While my main collecting focus is on cameras and lenses, I also enjoy collecting photographic ephemera, including early invoices - also known as billheads. Below are some examples:
The Scovill Waterbury lens is a simple two element landscape lens, produced from 1881 to the turn of the century and was the primary lens sold on Scovill's inexpensive amateur view cameras. Given the long production run, this is one of the more common antique lenses found in the marketplace today. The most common size was sold as "B", which was fitted to 5x7 and 5x8 cameras. Less common is the "A" lens for 4x5, "BB" for whole plate cameras and "C" for 8x10 cameras.
Early versions were nickel plated and featured waterhouse stops that were inserted inside the front of the barrel and were held in place by tension provided by a round spring. Brass examples were with these type of stops were also produced - presumably a few years later. This type of Waterbury lens was produced from 1881 to about 1887. In 1888, Scovill produced the Waterbury lenses with an attached wheel with stops of varying apertures. This prevented the user from losing the insertable round stops. Lenses featuring wheel stops were sold from 1888 until about the turn of the century.
Earliest version Waterbury lenses (stereo and single)
Brass version of the Waterbury with insert-able stops
Later version Waterbury Lens
Most Waterbury Lenses sell in the $ 100 to $ 250 range depending on condition, size and if the original flange is present.
For those of you who have even a passing interest in Daguerreotypes, I highly recommend reading Sean Nolan's FREE ebook, "Fixed in Time."
Sean has spent countless hours documenting and dating Daguerreotypes and has produced a very valuable research paper that helps collectors and historians more accurately date the oldest form of photography. This can be downloaded for FREE via dropbox. Please note you do NOT have to join dropbox to download. Click on the image of the book below, then click the DOWNLOAD button. If Dropbox asks you to sign up, just click NO THANKS, and you will be able to download the pdf file.
CLICK TO DOWNLOAD BOOK
Below is a recent addition to my collection, a business card from William F Hardy of Hartford, CT. Hardy is recorded as being active in 1854 and 1855 on John Craig's Daguerreian Registry.
Hardy is also recorded as having won a silver medal for "best Daguerreotypes in crayon style" at the Hartford State Fair in 1855.
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The New York father and son team of William and William Henry Lewis were early pioneers in the photographic equipment industry. In fact, many members of the Lewis family were involved in photography from its inception through the turn of the century. The Lewis clan hold many photographic patents including Patent # 8181 from June 24, 1851 for “Fastening Pedestals to Columns.”
Click to see the full patent
What was actually patented was a feature found on what would become known as Lewis’ Jenny Lind Table. In short, Lewis designed a nifty twist and lock system for its table column and base. This would make it quick and easy to put the table together (or apart) by separating the column from the base with a mere twist of the column. The table was described in this 1852 Lewis advertisement:
“JENNY LIND TABLES,
By the application of various tops can be converted into Laides’ or Gentlemen’s Toilet Tables, Lamp Stands, Artists’ Easels, Reading, Writing, and Music Desks, Ladies’ Work Stands, Fire Screens, &c., &c.”
Jenny Lind was a famous Swedish singer who toured the US in 1850, managed by PT Barnum, and just caused a sensation - read more about her here at this link.
The text in the patent further defined aditional applications Lewis saw for their product, including those for photographic use:
Essentially, Lewis designed and produced a solid cast iron pedestal with a detachable fluted column that held a rod that could be fitted with different [table] tops which would serve many purposes including photographic applications. As such, the Jenny Lind Table (usually with a round top) is frequently seen in Daguerreotype, CDV, Tintype and other 19th century images. The table was a place for the subject to lean on to gain stability and/or add compositional balance. In most 19th century images, the table is commonly found with a fancy tablecloth draped over it, but many times the table was left bare by the photographer. This very practical table could easily be raised or lowered and could be broken down quickly – making it a staple of the photographers studio.
In the 1852 book, Photography: A Treatise on the Chemical Changes Produced by Solar Radiation, and the Production of Pictures from Nature, by the Daguerreotype, Calotype, and Other Photographic Processes By Robert Hunt NY Published by S. D. Humphrey, 1852; the table is illustrated with the following text:
Below are some images of a Jenny Lind Table from a 2015 Ebay auctions courtesy of seller wwolst12 (sold for $ 2,620). This example is fully original and features a rectangular top. These very detailed images show what a beautiful product Lewis brought to market. We also see that the wooden table top was covered with a Rosewood veneer – identical to Lewis’ Daguerreotype cameras. Note the beautiful bronze finish to the cast iron. Unfortunately, many of the extant examples are found with the columns and base painted; with green being a common color.
This photos shows the locking mechanism that was one the features of Patent # 8181.
The other significant photographic use for Lewis’ column and pedestal was as a head rest or head clamp. Instead of a rod with a wooden table top, this product featured a rod with a head clamp and a larger base and column. The same 1852 book illustrates Lewis head rest with the following text:
While many other posing aids and head-rests ("clamps") were made by other makers through the end of the century, the Lewis product is the most popular and highly sought after. Complete and original examples of posing tables and head-rests continue to climb in value. Currently, most are in the $ 1,500-2,500 price range.