Patented in 1851 (US 8513), at the end of the daguerreotype era - by
W. Lewis (father), W. H. Lewis (son). This was probably the first camera
to employ a folding bellows, which was reputed to have been made from
Mrs. Lewis' black taffeta dress. The Lewis factory was briefly located
on the Quassaick Creek, near New Windsor, New York, appropriately known
as Daguerreville. The firm soon returned to its former quarters at 142
Chatham Square in New York City. Son, H. J. Lewis also worked for the
firm, while another son, Richard A. Lewis was a prominent Daguerrian
artist. A daughter, Jennie, married Alonzo J. Drummond, another Daguerrian
photographer. Other children of William Lewis also participated in the
business. Grandsons William H. Lewis, II and Frank S. Lewis, and son-in-law,
Bradford Johnson continued various parts of the business beyond 1900.
The Lewis family were the largest manufacturers of Daguerrian equipment,
at the time, until eclipsed by E. and H. T. Anthony, whose company later
became ANSCO and then GAF. They also had the most US patents for photographic
equipment, in that era. Patents included the first bellows camera, (US
8513), the adjustable (Lewis) lens (US 8590), the first lantern slide
projector and photographic enlarger (US 371,252), and numerous improvements
in plate holders, camera tripods (US 336,815; 629,379),, posing chairs
(US 119,090), stereo viewers (US 165,241; 168, 652; 170,749; 201,804),
specialized cameras (US 307,965; 342,211; 342,212; 349,133; 360,314;
372,856; 386,996), camera shutters (US 359,797; 367,986; 372,857; 437,655),
and many more.
The Daguerre process was neither positive nor negative (according
to Beaumont Newhall) but both. It became one or the other depending
on how its mirrored surface was viewed. The daguerreotype process is
a. polishing a thin sheet of silver, plated on copper;
b. sensitizing the plate by exposure to iodine vapor;
c. exposing the plate in the camera (for several minutes);
d. bringing the image up by exposure to mercury vapor;
e. fixing with hyposulfite (a step added later following the discoveries
of Sir John Herschel; f. washing with water and drying.
The greatest single source of published LEWIS information is from William
and Estelle Marder's book, "ANTHONY, the Man, the Company, the Cameras",
which has a section on the LEWIS family.
Other LEWIS cameras are also in the collections of The Greenfield Museum,
Dearborn MI; and the collection of Matt Isenberg, of CT. Other LEWIS-manufactured
apparatus is at the George Eastman House, Rochester, NY.
R. L. (Robert) Protzman, gg-grandson of Henry John LEWIS contributed
to the information above.