Scovill & Adams Company, New York         1891 - 1897


                                                                        Triad 5X7


Scovill's Triad was introduced by January, 1891, in the company of such other cameras as the Scovill Detective, Advill, New Waterbury Detective, Knack and the Mascot.  Initially known as the Triad, it was listed as the Waterbury Triad in 1896 near the end of its production.  Manufactured by the American Optical Company and marketed by Scovill & Adams, it was initially available in 4x5 and 5x7 sizes. By January, 1892, the 5x7 size disappears from Scovill's catalogues, only to reappear by 1896 for unknown reasons. 


Replacing Scovill's Mascot which is believed to have been discontinued in 1892, the Triad was capable of being used with flexible film, as well as glass plates or cut film, hence the name "Triad".  The Triad was designed to accept a roll holder and could be purchased with or without one.  The camera came standard with a cut film holder, a double dry plate holder and a ground glass focusing screen. Complete and equipped with a roll holder, the Triad 5x7 was priced at $55 in January, 1891.  Equipped with two view finders for horizontal or vertical work, the view finders' design provided a proportionate view equal to the resulting image.  Focusing was achieved by viewing the image on the ground glass, through the rear access door.  An adjustment knob at the top of the camera was marked for distance, moving the lens in and out through a rack and pinion arrangement.  Fitted with an Instantaneous Rapid Group Lens, the aperture could be changed by sliding a metal tab with various sized openings.  Holes were placed in the camera's base to access the roll holder's controls. This Triad 5x7's dimensions are 7-5/8" in height, 9-7/8" wide and 11" in depth.

The shutter was fitted to the interior of the sliding front panel, and was string-set via an external charging lever.  The most often seen Triad model in 4x5 is easily distinguishable from Scovill's other detective cameras with its two side-by-side view finders:

                                                    Triad 4X5


Looking very similar to Scovill's Waterbury Detective Camera, the Triad is also characterized by the knobs found on the side and rear doors. These contrast the knob-less hinged side door and sliding rear door found on the Waterbury Detective. The Triad 5x7 differs from the Triad 4x5, having the side view finder at an approximate 45-degree angle to the top view finder and a sliding front panel that doesn't extend the entire width of the camera:

                              Triad 4X5                                                           Triad 5X7


As on the Triad 4x5, its spring-tensioned lens cover is a feature that's also found on some other Scovill Waterbury Detective models. The Triad 4x5 has also been found with an extended body to hold a greater number of holders. For more information on this version and the Triad 4x5, look for them under the "Antique Cameras" section of this website.

                                        Triad 4X5                                                  Triad 4x5 - Extended Body                                                         Triad 5x7

                                   Triad 4X5                                     Triad 4x5 - Extended Body                                       Triad 5x7



                                          Triad 4X5                                                                     Triad 4x5 - Extended Body                                          Triad 5x7


It's interesting to note that the camera depicted in advertisements for the Triad has only one view finder and no spring-tensioned lens cover. The reason for the error is unknown, but this same engraving carried forward from the Triad's introduction in 1891 through at least 1896.  The camera's description during this same period, mentions it having a "Recessed Finder" with other references to "a finder" or "the finder", but never states that the Triad had two view finders.



      Ad for the Triad from Scovill's American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac 1893


The Triad 5x7 shown here was accompanied by its original field case, eight double dry plate holders, a dark cloth and a 16-page catalogue from Miller & Company's Photographic Specialties copyrighted 1890:



    From Scovill's The American Annual of Photography and Photographic Times Almanac for 1890


The Triad 5x7 is not pictured in this catalogue. But the catalogue having been found with the camera and being copyrighted 1890, makes one speculate whether Scovill's Triad was introduced just a little earlier than January, 1891. The Triad doesn't appear in Scovill's How to Make Photographs, June, 1890, so if introduced earlier, it would have occurred within this six-month window at best.


By 1897, Scovill & Adams' only remaining detective cameras were the Waterbury Detective (also referred to as the Waterbury Regular), the Waterbury Triad (as the Triad was now called) and the New Waterbury (formerly the Waterbury Hand Camera). They all disappeared from the marketplace that year.


Like most of Scovill's earlier detective or hand cameras, the Triad is seldom seen today.  When encountered, it's almost always found in its standard 4x5 format.  This Triad 5x7 is the only example that I've ever seen. Being less popular in the larger format and costing almost 60% more than the standard 4x5 model, considerably fewer were built making the Triad 5x7 quite rare today.