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W & W. H. Lewis Manufacturers of Daguerreian Equipment

datasheet_loginWilliam Lewis senior along with his son William H. Lewis, claimed to have made the first cameras, coating boxes, mercury baths and head rests for business in America. They were first used, in 1840, by Walcot and Johnson in the first daguerreotype room in the city of New York on the corner of Broadway and Chambers Street. A daguerreotype image from Walcot and Johnson sold for five dollars and were in great demand.

In 1843, William and William H. Lewis continued to make photographic apparatus on the corner of Elizabeth and Hester Streets and served daguerreotypists throughout the country.

Note that William Lewis Sr. had two other sons in addition to William H. Lewis. Richard A. Lewis was a prominent daguerrotypist and another son, H. J. Lewis also worked for the firm. A daughter, Jennie, married Alonzo J. Drummond, another Daguerrian photographer. Other family members of William Lewis also participated in the business. Grandsons William H. Lewis, II and Frank S. Lewis, and indent-in-law, Bradford Johnson continued various parts of the business beyond 1900.

In 1846 W & W.H. Lewis expanded and moved to 142 Chathman street.

In 1851, The Lewis' introduced what is believed to be the first commercial camera to incorporate a folding bellows (US patent no. 8513, 11 Nov. 1851), which was reputed to have been made from Mrs. Lewis' black taffeta dress. It was the first commercially produced bellows camera in the United States. On June 16, 1851 the daguerrian Journal described the camera improvement as :

Messrs. Lewis are never behind the times; no sooner has a new fashion come out, than they are out as well with something new to keep pace. these camera boxes are, when closed, less than half the usual length, in bellows form, and are decidedly neat and practicable. We like then much, and our Daguerreotypists are demonstrating their opinions by their orders. We shall illustrate this box by a cut into a future number.

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