Prior to and during the Civil War, the Anthony company of Waterbury, CT, manufactured photographic equipment. Sometime in the last half of the 1800’s it merged with the photographic division of the Scovill company, another manufacturer of camera equipment. The new company was called ANSCO.
The horizontal style folding rollfilm ANSCO camera pictured above was manufactured about 1905. This amazingly compact, well-made, wood camera delivered surprisingly large 4 x 5 negatives on Ansco #10 rollfilm. It was a versatile camera. Photographs could be taken on standard rollfilm, special "focusing" Vidil rollfilm, or on standard glass plates when fitted with the accessory dry plate attachment.
The Ansco No. 6 and a few similar Ansco models are historically interesting for their ability to accept Ansco Vidil Focusing Film, or Vidil film for short. Vidil film may be the most unusual form of rollfilm ever manufactured. A roll of Vidil film consisted of alternating sheets of film and viewing screens, for a total of 12 each per roll. The viewing screens were made of a translucent parchment-like paper. Cameras capable of loading Vidil film required a special camera back. But the Vidil back did not preclude the use of standard rollfilm. Two sizes of standard Ansco No. 10 rollfilm fit this camera. Size 10A produced 6 exposures per roll and size 10B, 10 exposures.
The camera pictured belonged to Murray Theodore Pearson, the Grandfather of company owner James Drum, and is in his care today.