Henry Clay Stereoscopic Camera, 1892-99
American Optical Company, Scovill & Adams Co., props., NY.
Copyright ©2003 by Rob Niederman - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
In a review of the camera in the 1892 issue of the American Annual Of Photography And Photographic Times Almanac, Henry Clay Price,
described the allure of stereoscopic photography:
The "Stereoscopic" was offered with a Prosch Triplex Pneumatic Release shutter from 1892 to 1897. In its last two years of production,
1898 and 1899, the camera was offered with double rectilinear Lenses fitted in a Bausch & Lomb Stereoscopic Shutter or Unicum
The camera shown here is the later 1898 - 99 model with a Bausch & Lomb Stereoscopic Shutter. The front focusing rails have two sets
of ivory focusing scales for stereo pair or single lens configurations. The 1898 price of $80 is equivalent to about $1,650 in year 2000
currency; a somewhat expensive camera that only serious amateurs and professionals could afford.
The American Optical Company introduced the Henry Clay
Stereoscopic Camera in 1892, one year after the original
Henry Clay Camera and possibly one year ahead of the No.5
Folding Kodak (1893 improved model fitted with a
stereoscopic lens board). As such, the Henry Clay
Stereoscopic is historically important as the first self-casing
stereo camera from which other companies based their
Built along the same design philosophy as the original Henry
Clay Camera, the "Stereoscopic" was constructed of highly
polished mahogany and brass trim with a red leather bellows.
Although the 5 x 7 inch format was the only advertised size, a
5 x 8 inch model was available as a special order item in 1896.
The "Stereoscopic" is rarer than the Henry Clay Camera and
has fewer advertising and catalogue references. Based on
early engravings and a few known examples, the Henry Clay
Stereoscopic Camera body design was available in a sliding
bed (1892) and hinged, drop bed designs.
It is commonly known that of all pictures, those which are arranged to give the stereoscopic effect when viewed in a
stereoscope, convey the true impression of perspective and solidity. It seems strange, indeed, that of the myriads of
instantaneous pictures made, so few are taken with reference to their future use in connection with the stereoscope, for it
is only by that means that the idea of animated life can be conveyed. I can only assign as the reason the present almost
universal use of hand cameras, and that none of them have, up to this time, been arranged for stereoscopic pictures.