Search Database

Translate this page

  Thomas Blair

Thomas Henry Blair was born in 1855. He become one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the American photographic industry of the late 1800s, along side George Eastman (kodak) and W. F. Carlton (ROC).

Blair was a farmer until around 1873 when he emigrated from Nova Scotia, Canada, to southwestern Massachusetts to become a traveling tintype Photographer.

In 1878 Thomas H. Blair founded the Blair Tourograph Company and incorporated in Connecticut to produce the tourograph camera and system which was a portable wet collodion system that folded into a box and could be carried like a suit case for photography. The camera was produced by the American Optical Company, a division of the Scovill company.

In 1881 Blair broke his ties to Scovill manufacturing and moved his manufacturing to 471 Tremont St., Boston Massachusetts. He incorporated his business as the Blair Tourograph & Dry Plate Co in Massachusetts.

In 1884 Blair entered the detective camera market with the successful Boston detective camera.

Around 1885 Blair introduced the Lucidiograph after 2 years of personal design. The name meaning "light writer" in greek. The Lucidiograph was similar to the Tourograph, where it folded into a convenient box for carrying. However Blair patented the design in 1887.

In 1889 Blair began to acquire essential assets to support a full product line of photographic equipment, including the purchase of the Green Point Optical Company

in the 1890's Thomas Blair formed several companies to manufacture and sell cameras, film and photographic goods for the popular amateur market in order to compete with George Eastman's photographic company. He was in many patent wars with Eastman and proved to be a strong force in marketing. He made allies with Samuel Turner of the Boston Camera Company and acquired the company and the hawk-eye line. Blair opened agencies in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Cincinnati, and elsewhere.

In 1891 Blair began the commercial production of celluloid roll film purchased from the Celluloid Company of New Jersey. His company quickly became the primary flexible celluloid film source for W.K-L. Dickson and Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope.

Also in 1891 Due to a significant investment by Rhode Island textile magnate, Darius L. Goff, Blair launched the production of the Kamaret roll camera to compete with the kodak.

In 1892 Blair developed a daylight loading camera, as well as a complete line of photographic dry plates, supplies and accessories.

in 1893 the company experienced losses of important patent suits to Eastman, and arguments among the financiers of the company led to Blair's removal from management. Thomas Blair moved to London England and established the European Blair Camera Company, with offices in Holborn and manufacturing facilities in Foot's Cray, Kent.

in 1896 Blair formed the American Camera Manufacturing Company and produced Buckeye cameras. He also formed the American Camera Company, a marketing firm in Northboro, Massachusetts.

In 1899 Goff gained control of the Blair Camera Company and sold it to Eastman to recoup his losses.

On April 4, 1919 Thomas Henry Blair died in Northboro, Massachusetts.

# 424
2012-12-11 05:46:29

Return to Previous Page
Return to the History Librarium

Copyright © 2002 - 2019 Historic Camera