Rochester Camera Manufacturing Company, Rochester, New York        1892? - 1894

Introduced by Rochester Camera Manufacturing Company by May, 1893, the Rochester Hand Camera was an evolution of "The Rochester" or "The Rochester Camera" in company literature.  Priced in 1893 at $16 with an R.C.M Single Achromatic Lens, it could also be had with an R.C.M. Rapid Symmetrical Lens ($23) or Gundlach's Rapid Rectigraphic Lens ($32). It came with one double plate holder and could also be used with a roll holder. 


Rochester Camera Manufacturing was in business between 1891 and 1895, becoming Rochester Camera Company in late 1895 or early 1896 and finally, Rochester Camera and Supply Company in 1897.  The company subsequently merged with four other firms to form Rochester Optical and Camera Company in 1899.   R.C.M. Co. became famous for their POCO line of cameras, some of which incorporated features found on The Rochester Camera.


The Rochester Hand Camera's predecessor, The Rochester Camera, disappeared from Rochester Camera Manufacturing Company catalogues by 1893. Montgomery Ward was still offering a camera called "The Rochester" as late as 1895 in their Catalogue No. 57 for Spring & Summer.  Based upon the camera's name and the engraving used, Montgomery Ward was either selling new old stock The Rochesters, or the camera being sold was The Rochester's successor, the Rochester Hand Camera being depicted with engravings that had not been revised:


From Montgomery Ward's Catalogue No. 57 for Spring & Summer 1895


In trying to determine which of the above scenarios was correct, it was thought that being fitted with Gundlach's Rapid Rectigraphic Lens, this might indicate which camera was actually being sold by Wards in 1895. However, this proved fruitless as both The Rochester Camera and the Rochester Hand Camera were available with the Gundlach Rapid Rectigraphic lens as an option.

Photographic supplier W.P. Buchanan was offering the Rochester Hand Camera in 1893, but was utilizing the older engraving for The Rochester:


From W.P. Buchanan's 1893 Catalogue          Source: The Getty Research Institute through HathiTrust


W.P. Buchanan's 1893 Catalogue Cover        Source: The Getty Research Institute through HathiTrust



                         From the American Amateur Photographer, April, 1892


From the above reference in the American Amateur Photographer, April, 1892 noting "an improved Rochester hand-camera, this is presumed to be The Rochester Camera's successor, the "Rochester Hand Camera" being introduced by April, 1892.  However, the engraving still reflects The Rochester Camera.  The Rochester Hand Camera as it appears in Rochester Camera Manufacturing Company's 1893 catalogue has been redesigned based upon the new catalogue engraving:


       From Rochester Camera Manufacturing Company's May, 1893 Catalogue


Like its predecessor, production of the Rochester Hand Camera was very short-lived and I've yet to encounter an example. Most of Rochester Camera Manufacturing's early models can be considered rare, and based upon the number that have survived, the Rochester Hand Camera may rank as the most difficult model to acquire....if one does exist.