George Wale, Marksboro, New Jersey 1887 - 1890
through Scovill Manufacturing Company, later Scovill & Adams Company
Wale Shutter, advertised as "The Wale Universal Lenses with Instantaneous and Time
Shutter", appears in How to
Make Pictures, Easy Lessons for the Amateur Photographer, by Henry Clay Price,
1887, and in Scovill Manufacturing Company's How to Make Photographs and Descriptive Price List, April, 1887,
distributed by C.H. Codman & Company, Boston. The shutter, utilizing a
rubber band was equipped with a pneumatic release.
From Scovill's The American Annual of
Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1889
The Wale Shutter featured
here was found with this Henry Clay
While it's acknowledged George Wale made the lenses, it's undetermined as to who actually
manufactured the shutter mechanism. Wale of Marksboro, New Jersey, was known
early on as a microscope maker, later being associated with lens makers Charles C. Harrison and Richard Morrison.
Zahorcak's outstanding article on Richard Morrison "As the Glue Sets, Lens Lore: The Morrison Connection",
published in the Cascade Panorama,
Reunion Issue, October, 2010, by late 1871, Morrison who had previously
been with New York Optical Works, acquired what remained of that factory and
engaged George Wale in the newly formed Richard Morrison Company. After
Morrison's death in 1888, Wale then took the Richard Morrison Company into the
Scovill Manufacturing Company.
The shutter's lens barrel is marked "Geo. Wale, 6-1/2 x 8-1/2, 8 In., Scovill" with number 247, presumably the serial number.
Unlike the Mathein Shutter that would follow having a rotary aperture, the
Wale's barrel was slotted for Waterhouse stops:
As yet, no patent for the Wale's design has been found,
and it's believed to have been manufactured 1887-1890 based on advertisements.
It would be succeeded by Scovill's
Instantaneous Lens and Shutter designed by Washington Irving Adams, manufactured approximately 1891-1893 and
seen on the first Henry Clay Cameras introduced 1891. Following Scovill's
Instantaneous was the Wale & Mathein,
designed by Franz Joseph Mathein, manufactured 1893-1896 (last year depicted in
Scovill & Adams ads for the full-sized Henry Clay). By 1897, the Henry Clay
gets slightly downsized, being equipped with the "Solograph
Shutter" (Unicum - Model of 1897) also referring
to this shutter as a "Bausch & Lomb Diaphragm Shutter".
Both the Scovill Instantaneous Lens and Shutter and the Wale & Mathein Shutter
were covered by patents:
Scovill's Instantaneous Lens and
Shutter Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark
Wale & Mathein (or
"Mathein") Shutter Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark
The question of who manufactured the Wale Shutter
actually extends to Scovill's Instantaneous Lens and Shutter and to the Wale
& Mathein, as well. As stated earlier, George Wale was associated with
Scovill Mfg. during the period when the Wale Shutter was introduced. Washington
Irving Adams, who designed Scovill's Instantaneous Lens and Shutter, was the
President and Treasurer of Scovill & Adams. Franz J. Mathein designed the
Wale and Mathein, reportedly building the shutter and again, with George Wale
being associated with Scovill & Adams. George Wale having built microscopes
possessed enough skill to build a shutter, and no doubt Mathein did, as well.
And maybe, the reality is that Scovill Mfg. (later Scovill & Adams) having
the manufacturing capacity, built all three shutters. Interestingly, despite their different
mechanical designs, these three shutters all exhibit casings with an offset
lens, all the individuals who either designed the lenses or are believed to
have possibly built the shutter were associated with Scovill Mfg. Company or
Scovill & Adams and all three shutters would be marketed by either Scovill
Mfg. Company or later, Scovill & Adams.
As for George Wale's own enterprises, he's seen in this
1893 ad from The American Amateur
Photographer, Volume 5:
Philadelphia Photographer, 1888
As for George Wale's association with Franz Mathein,
advertisements for their company Wale
& Mathein first appear in 1895. The ads describe their lenses
"complete with shutter" (presumably the Wale & Mathein), despite
the Mathein Shutter having been produced years earlier. Advertisements for Wale
& Mathein are also seen in 1896, the year in which it's believed operations
were halted. With the introduction of the Mathein Shutter by 1892 or 1893,
production of the Wale Shutter probably ceased a few years before.
The Wale Shutter
ranks among the rarest of all shutters found on earlier American self-casing
and field cameras. This Wale is one of only three examples I've seen in the
last 35 years.
For more information on George Wale's microscopes and lenses, follow these links to
And for George Wale 1840 - ca. 1903: