Take a Look Through the Lens

The object for this week is a camera from the late 1800s to early 1900s. The owner was Harry Terwilliger and it was donated by Mrs. Virgil B. DeWitt. The camera is made of wood, leather, brass, and glass. It is a rectangular box with two buttons on each side to open. The accordion viewer has brass supports with a small area at the front to view. There are two levers—one on top and one at the side. The opening in the back is where the film would be placed. The maker’s markers on the camera reads “Manufactured by ‘Monroe Camera Co. Rochester, NY USA.'”

camera 2

The Monroe Camera Company started in 1897 by Fred A. Sherwood (President), Albert Beir (Vice-President), and Charles V. Case (secretary-treasurer). The company was a success. Fred Sherwood was a leather dealer, Albert Beir worked as a camera manufacturer, and Charles Case was a bookkeeper. Their backgrounds allowed them to produce some of the best cameras of the day. Although the company was only in business for three years before merging with The Ray Camera Company that forming the Rochester Optical and Camera Company, their bestselling camera was the Monroe No. 2 pocket camera line.

The Monroe No. 2 pocket camera was a unique camera design. It was designed by Silas French and co-patented with Albert Beir in 1897. It holds a brass cartridge for two 3.5 x 3.5” plates of a quarter inch thickness.

camera 4

camera 3


Kingslake, Rudolf. “The Rochester Camera and Lens Companies.” 1974. Photographic Historical Society.
Monroe Camera Company History.” Historic Camera History Librarium.
Pocket Monroe No. 2.” Camerapedia.


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