Dating scovill buttons
In the 1860's and 1870s, the former Stock New York factory apparently continued to produce its normal multiple tiers of camera quality. At this time, all cameras, whether from the American Optical factory or the Peck factory, were marked: The Scovill & Adams Co., New York.
In the middle 1880s and later, however, it appears that the lesser wood (sycamore rather than mahogany) and lesser finished cameras were tasked to the former Peck New Haven factory, while the complex, French polished and pricey cameras were made by the Stock-American Optical New York factory. Regardless of marking, the disparity of finish between the factories continued, and it is usually obvious when a camera is from the American Optical factory or from the Peck factory.
was founded in 1802, producing non-ferrous, mainly brass and copper, items for the rapidly expanding economy of the industrial revolution. Until 1889, cameras manufactured at the American Optical factories were marked as such: American Optical Co., Scovill Mfg. American Optical cameras have either a German Silver-plated brass label, or their identity stamped into the wood.
Upon the introduction of photography to the United States in the late 1830's, Scovill was immediately capable of the manufacture of the silver-plated copper sheets required for the Daguerrotype photographic process. The John Stock factory made the camera boxes and other wooden items and parts, and the Harrison factory concentrated on the lenses. The final polish is achieved by a light application of another rag charged with solvent (ethanol) only.Existing cameras marked American Optical appear to be made from better, fancier wood and finished better than existing cameras marked Scovill.This can easiest be explained by assuming that American Optical-marked cameras were made at one of Scovill Mfg.This conclusion is suggested by the sizes of similar design cameras.For example, the popular Scovill Waterbury Camera had a counterpart of almost the same design but marked American Optical (American Optical Waterbury-type Camera).