Manhattan Optical Company, Cresskill, New Jersey                      1897 - 1898


Believed to have been introduced in 1897, Manhattan Optical Company's Wide Angle Wizard appears as early as April, 1897 in The Cosmopolitan Magazine.  The camera came equipped with its standard Rapid Rectilinear lens mounted in a Unicum shutter, and a wide angle lens with its rotary aperture and leather lens cap that stored conveniently on the camera's folding bed. Although unmarked, Manhattan Optical marketed the Emil Wide-Angle Lens, suggesting this lens may have been manufactured or supplied by Emil.  The bed could also be dropped to an angle of about 135 degrees, thereby extending the camera's wide angle capabilities.

This variant of the Unicum Shutter (Model of 1897), bears the Manhattan Optical Company name on the speed dial. Equipped with horizontal-style linkage, it followed the earlier curved linkage which is encountered most often today.  Unicum variants like this one have been seen on Anthony & Scovill, Folmer & Schwing and Flammang Camera Company cameras from the late 1890's.

The Wide Angle Wizard can also be found in Montgomery Ward's Catalogue "G" for 1897, marketed as "The Wide Angle Garden City". The shutter is described in Montgomery Ward's description as being a "modified Bausch & Lomb Diaphragm".


At best, Manhattan's Wide Angle Wizard lasted for only two years, no longer appearing in Manhattan's 1899 Catalogue (by this time, the Long Focus Wide Angle Wizard was only being offered).  Based on the few examples I've seen in the past twenty years, it's reasonable to say the camera is extremely scarce, maybe borderline rare.














The Manhattan Optical Company Catalogue below is believed to date to 1897 or 1898.


                                         Image courtesy of Pacific Rim Camera

                                       Image courtesy of Pacific Rim Camera


                                          Image courtesy of Pacific Rim Camera


             From the American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac 1898