WThe New York Public Library  /  Photographers’ Identities Catalog
PIC ID: 265910

American Optical Co.

American, active 1869-1984

No Gender (Business or Collective)

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In 1833, William Beecher began making eyeglasses in a shop in Southbridge, Massachusetts. His company took on various other partners, and other names in the subsequent decades before incorporating in 1869 as the American Optical Co. By 1872 they company had built a new factory there and employed 400. In addition to producing eyeglasses and lenses, they made cameras and photographic apparatus which were available through the Scovill Manufacturing Co. In 1908 the company had grown to 1,700 employees, all of whom were locked out in retaliation for unionizing. All but 250 of them had returned to work within a week, and all but a few holdouts were eventually rehired. But the animousity was great, and in January, 1904 four men were arrested for cutting the telephone wires of the company, and three others arrested for planning their escape from jail. The next day, armed guards with orders to shoot to kill guarded the plant after an unsigned note was sent threatening to dynamite the factory.In 1945 the company acquired the Spencer Lens Co. of Buffalo, New York.This company is evidently not the company which manufactured cameras for the Scovill Manufacturing Co.

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Found in collections


American Optical Co. has 1 location.

Active in (1869-1984)

Southbridge, MA