Anthony & Scovill Company

The story of Ansco begins with the founding in 1802 of the Scovill Manufacturing Company in Waterbury, CT. In the early years they produced brass buttons, sewing hardware, and other brass and copper items. The factory was formerly a grist mill on the Mad River at Silver Street.

In the fall of 1839, James Mitchell Lamson Scovill and William Henry Scovill of the Scovill Manufacturing Company started the first production of silvered daguerreotype plates in the United States. J.M.L. Scovill was quoted as saying in December 1839, "This Frenchman here says the plates cannot be made in the U.S. and he calculates to make a fortune by importing them from France. We will try to disappoint him."

By 1840, after implementing manufacturing improvements and switching to higher quality copper imported from England, Scovill produced plates equal to those shipped from Paris.

In 1846, Scovill opened a store in New York City to accommodate the growing demand for daguerreotype products, carrying a full line of hardware and photographic supplies. It soon became the leading photographic supply depot in the country.

In 1867, The American Optical Company was acquired as a division of the Scovill Manufacturing Company. The American Optical Company manufactured box cameras, stereoscopes, and photographic accessories, and had developed an international reputation due to the high quality and low cost of its products.

In 1889, an officer of Scovill took over the company, and the name was changed to Scovill & Adam's.

Meanwhile in 1842, Edward Anthony, a Columbia College graduate and civil engineer who had studied photography with Samuel Morse opened a Daguerreotype gallery in New York. Five years later, he opened a separate shop devoted exclusively to photographic supplies. Sales grew rapidly and he ceased operations in the original gallery. Edward’s brother Henry T. Anthony joined the business in 1852. The Anthony factory was located at New York City's Harlem Rail Road Depot, occupying a quarter of the building. At the time, this factory was the most extensive apparatus and photographic material manufacturer in the world.

In 1862, the firm’s name was changed to E. & H.T. Anthony in acknowledgement of Henry Anthony’s contribution to the company.

In 1883, E. & H.T. Anthony produced the first commercially manufactured instant hand camera, called the Schmidt Patent Detective Camera.

In 1901, the E. & H.T. Anthony Company merged with Scovill & Adam's. The new company was called Anthony & Scovill Company, which was soon shortened to Ansco.

Sources:      1. Anthony's photographic bulletin – via Hathi Trust      2. "Anthony, E. & H. T." – via Harvard University.  (digitized photos)      3. "Illustrated Catalogue of Photographic Equipments and Materials". E. & H.T. Anthony & Co. 1897.      4. Current, Ira. ANSCO Reminiscences Broome County Historical Society Newsletter, Spring 1995.      5. Ollinger, James. A Brief History of Agfa, Ansco and GAF Cameras.     6. About Ansco. February 07, 2008.