THE WALE SHUTTER                 

  George Wale, Marksboro, New Jersey             1887 - 1890

  Marketed through Scovill Manufacturing Company, later Scovill & Adams Company


The 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 Camera:



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.

Citing Milan 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 Office

                     Wale & Mathein (or "Mathein") Shutter                                                 Source:  U.S. Patent and Trademark Office


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:




                           From the 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: