The Camera Club of Hendersonville, NC
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Museums of Photography
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Not just in Western North Carolina - All over
the world !!!
Film fading fast
doesn't necessarily mean more prints, however. Because people can choose
which photos they want printed, they are more likely to pick only a few
pictures or simply store those pictures on their computers.
The American Journal of Photography Vol. 1, No. 16 (15
January 1859) pp. 233-237.
For hours I have held it, carefully noting all the soft minutiae of light and shade: and still the little rough-edged silver tablet was a joy forever, discovering some merit of complete similitude hitherto unnoted; it seemed inexhaustible, yielding new pleasure as often as consulted.
A small and pleasant village in central Indiana was the locus of this primitive achievement; the time I think, the fall of 1842. Seth, my coadjutor and compeer in the enterprise, and myself were denizens of a cosy Law Office, in the second story of an unpretending building, where we tumbled the musty tomes of legal lore, hoping in good time to make lawyers of ourselves. Seth was an artist, that is, he had wielded a pencil in his day and produced some landscapes, and even portraits which were not without merit; at least, so said the knowing ones, who pronounced him a genius undeveloped, and bewailed his aberration in reading law. At one time he had tried his hand at farming, being beguiled by the smell of new-mown hay, or more probably by the per-diem to the harvest hands, (for Seth was poor.) But that was only a temporary expedient, and he did not take kindly to association with those "whose talk was of oxen." I may mention that he afterwards turned up at New Orleans, where he verified the predictions of his quondam friends, by making a sensation in the way of landscapes and of portraits, and so the world lost a poor lawyer and gained a reputable artist.
Having an eye out for the new and curious, I had seen some time before intimations in the public prints of a wonderful French discovery in the art of portraiture, whereby it seemed quite probable there was a royal road to drawing and picture-making; and indeed, that the time was not distant, when one might look in a mirror, and leave his image sticking there. But as greater marvels have in like manner been announced and never heard of afterwards, I was disposed to regard this new wonder as belonging to the same class, until I saw another account of the mystery, and this time coupled with the more tangible statement, that the images of a camera obscura were made permanently visible, and giving a kind of outline of the method.
Seth and I talked over the new discovery for several days, determining, if possible, to verify our deductions by a practical test, and with a view to elicit all the paragraph contained, and to obtain a more complete clue to the modus operandi, we tried our hand on interpretation, and by dint of different emphasis and modulation, we thought we could more completely evolve the seeming mystery. The result of this unfledged exercise of legal acumen was, that silver plates properly exposed to the vapors of iodine, and thus coated with a thin film of a yellow or golden color, became sensitive to the action of light and received the image, which could be made visible by the fumes of mercury, and rendered permanent by a wash of salt and water. There was allusion to the employment of hypo-sulphite of soda, but as this was an unattainable salt in that region, it was not to be thought of. One great obstacle in the accomplishment of this and similar enterprises in an out of the world place like that, lies in the difficulty of obtaining suitable instruments wherewith to operate. The chemicals, the mercury, the iodine and the salt were at our command, but Seth's rather abrupt inquiry as to where in thunder we should find the tools and traps to work with, was quite pertinent. However, genius overcomes all difficulties. After another day's consultation, we brightened up our optics, consulted the authorities with a view, as Seth expressed it, of "understanding the principle on which it works," and set about building a camera obscura. It was easy to see how it might be done if we only had the lens, but a plano or a double convex was scarcely to be hoped for in that locality. The possible union of two watch crystals, with water or alcohol interposed, was debated, but after an examination of a score or two of glasses belonging to a friendly jeweler, we relinquished that idea. Our next endeavor was to obtain a large sized sun glass. The general introduction of lucifer matches had rendered this article obsolete, and so we asked everybody if they knew of anybody who was the owner, in fee simple, of an old-fashioned sun-glass. Here fortune favored us, and after a few inquiries and considerable negotiation, we succeeded in dispossessing a boy of a veritable sun glass, for a sufficient consideration.
The rest was easy of accomplishment, and with the judicious employment of pocket knives, tacks, paste, and the division of labor, a cigar box was soon transformed into a camera. Our sun glass was mounted in a paste-board tube, and made adjustable. The rear end of the cigar box being left open, we made a frame to fit, over which we pasted a paper rendered semi-transparent by an artistical application of a tallow candle. This was our " ground glass." Another frame, or rather a combination of frame-work and a flat piece of cigar box, served for a "plate holder," and was nicely adapted to take the place of the ground glass when removed. A "slide" was not thought of, and as to the "chemical focus," we let that take care of itself, for the excellent reason we did not know of its existence. With a quill and the contents of the ink bottle, we blackened the inside of the camera, tube and all. So far, all was right. After a few trials, we succeeded in so adjusting our tube as to obtain quite a respectable view on the ground glass. Now for a plate. This, which we had deemed to be a matter of small moment, proved to be most difficult.
From preliminary experiments on small pieces, we felt certain we could precipitate a metallic coating of silver from the nitrate, on a copper plate, by the use of moist cream of tartar. But after preparing a copper plate of suitable dimensions, we found we could not produce a coating thick enough to bear the required polishing. A day of repeated trials and failures settled that. We therefore, at the suggestion of our friend, the jeweler, undertook to beat out a five-franc piece. This time we had the tools, and by repeated annealing and persistent hammering, we ultimately succeeded in obtaining the wished for platitude, and the head of the citizen king was extended to hydrocephalic dimensions. Then the polishing was long and tedious: but pumice, scotch gray and rouge did the business. So, after two or three days' labor, we were the proprietors of a complete daguerreotype apparatus—that is to say, of a camera obscura, plate, the requisite chemicals, and two tin cups, to be used respectively for the iodine and mercury.
On the morning of a clear, cloudless day, we set about the first experiment. We called into requisition all the old coats, pantaloons, cloaks, &c. about the establishment, to darken the three windows of our office, leaving an accessible place in one corner of the single back window, whence we proposed to aim our camera. We were much pleased to observe that, the picture on our ground glass was much more distinct than before, though Seth still objected to its being upside down. Our plate being well polished, and affixed to the plate-bolder by a few tacks, we inverted it over tin cup No. 1, containing the iodine. Not daring to admit sufficient light to determine when the gold color was produced, we concluded to make it a question of time. We accordingly exposed it five minutes, and then carefully removing the greased paper frame from the camera previously adjusted, we placed our plate in proper position in its stead, at the same time removing the blacking box cover from the end of the tube. Then came an anxious consultation as to the time required for exposure. Seth thought ten minutes sufficient I, fifteen; and we finally compromised on twelve, and at the expiration of that time we removed it (carefully covering it with a hat to preserve it from any light,) and placed it over tin cup No. 2, containing the scrapings of a piece of looking-glass, gradually heated on the stove. After the plate had "stewed" as long as we thought best we admitted a little light; Seth, raising it up cautiously, took a judicious peep, and protested the picture was there. Well, we removed it—took out the tacks, placed it in the salt and water a few moments, let in more light—when lo! our plate was as clean and well-polished as at first, without a trace of anything. This was a great disappointment, but we immediately set about a new trial, and with no better success. The third time we substituted real quicksilver for our looking-glass scrapings, and warmed the iodine that it might vaporize more readily. Hitherto our great anxiety had been to exclude all light, presuming very naturally that a plate sufficiently sensitive to receive the impression, must necessarily be destroyed by contact with any light, however feeble, Entertaining strong suspicion that hitherto we had. had no iodine on the plate, we ventured this time to admit sufficient light to show us that we had succeeded in producing the desired golden hue. Once more the plate was in the camera, and for twenty minutes we sat down and calculated chances. It was a long twenty minutes, but it ended—our tin cup was again heated up with the real mercury, and iodine on the plate to a certainty.
A regular built picture, by jingo 1" said Seth, as we slipped it into the salt water and admitted the light. Sure enough, there it was. The iodine was slowly clearing off; and as more light was admitted we saw our miniature landscape—that old shed, with its water-stained shingles in the fore-ground, the barn yard and its carts and wagons, and even those horses—a little misty, to be sure—but that white horse was unmistakable. The building in the distance—the church and its steeple, and the leafless trees. There was a dim, hazy look about the horizon, and a sad want of what I have since learned to denominate "aerial perspective;" but Seth said that softening down of the harsh lines was decidedly artistical. To me, it seemed a realization of what I suppose everybody has thought of—the skilful combination of all the elements of that delicate frost work which we see on the windows of a cold morning into the perfect semblance of a real and familiar scene.
After repeated rinsings we dried it on the stove. I confess there was quite a crystalization of salt on the surface, and some streaks, but still there was a picture—to me an inexhaustible source of wonder and admiration. Afterwards I progressed somewhat in the art; adopted new improvements, and took likenesses of learned lawyers, with numberless imposing looking volumes piled on the table beside them sentimental young ladies with guitars in their hands, and beautiful boquets in the back ground; matronly ladies, with pocket handkerchiefs of table-cloth dimensions; children, with staring eyes and cork-screw faces, and love-sick swains who persisted in sitting with a huge hand placed over the region of the heart, and who brought back the picture after a few days because the heart was on the wrong side.
All these, of course, I admired exceedingly—but still, I repeat, there never was anything like that first daguerreotype!
Source: Kingslake, Rudolf, 1974, "The Rochester
Camera and Lens Companies", Rochester NY, Photographic Historical
This is a most complicated story spanning almost 100 years, and I find that it is often difficult to discover what actually did happen, and to sort out the numerous changes of name, and acquisitions, and combinations of companies that went on in Rochester, especially during the period from 1890 to 1905. Small companies would be formed, often by employees from another company, and as often they would fail and their assets would be absorbed by the same or by another company. Companies, too, would be frequently reorganized with larger capital and a new set of officers, with often a different name, and it is hard to decide whether they are the same or a different company. Eastman was particularly good at acquiring a company and then letting it operate for years under its old name, often marking on its products "Eastman Kodak Company, successor to ..." Even locating the address of a company is no real clue to ownership because often three or more companies would occupy the same building.
I must at this point acknowledge the great assistance I have received from Don Lyon in sorting out the various companies and personalities and changes of ownership, and particularly for giving me access to his voluminous records and files. He really should be giving this talk instead of me. I have gained most of my information from the city directories, and also some from the catalog files at the George Eastman House. Although I have found out a lot about the numerous optical and camera companies of Rochester, my records are far from complete, and shall no doubt continue to find out interesting facts for many years to come. If anyone detects an error in my story, I hope they will point it out so that I can get everything correct as far as it goes.
I am very conscious that I should have started this research before the center of Rochester was torn to shreds to make room for the inner loop and the Urban Renewal project. Some streets have completely disappeared, many have changed their names, old buildings have been torn down to make room for parking lots, and it is often hopeless to find out where a company actually was located. This problem has been rendered even more difficult by the renumbering of streets that occurred in 1899 and 1911.
I have deliberately omitted companies devoted primarily to the manufacture of film, printing paper, plate holders, and the like, and more especially to optical companies making only spectacles, which has been a very active business in Rochester over the years. Thus I have omitted reference to companies such as Haloid, Defender, and even Xerox! The two large companies, Bausch and Lomb and Kodak have kept remarkably clear of each other's activities, and it is possible for tine historian to consider them separately, as I have done. The various camera companies were mainly related in some way to Kodak, while the lens and shutter companies were mostly connected with Bausch and Lomb. There have been exceptions, of course, as we shall see. There have also been several companies that have had no connection with either of these giants.
The photo-optical industry in Rochester was born in 1880. In that year Bausch and Lomb began to make photographic lenses; the Rochester Optical Company began to make cameras; and George Eastman began to make plates. However, my story actually begins back in 1853 when J. J. Bausch founded his tiny spectacle business and sat around vainly waiting for customers.
John Jacob Bausch was born in Gross Suessen, Germany, of a poor family, and was apprenticed to a spectacle maker. At the age of 20, in 1850, he decided to emigrate to America, and after a harrowing 49-day journey in a sailing vessel, landed in New York. He proceeded to Buffalo, where there was a cholera epidemic, and after trying unsuccessfully to find work, he moved to Rochester, where again he had the greatest difficulty in finding any sort of employment. He finally, at age 23, decided to set up an optician's shop in the Reynolds Arcade under the name of "J. J. Bausch, Optician". At that time scarcely anybody in this country used eyeglasses, and many people had never even seen a pair, so his sales were almost nil. In 1856, as his trade card shows, his shop was called the "J. J. Bausch Optical Institute."
In his endless struggle to find work, and even to survive, Bausch was greatly helped by a Mr. Henry Lomb, a cabinet maker, whom he probably met at the Turn Verein club. Lomb was born in 1828 and had also emigrated from Germany in 1849. He was a bachelor, and in 1853 decided to join Bausch, where he proceeded to learn the optician's trade, and lodged with the Bausch family, turning over his earnings to them. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Lomb immediately enlisted, and finally rose to the rank of captain. He returned to Rochester in 1863, and in the following year the firm became "Bausch and Lomb, Optician." By then business had improved to the point where they could open a factory at the corner of Andrews and Water Streets. Henry Lomb married in 1865, and in the following year moved to New York to act as the firm's sales agent there. He died in 190S, and because of his many civic activities and particularly his great interest in the Rochester Institute of Technology, a handsome memorial shaft was erected in his memory in 1932 in Rochester. Incidentally, the name of the company was changed to the "Vulcanite Optical Instrument Company" from 1866 to 1876, as this material was being extensively used to make spectacle frames. The name was changed back to the "Bausch and Lomb Optical Company" in 1876. After World War II it became "Bausch and Lomb Inc."
After the Civil War, interest in spectacles rose rapidly, and the company constructed an enlarged factory in 1868 at River and Water Streets, followed six years later by an even larger building at the present location in St. Paul Street, the date 1874 being carved over the door. During the first World War they added a large building in front of the old one. We are now told that the company plans to abandon the entire establishment and move into the old Bond Clothing building on North Goodman Street.
Returning to 1875; at the urging of Bausch's eldest son Edward, the firm decided to branch out into optical instruments, beginning with the microscope for which there was a growing demand. To get started, they hired a temperamental character named Ernst Gundlach, who had previously made microscopes in Berlin and was then living in Hackensack, New Jersey. Gundlach was employed by Bausch and Lomb from 1876 to 1878, but they quarreled frequently and finally separated. The microscope work, however, proceeded successfully under Edward Bausch's direction, and by 1903 they had sold about 44,000 instruments.
Bausch and Lomb added photographic lenses to their line in 1883, and began the manufacture of shutters in 1888. In 1892 they became the only company in America licensed to make Zeiss Anastigmats and other lenses. They also made Compound and Compur shutters by agreement with Deckel. These arrangements were finally terminated in World War I.
Some 1903 statistics are impressive. At that time Bausch and Lomb was making some 20 million spectacle lenses a year, and had manufactured 500,000 photographic lenses and 550,000 shutters. As you know, the company is still in existence with branches in several other cities and abroad, making a wide range of optical and electronic products of the highest quality.
I have mentioned that difficult individual, Ernst Gundlach, who left Bausch and Lomb somewhat unwillingly in 1878. His address at that time was 171 St. Paul Street while Bausch and Lomb were at No. 179, so he lived practically next door to the plant. In 1879 Gundlach was joined by a Lewis R. Sexton, and together they set up and operated an optical goods establishment in their home, while Sexton doubled as a teacher in No. 7 school, later becoming principal of School 17 and then of School 9. Being certain that the optical business was in good hands, Gundlach moved to Hartford, Conn., in 1880, where he lived for the next four years, giving his occupation as "Optician." The following year Sexton moved the optical establishment to 29 Stone Street, where he was joined by two other opticians, J. C. Reich and J. Zellweger. In the 1883 Rochester directory he was listed as "Dealer in Ernst Gundlach's Microscopes and Objectives."
Lewis R. Sexton died in August 1884 after having dropped out of optics, and Gundlach immediately returned to Rochester. He reorganized the business at 29 Stone Street as the "Gundlach Optical Company", with himself, Reich, Zellweger, and H. H. Turner, a machinist, as officers. They claimed in their advertising to be "Sole Manufacturers of E. Gundlach's Microscopes and Objectives." During the next eight years the company occupied several different locations, finally ending up in 1892 at 761 South Clinton Avenue where they stayed until well into the 1930's. In 1889 Gundlach was joined by his son Karl, who lived with him for many years.
Early in 1895, for some reason, Ernst Gundlach left the firm and established a rival company called the "Gundlach Photo-optical Company" at 5 South Water Street, as that building was then being vacated by the Rochester Optical Company. In an advertisement published in the American Journal of Photography, Vol. XV, for August 1895, he stated that "Ernst Gundlach has severed all connections with the old 'Gundlach Optical Company', and we are now the sole owners of his patent of December 9, 1890, under which his celebrated 'Rapid Rectigraphic', 'Perigraphic', and other lenses were so long made." Thus from 1895 there were two Gundlach companies existing independently in Rochester.
Late in 1895, the name of the second company was changed to "Ernst Gundlach, Lens Manufacturers" and in 1896 it was changed again to "Ernst Gundlach, Son, and Co." then at 202 Court Street, the officers being B. W. Fenn, Z. P. Taylor, G. B. Gilbert, and A. S. Gilbert. However, the business cannot have been very successful, for two years later the Gundlachs left the city and moved to Chicago. After they left, the plant was re-named "The Rochester Lens Company," and operated by Fenn and Gilbert. It was finally acquired by Wollensak in 1905.
To return to the original Gundlach Optical Company: In 1895 H. H. Turner was manager, J. Zellweger and J. C. Reich were opticians, and in 1896 they acquired the Milburn Korona Company, which had been founded two years before by Gustave G. Milburn, and so added Korona cameras to their previous line of lenses. In 1896 they began also to advertise shutters, and added the Turner-Reich Anastigmat (U.S. Pat. 539,370) to their lens list. In 1898 Turner was president and manager, Zellweger was vice-president, and Reich secretary and treasurer. In August 1902 the company acquired the Manhattan Optical Company Of Cresskill, New Jersey, and changed the name of the company to the "Gundlach-Manhattan Optical Company." Their building at 761 South Clinton Avenue at various times acted as the home of other companies, including the Rochester Panoramic Camera Company (1905), the Seneca Camera Company (1903-1910), and the Ilex Optical Company (1912-1916).
Around 1926 the name was changed to the Gundlach Manufacturing Company, and in 1928 it was taken over by John E. Seebold, president, and Walter H. Ashby as vice-president, under the strange name of the "Seebold Invisible Camera Company." Seebold left the following year and Ashby became president. They suffered badly in the depression and finally moved to Fairport in October 1935, their old building on Clinton Avenue becoming the Kane Furniture Store. Early in 1954 their remaining assets were acquired by Albert Drucker, of Burke and James in Chicago, and finally re-organized as "Dynamic Optics Inc." with David Goldstein as president. The firm ceased operations in 1972. In 1946 Mr. Turner's son, Donald, founded the Turner Bellows Company which is still in existence at 165 North Water Street, making thousands of bellows a day for Polaroid.
The second company to branch off from Bausch and Lomb was Wollensak. Andrew Wollensak was first employed as a machinist by Bausch and Lomb in 1882, and became a foreman the following year. He helped Edward Bausch with the design of the Iris Diaphragm shutter in 1890, and probably worked on other shutters as well. In 1899 he and his brother John decided to establish a new company for the purpose of manufacturing a line of high quality shutters which could be sold at a reasonable price. The brothers managed to obtain financial help from Stephen Rauber, former president of the Union Brewing Company in North Clinton Avenue, and the new company, Rauber and Wollensak, was established in a building at 280 Central Avenue. Mr. Rauber died in 1901, and the name of the firm was then changed to the Wollensak Optical Company. The following year Wollensak commenced the production of lenses as well as shutters. The famous 'Optimo' shutter was designed by Andrew Wollensak in 1909, and was sold extensively until 1930. The company purchased the Rochester Lens Company in 1905, thereby obtaining the right to manufacture the 'Royal' anastigmat line developed by that company.
Andrew Wollensak senior, president of the company since its foundation, died in January 1936, his brother John having died three years earlier. John left five children, of whom Andrew A. and Frank J. remained active in the business for many years, and I knew them both. In 1913 the company moved to 1415 Clinton Avenue North at Norton Street, and in 1924 to 872 Hudson Avenue. In 1938 a larger and more desirable building a few yards to the south, at 850 Hudson Avenue, fell vacant (it had been a clothing factory), and Wollensak moved into it. Unfortunately, during the past 15 years, after several changes of ownership, including Revere and 3M, the company gradually went downhill and in 1972 finally closed its doors.
Wollensak was one of Rochester's finest companies, and at their height in 1958 they had over 1200 employees. Their lenses, shutters, and other products were considered to be excellent, and during the war they made a wide variety of optical equipment for the armed forces. It is too bad that they could not manage to survive.
The next offshoot from Bausch and Lomb was Ilex. In 1910 two Bausch and Lomb shutter designers named Rudolph Klein and Theodor Brueck (the latter had designed the "Volute" shutter in 1902) invented the revolutionary and extremely important shutter delay mechanism involving a rotating gear and a rocking pallet (U.S. Pat. 1,092,110). This device for the first time enabled a shutter to be made which would be accurate independently of temperature and other atmospheric conditions.
Klein and Brueck decided to leave Bausch and Lomb and set up their own business, which was called the "XL Manufacturing Company", to manufacture the new shutter. They were aided financially by a wholesale jeweler named Morris Rosenbloom, and they set up their first factory on his premises at 156 Main Street East. However, they soon discovered that C. P. Goerz was also making a line of so-called "X excel L" shutters, so to avoid confusion they twisted the letters around and renamed their shutter the "Ilex," and in 1911 the firm was called the Ilex Manufacturing Company. Very soon after, Friedrich Deckel of Munich sought permission to use their delay mechanism on a royalty basis in the famous line of "Compur" shutters, which proved to be a considerable financial help to Ilex.
From 1912 to 1916 the company, now called the Ilex Optical Company, occupied space in the Gundlach building at 761 South Clinton Avenue; in 1917 they moved to 724 Portland Avenue, and eventually in 1930 to 690 Portland, where they are today. In 1921 they tried the experiment of setting up a separate lens factory at 814 St. Paul Street called the "Acme Optical Company," but it lasted only a couple of years.
One of the major contributions of the Ilex company was the invention of a self-contained internal flash synchronization mechanism during World War II. This was designed by Alfred Schwartz, and the idea has, of course, been incorporated in all shutters by all manufacturers since that time.
Ilex has suffered many ups and downs in prosperity over the years. The first president, Morris Rosenbloom, died in 1935 and was succeeded by his son Rufus as president and E. C. Roland as vice-president. Roland died in 1942, and after the war the company's fortunes sank to a low ebb. Finally, in 1963, their remaining assets were acquired by two young Elgeet employees, Eugene Miller and Manuel Kiner, and today the company is thriving with over 200 employees, and having to increase its factory space to keep up with the demand for its products.
Talking of Ilex reminds me of Elgeet. The Elgeet Optical Company was founded by three young men who had been boyhood friends: Mortimer A. London, then a lens inspector at Kodak, with David L. Goldstein and Peter Terbuska of Ilex. (The firm's name is an acronym of L, G. and T). In 1946 they began by leasing some machine tools to make lens-polishing machinery, and with this they set up shop in an Atlantic Avenue loft, where they did all their own lens manufacture, packaging, and selling.
By 1952 the firm had grown sufficiently to enable them to purchase a former clothing plant at 838 Smith Street. At that time Goldstein was president, Terbuska was secretary, and London treasurer. The company prospered and with nearly 300 employees they manufactured thousands of lenses for small movie cameras and many other applications.
London left in 1960, and in 1962 the firm acquired ownership of the ancient establishment of Steinheil in Munich, but they soon sold this, I believe to Lear Siegler. In 1964 there were difficulties at stock-holder's meetings, and the firm was reorganized with Alfred Watson as president. Two years later the assets of the company were acquired by MATI (Management and Technology Inc.), who acquired Turner Bellows at the same time. MATI survived only until 1969, when they disappeared. Goldstein purchased the remaining assets of the former Gundlach Manufacturing Company in Fairport and reorganized it under the name "Dynamic Optics Incorporated," but this also ceased operations in 1972.
So much for Bausch and Lomb and their daughter companies. We will now turn our attention to the camera business initiated by William H. Walker, who came to Rochester in 1880 and set up as "Wm. H. Walker and Company", at 79 Exchange Street. (He must not be confused with James T. Walker Of Palmyra, who made the Takiv camera ten years later). In 1882 Walker joined with W. H. Reid and J. Inglis to make dry plates, a business continued by Inglis for several years. In 1883 Walker gave up making cameras, and the "Rochester Optical Company" was established by W. F. Carlton to take over his assets. Meanwhile, in January 1884 Walker joined Eastman to make the Eastman-Walker Roll Holder, and the following year he became secretary to the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company. Shortly after this he was sent to England as Eastman's representative in that country.
The new Rochester Optical Company was located at 9 and then 11 Aqueduct Street, near the four corners in Rochester, and at first they continued to make some of Walker's cameras. They soon added new models of their own, their most successful innovation being the "Premo" line, introduced in 1893 and continued for almost 30 years. In 1890 the plant was moved to 5 South Water Street, and early in 1895 to its final home at 45 South Street, the building being still in existence.
In 1891, H. B. Carlton, brother of W. F., decided to set up a rival company in the old building at 13 Aqueduct Street, which he called the "Rochester Camera Manufacturing Company," making Poco cameras. This became the Rochester Camera Company in 1895, at that time located at 29 Elizabeth Street, and finally in 1897 the Rochester Camera and Supply Company.
In 1899 five camera companies decided to join forces to form the "Rochester Optical and Camera Company." They were: the Rochester Optical Company, the Rochester Camera and Supply Company, the Ray Camera Company, the Monroe Camera Company, and the Western Camera Manufacturing Company of Chicago. The new combined company occupied the R.O.C. building at 45 South Street. In spite of this union, their products retained their old names of Poco, Premo, Ray, and Cyclone, The officers of the new company were W. F. Carlton, manager, with H. B. Carlton, B. E. Chase, and F. P. Allen. Unfortunately the new combined company was not a success and lost as much as $100,000 a year, so in 1903 their entire assets were acquired by George Eastman for $330,000, and their name was changed back to the Rochester Optical Company. In 1907 it became the Rochester Optical Division of the Eastman Kodak Company, and in 1918 the Rochester Optical Department. The factory at 45 South Street became Kodak's Premo Works from 1912 to 1921, after which the name was finally abandoned and the building sold.
In describing the formation of the Rochester Optical and Camera Company, I mentioned two small companies that were included, namely, the Ray and the Monroe. The Ray company was founded by two men named Mutschler and Robertson. In 1893 Albert Mutschler was a toolmaker and John A. Robertson a foreman at the Photo Materials Company on St. Paul Street. The following year they decided to organize a machinist and model-making establishment at 177 West Main, and in 1895 they commenced the manufacture of "Ray" cameras at that address. This was apparently successful, and in 1898 they moved to 204 Commercial Street and renamed the company the "Ray Camera Company." With the amalgamation of the five companies in 1899, the two partners became superintendents, but Mutschler left in 1903 to become once more a machinist. Robertson stayed on with the new Rochester Optical Company and in 1904 was elected vice-president in charge of manufacturing operations.
The Monroe Camera Company, named after Monroe County, was incorporated in 1897 with a capital of $25,000, the president being Fred A. Sherwood, the vice-president Albert Beir, and the secretary-treasurer Charles V. Case. Sherwood was a leather dealer at 108 Mill Street; Beir had been a camera manufacturer at 21 North Water Street for about a year previously; and Charles Case was a bookkeeper. His son Charles Z. Case became an Eastman employee and was responsible for the "Bantam" film development in the 1930's. The Monroe Camera Company occupied a building at 48 Stone Street, but it lasted only three years before being absorbed in the Rochester Optical and Camera amalgamation.
The third part of my story is that dealing with George Eastman and the Kodak Company. This story has been so well documented that it is probably known to you all, but nevertheless it may be worth summarizing the principal facts briefly In 1878 George Eastman was a young 24-year-old assistant bookkeeper at the Rochester Savings Bank at Main and Fitzhugh Streets. He lived with his widowed mother at 49 Jones Avenue. Having been urged by a friend to take up photography, he purchased a wet-plate outfit and took lessons from a photographer named George H. Monroe living in Main Street. However, gelatin dry plates were just coming into use at that time in England, and Eastman determined to use them even though it meant that he had to make his own. In 1879 he took a trip to London, where he obtained some further recipes and incidentally patented a plate-coating machine of his own invention. His plates were so satisfactory that in 1880 he rented a loft on the third floor of a building at 101 State Street, where he began to make dry plates for sale. His principal outlet was E. and H. T. Anthony in New York, who agreed to take all the plates he could make. During this time he continued his employment at the bank, doing all his photographic work in the evenings. Incidentally, Eastman's former teacher George H. Monroe, in an 1880 advertisement, claimed that he used dry plates in all his photographic work. In 1882 Monroe also started to make dry plates for sale, at 282 State Street, and continued this business until he left the city in 1888 and moved to Jamestown. The building was then occupied by Frank Brownell until 1892.
To return to George Eastman, he soon found that he needed money for expansion, so on January 1, 1881, he formed a partnership with Henry A. Strong, a buggy-whip manufacturer and a family friend. This was known as the Eastman Dry Plate Company, with Strong as president and Eastman treasurer. They soon had six employees, and were so actively engaged in the plate-making business that Eastman at last decided to leave the bank and devote all his time to photography. The plant was moved to its present location at 343 State Street in 1883. The toll building on that site was erected in 1914, and the top three floors added in 1930.
In 1884 Eastman began making a flexible film on a translucent oiled paper base for use in the Eastman-Walker Roll Holder, and the company was incorporated as the "Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company", with a capitalization of $200,000. There were 14 shareholders. In the following year, a stripping film on a paper base was introduced. After processing, this was soaked off and transferred to a temporary glass support, and a sheet of clear gelatin was then soaked and squeegeed against the delicate negative, and after drying it was peeled off the glass for printing. Finally, in 1889, a transparent film on a cellulose nitrate base was produced and patented by Eastman and his chemist Henry H. Reichenbach. This completely supplanted the earlier stripping film, and was adopted by Edison for his early motion picture experiments. I have not time to go into the fantastic Goodwin patent suit on the invention of transparent film, which is fully described in Taft's book "Photography and the American Scene." The suit ran for 27 years in the courts and in the Patent Office, and it was finally settled in favor of Goodwin. In 1889 a new corporation was organized, capitalized at one million dollars, called simply "The Eastman Company."
Of major interest to this group, the first "Kodak" camera was announced in June 1888. The wooden body was made here by a Rochester cabinet maker named Frank Brownell, and the metal parts by Yawman and Erbe. The lens was probably made by Bausch and Lomb. Based on the success of this camera, the name of the company was changed once more, in 1892, to "The Eastman Kodak Company" of New York, with a capital of 5 million dollars; and in 1901 it was reorganized for the last time as "The Eastman Kodak Company of New Jersey," with a capital of 25,000,000 dollars. Eastman set up the Camera Works under Brownell's direction at 333 State Street in 1892. It was moved out to Elmgrove Road in 1968.
Eastman's success over his many competitors was mainly due to massive advertising and an excellent sales organization with world-wide affiliations, to which must be added his uncanny knack of hiring the right people, and anticipating what would best please the public.
Eastman acquired a few other camera companies, including in 1898 the Blair Camera Company of Boston, the American Camera Manufacturing Company of Northboro, Massachusetts, and the Photo Materials Company of Rochester. He moved all three companies, with some other smaller outfits, into the PMC building in St. Paul Street, near Driving Park Bridge. In 1911 the building was named "Hawk-Eye Works" after a line of cameras made there by Blair. The Kodak lens department was moved there from Camera Works in 1913 which has since filled the whole building plus several additions. The building is still in use at 1447 St. Paul Street; it was vastly expanded during World War II.
In 1903 Eastman purchased the Rochester Optical and Camera Company, renaming it the "Rochester Optical Company", where Premo cameras continued to be made until 1922 when that name was abandoned. In 1905 he acquired Folmer and Schwing, as we shall see. Eastman died in 1932 at the age of 78. Soon after we came to Rochester, in 1929, we were fortunate enough to be invited to one of Mr. Eastman's Sunday afternoon musicales, probably because of our connection with the new Institute of Applied Optics at the University. He appeared only briefly at the end of the evening. I saw him again shortly before his death while he was on a visit to the University.
Of the various companies taken over by Eastman I should like to discuss three, namely, the Photo Materials Company (PMC); Folmer and Schwing; and the Century Camera Company. The Photo Materials Company was incorporated in 1892 by Henry M. Reichenbach, a chemist who had been working with Eastman for several years on the development of cellulose nitrate film; Gustave D. Milburn, a camera maker; and S. Carl Passavant, another chemist.
Milburn had opened his camera factory at 11 Aqueduct Street when the Rochester Optical Company moved out, and in 1891 the rival Rochester Camera Company also found space in the same building. Milburn gave up his business in 1892 to help found PMC, and he served as salesman there for a couple of years. However, in 1894 when PMC gave up making their Trokon and Trokonet cameras, Milburn left and started his second camera company at the foot of Platt Street. Here he developed the line Of "Korona" cameras, and in 1895 changed the name of his firm to the Milburn Korona Company. This company was acquired by Gundlach in 1896 and Milburn either died or left the city.
Photo Materials Company manufactured a variety of sensitized photographic materials including "PMC Bromide Paper" and "Azo" paper, both of which were retained by Eastman after he acquired PMC in 1898. The company was finally merged with Eastman in 1902.
Although Henry Reichenbach was a chemist, he evidently had a great interest in cameras, for in 1896 he left PMC and joined with John E. Morey, of the Rochester Cut Sole company, and Albert Will, manufacturer of stoves and ranges, to found a company to make "Alta" cameras; this was located in a building at 323 University Avenue. Reichenbach was president, Morey treasurer, and Will secretary of the new enterprise. I must explain that at that time University Avenue went along what is now Atlantic Avenue, the eastern end of the present University Avenue being a cul-de-sac with trees down the middle, called Culver Park. In 1897 Culver Park was cut through to join Culver Road, and the whole street was then called University Avenue, as it is today. The old road was renamed Atlantic Avenue but it was not renumbered, so that 323 University Avenue became 323 Atlantic Avenue. Two years later, in 1899, much of the city was renumbered, and Atlantic Avenue was numbered from the junction, so the Reichenbach Morey and Will building became 59 Atlantic. It was all one building with numbers 61 and 65, and indeed the three numbers seem to have been used somewhat interchangeably.
In 1891 a man named Louis J. Vogt, who had operated the Vogt and Klippert machine shop and model-making establishment at 151 State Street, left to become an optician at Bausch and Lomb. He later joined Reichenbach, Morey and Will as a foreman. Apparently there was dissension within the company, because in 1899 he and Mr. Morey decided to start a separate company called the Vogt Optical Company at 146 North Water Street. The following year (1900), Reichenbach, Morey and Will was disbanded and the Vogt Company moved into their building, along with the Rochester Lens Company and the Century Camera Company. The Vogt Company survived only one more year, but the Rochester Lens Company lasted until 1905 when it was acquired by Wollensak, and Century in 1903 moved to 12 Caledonia Avenue (now 154 Clarissa Street). The building at 65 Atlantic Avenue was apparently occupied by other firms until 1909 when the Crown Optical Company moved in and occupied it until 1912. The building is still standing but terribly run down.
The Century Camera Company was founded in 1900 by three former employees of the Rochester Optical Company, namely, J. M. Walmsley, president, G. E. Mosher, and G. J. MacLaughlin. They first occupied space at 65 Atlantic Avenue along with Vogt and the Rochester Lens Company. In 1903 their stock was acquired by George Eastman and the company was moved to 12 Caledonia Avenue. In 1905 the Century Company took over the Rochester Panoramic Camera Company, maker of the Cirkut camera, which had been patented in 1904 by Johnston, Reavill, and Brehm. In 1907 they became the Century Division of Eastman Kodak. They were merged into Folmer Graflex, but the name "Century" continued to exist until 1920.
In 1887 William F. Folmer and William E. Schwing entered into partnership to establish a bicycle company in New York City. The company was incorporated in April 1890 as the "Folmer and Schwing Manufacturing Company." Because of the general association of bicycles and cameras at that time, the company gradually added cameras to their line, probably made first by Scovill and Adams. Their 1896 catalog shows a "4 x 5 Cycle Graphic camera" on the back page; this sold for $25 with a Victor shutter and Rapid Rectilinear lens. They also listed regular "Graphic" cameras in three sizes up to 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches, costing $50.
Mr. Folmer was an inventor, and in 1898 he built the first Graflex camera. This had a complicated focal-plane shutter with a variable aperture, but it gave so much trouble that in 1904 he changed it to a simple cloth curtain with a series of apertures of different widths, leaving the user to select the one required for any given exposure. This arrangement proved to be highly reliable, and it was manufactured for over 60 years.
In April 1905 the Folder and Schwing Manufacturing Company was purchased by George Eastman and brought to Rochester, where it was installed in the building at 12-14 Caledonia Avenue. This building had been previously occupied by the Rochester Camera Company, in 1898, and by the Century Camera Company since 1903. In 1907 the company became the Folmer and Schwing Division of Eastman Kodak Company, and in 1917 the Folmer-Century Division. Mr. W. F. Folmer continued as general manager until 1926.
In 1926, as a result of a court order, the Folmer-Century Division of Eastman Kodak Company was offered for sale, but no buyers appeared. So finally the Folmer Graflex Corporation was organized to take over the assets of the Division. Mr. Nelson Whitaker became president and general manager in 1928, and his son Gaylord C. Whitaker succeeded him in 1949. The company became known as "Graflex Inc." in 1945.
Business was bad during the depression of the 1930's, and the payroll dropped to less than 100 employees. However, things gradually improved and we learn that by 1957 there were 760 employees. The best known product of the company was for a long time the "Speed Graphic", a solid reliable camera that was the work-horse of the press photographer; indeed, it almost became his badge of office. Numerous other models have, of course, been made over the years.
In August 1956 Graflex became a division of General Precision Equipment Corporation, and in July 1957 the plant was moved out to 3750 Monroe Avenue, near Pittsford. The company became the Graflex Division of the Singer Corporation in 1966, and it is now known as "Singer Education Systems", engaged in making audio-visual equipment.
Besides the three main divisions of photo history that have been discussed, there have been a number of other companies, not all small, that have had no connection with the larger companies. Chief among these is the Sunart Photo Company that became Seneca.
The Sunart Photo Company was founded in 1893 at 1 Aqueduct Street, and it continued in that location until 1899. They made a novel magazine camera, but it was not particularly successful, and in 1899 its assets were acquired by a vigorous group of men who were establishing the Seneca Camera Company at 248 Mill Street. The new company was incorporated in 1900 with a capital of $25,000. The first officers were Frank T. Day, a superintendent at Kodak Camera Works, president; William C. Whitlock, vice-president; and Lorin E. Mason, a hardware merchant at 348 State Street, secretary and treasurer. The new company quickly became established as one of the most successful camera manufacturers in the country.
In 1900 Seneca moved to 160 Court Street, and in 1903 to the Gundlach building at 761 South Clinton. In 1910 they moved again to the Woodworth building at 299 State Street, and in 1917 to Central Avenue where they occupied several locations. In 1924 the company was sold to Conley, then a wholly owned subsidiary of Sears Roebuck, and Seneca disappeared from the city in 1926.
In late 1901 or early 1902, Seneca absorbed the Bullard Camera Company of Springfield, Massachusetts, when Edgar R. Bullard, the founder, returned to his original home at Wheeling, West Virginia. The 1902 Seneca catalog carries these words: "Successor to Sunart Photo Co. and Bullard Camera Co."
As a personal note, my father in London used a 4 x 5 Bullard magazine camera for many years. It was equipped with a Koilos shutter and a Voigtlander Collinear lens, which must have been added later as that particular shutter was first made about 1906. My own first camera was a 4 x 5 folding Seneca with a Wollensak "Uno" shutter. I acquired it in exchange for a set of box tops of the cereal called "Force" about 1912, and I used it regularly until one day I could not resist taking the shutter to pieces, and in the process a wire spring flew out and I never found it again. The shutter was useless without it, and so also was the camera. I still have a number of glass negatives made with that early Seneca.
This company was founded in 1906 by A. H. Hatmaker, president, and A. E. May secretary-treasurer, to manufacture lenses. They first occupied a building at 484 Clinton Avenue South, and moved to 65 Atlantic Avenue in 1909, to 299 State Street in 1912, and finally to 203 State Street in 1917. They disappeared in 1919 at the close of World War I.
One of the few Rochester companies that has apparently existed by itself and free from any alliances or encumbrances is the Projection Optics Company. It was founded in 1918 by William H. Repp, at 203 State Street, and in 1930 it was moved to its present address at 330 Lyell Avenue. Its principal product is a line of projection lenses for professional motion picture projectors. The company was acquired in the 1960's by Beseler of New York, but it remains a largely autonomous organization to this day, after being in existence for 56 years.
Probably the least known of the Rochester camera companies was Gassner and Marx. The founders were Benjamin Marx, president; James Rothschild, vice-president; and Henry Gassner, secretary-treasurer. The company occupied rooms in the Cox building at 36 St. Paul Street in 1898, and it was incorporated in that year. They manufactured the "Day Plate Camera", a box camera containing a special magazine in which a folded strip of black paper carried a series of separated 3¼ x 4¼-inch glass plates (Pat. Sept. 6, 1898), permitting daylight loading. The arrangement was described in Scientific American for October 8, 1898. The company and all its officers left the city during the following year (1899).
The Movette was an unusual negative-positive motion picture system using a special 17 1/2 millimeter film, with two perforations to a frame on each side. The frame size was 11 x 14 mm, and a special Kodak film was supplied in cassettes holding 50 feet which ran for two minutes. The hand-cranked camera retailed for $30 and the projector for $55, a packet of film costing $1.50 with another $1.50 for a positive print. The inventor of the system was a Mr. Frank L. Hough of Chicago.
The Movette Camera Company was organized in Rochester in 1916, and was first located at 1155 University Avenue. In November 1917 it was incorporated as Movette Inc., with a capital stock of $1,250,000, and the plant was moved to 545 West Avenue. In 1920 they moved again to 295 State Street, the building later occupied by the Photostat Corporation. The chairman was then Homer Strong, the secretary W. F. Strang, and the president was Howard Strong, secretary to the Rochester Chamber of Commerce. In 1921 Howard Strong moved to New York, and Homer Strong took over the presidency. In 1922 the company moved to 101 North Water Street, and by 1927 it had disappeared.
In spite of everything, the Movette had little appeal to the public. Possibly the need for a separate positive print may have been one reason. Certainly the Kodak 16mm reversal system announced in June 1923 proved to be infinitely more successful and quickly replaced all other systems.
These early types of document copying cameras using sensitized paper in a large camera, with a prism in front of the lens to reverse the image, must be included in my story although they have now practically disappeared.
The Rectigraph company was founded in Rochester in 1909, and after occupying a few places was moved to its final location at 282 Hollenbeck Street in 1921. In 1937 it became the Rectigraph Division of Haloid; in 1958 of Haloid-Xerox; and in 1961 the company was merged into the Xerox Corporation. Obviously, with electrostatic copying working so well the old type of photocopier using wet processing quickly became obsolete.
The Photostat Corporation was incorporated in Rhode Island in 1911, and the company set up an office and factory at 299 State Street, Rochester, in 1921. In 1956 they moved out of town, to 1001 Jefferson Road in Henrietta, and in 1963 it was absorbed by Itek and is now known as "Itek Business Products." Undoubtedly the old familiar type of Photostat machine has disappeared forever.
Besides Kodak, Bausch and Lomb, Ilex, and Projection Optics, there are Tropel of Fairport, making very high quality lenses (now owned by Coherent Optics of California); Anson Instrument Company and Anstron Optical Company in the former Wollensak building on Hudson Avenue; Planar Optics making prisms of all types; Stefan Sydor Optics; Dorn Optics in Webster; Fresnel Optics on Mount Read Boulevard making high precision molds for Fresnel Lenses; JML Optical Industries (was Precision Optics); and several smaller companies. The optical center of America is no longer in Rochester, but spread between Boston and Los Angeles.
Rudolf Kingslake, the author of numerous books on lens and optical design, has spent his lifetime designing and teaching about lenses and optics. Born in London, England, he moved to the United States in 1929 to help establish The Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester. In 1937 he became head of the lens design department at Eastman Kodak. He returned to the University of Rochester upon retiring from Kodak.
In his honor, the annual Rudolf Kingslake Medal and Prize is presented by The International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE) in recognition of the most noteworthy original paper to appear in Optical Engineering, the SPIE journal on theoretical or experimental aspects of optical engineering.
In addition, Mr. Kingslake is an honorary member of the Optics Society of America (OSA), an honor that can only be bestowed once per year, and the number of honorary members cannot exceed 1/1000 of the total OSA membership.
Mr. Kingslake is also a lifetime fellow of the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE).
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