Print ad for the Ray Camera Company published in The Photo-Miniature, a Monthly Magazine of Photographic Information
I found this historic print advertisement for the Ray Camera Company, located at 220 Center Street in Rochester, New York, in The Photo-Miniature, a Monthly Magazine of Photographic Information, volume 1, published April-June 1899.
The ad says, “Ray Cameras are unequalled (sic) for Style, Quality, and Price.”
Rochester, New York was a powerhouse center of what Rudolf Kingslake called “the photo-optical industry” (1). Kingslake tells us the industry begin meekly in 1853 when German immigrant John Jacob Bausch established a spectacle business. That eyeglass business would go on to become Bausch and Lomb, a world leader in photographic optics and lenses.
By the turn of the century, Rochester was ground central for the photographic industry, with dozens of notable companies manufacturing cameras and optics, including Eastman Kodak, Graflex, and The Photo Materials Company.
Among the list was the Ray Company, located at 220 Center Street in Rochester, an address that seems to no longer exist. In his 1974 book, A History of The Rochester, NY Camera and Lens Companies, Rudolf Kingslake lamented that by the time he wrote his history, many of the old locations were lost to urban renewal, street renaming and renumbering, and demolition to make room for parking lots or new highways.
The Ray Camera Company of Rochester
The Ray Camera Company was founded in 1895 by Albert Mutschler and John A. Robertson. Mutschler had been a machinist and tool maker, and Robertson had worked at the Photo materials Company. Their first address was at at 177 West Main, but they moved to 204 Commercial Street in 1898 (1).
According to Kingslake, the Ray Camera Company was merged in 1899 with four other companies to form the Rochester Optical & Camera Company, which was later purchased and absorbed in the Eastman Kodak Company. Kingslake never mentioned the Ray Camera Company having been located at the 220 Center Street address featured in their ad shown above.
Sources and Links
- Kingslake, Rudolf, 1974, “The Rochester Camera and Lens Companies”, Rochester NY, Photographic Historical Society.
- Historic Camera, “Ray Camera Company,” http://www.historiccamera.com/cgi-bin/librarium2/pm.cgi?action=app_display&app=datasheet&app_id=1300