located next to each other rather than a single view finder (or two view finders positioned at opposing corners), having a shutter built into the front panel with push-button releases and spring tensioning (rather than an external-type dual-valve shutter with pneumatic release), and the inside being finished in black enamel versus lacquered mahogany.  This particular example is equipped with a Bausch & Lomb Rapid Universal 4x5 lens having an iris aperture. As positioned in the picture at top, this example's dimensions are 5-1/8" in height, 6-3/4" in width and 8-1/2" in depth.


In 1891, Folmer & Schwing began contracting with other manufacturers to establish a camera sideline to their gaslight fixture and bicycle businesses.  In 1895, Scovill and Adams was asked to make a number of cameras to order that would represent an improvement upon their then existing American Optical Henry Clay model. The Telescopic Graphic 4x5 example shown here may also have been built by American Optical Company/Scovill & Adams, the Flammang Camera Company or even another company altogether, prior to the fall of 1897 when Folmer & Schwing began to manufacture their own cameras. Folmer & Schwing is also known to have sourced cameras from Rochester Optical during the 1896-1897 time period.  Of course, there's the possibility that Folmer & Schwing actually built this camera, in either late 1897 or 1898.  But it's odd that the camera has no Folmer & Schwing markings, or that of any other maker.


Since it appears in their June 1,1898 catalogue which coincides with their entry into making their own cameras in late 1897, I'll attribute this 4x5 Telescopic Graphic's manufacture to Folmer & Schwing pending new information.

Over the past twenty years, I've come across a few examples of the later Telescopic Graphic, one of which is featured on this website. But this is the only example of the earlier version that I have ever encountered.








     Ad for the early version of the Telescopic Graphic

     From Folmer & Schwing's June 1,1898 Catalogue and Price List of Photographic Apparatus           (courtesy of Pacific Rim Camera)




     Ad for the later version of the Telescopic Graphic

     From The American Amateur Photographer, Volume XIII, No, 4, April, 1901        Source: HathiTrust Digital Library