Ansco Chronology

(From a Binghamton, N. Y. point of view)

Compiled and Edited by William L. Camp

1896

The Wescott Photo Specialty Company at 170 Washington Street manufactures photographic paper (Monarch Brand). Melvin DeVer Westcott is the owner.

1900

E. & H. T. Anthony & Co. of New York City acquires the Westcott Paper Co. in Binghamton and moves paper production there. Its name is changed to the Monarch Paper Company.

City directory lists Monarch Paper Co. at 29-31 Charles Street, H. Fred Hoefle, manager.

1901

July: E. & H. T. Anthony & Co. acquires controlling interest in Goodwin Film & Camera Company of New Jersey.

December: Anthony & Scovill Company is formed from the merger of E. & H. T. Anthony & Co. and the Scovill & Adams Co.

1902

December: Production of Goodwin roll film begins at the Charles Street building.

December: Goodwin Film & Camera Company files suit against Eastman Kodak Company for patent infringement.

1905

April: The Columbia Photo Paper Company of Westfield, Mass. is acquired by Anthony & Scovill. Its equipment is moved to Binghamton and continues producing Cyko printing paper.

April: First mention is made of moving the camera works (American Optical) in New Haven, Conn. to Binghamton, but an adequate building cannot be located.

1906

November: the International Time Recording (ITR) building on Water Street in downtown Binghamton becomes vacant and is considered a potential site for the camera works. Negotiations break down and Anthony & Scovill continues looking for another building.

1907

September: A serious fire causes about $15,000 in damage to the Anthony & Scovill facilities on Charles Street. Three workers are severely burned by the fire.

Anthony & Scovill is planning to combine all its operations in Binghamton. The fire forces the company to move up plans to demolish the older wooden buildings and replace them with larger, more fire-resistant brick or concrete block buildings.

September: Anthony & Scovill name officially changed to Ansco Company. Offices are at 424-438 Mutual Security Building, Binghamton, N. Y.

President: T. W. Stephens
1st Vice-President: G. W. Topliff
2nd Vice-President: C. B. Stanbury
Secretary: A. C. Lamoutte
Treasurer/Manager: F. R. Wyckoff
Assistant Treasurer: A. Deichelmann 

G. W. Topliff and A.C. LaMoutte are credited with devising the new name of the company.

October: Ansco files a first mortgage of $170,000 on company property to secure an issue of bonds not to exceed $500,000.

October: Goodwin Film and Camera Co. of New Jersey acquires 5 lots on Jarvis Street adjacent to the existing Ansco facilities.

1908

December: Frank H. Wyckoff, Ansco treasurer and general manager, resigns to start another photographic supply business called the Bingham Company. George W. Topliff is named to replace him at Ansco.

1909

January: Plans are announced to move the Jersey City, N. J. chemical plant to Binghamton.

June: Another fire at the Charles Street plant caused by an exploding barrel of chemicals. Use of a fire hose in the building keeps damages to $200.

October: Two more lots on Jarvis and Charles Streets are purchased for the planned addition to house the new chemical works.

November: William A. Clock, a local real estate agent, representing the Ansco Company acquires 7 more properties for the addition.

1910

May: Frank Payne purchases the Marshall Furniture Company plant in Lestershire (Johnson City), New York. His plans for the building are not disclosed. The 60x300 foot building is described as one of the best constructed factories in the Southern Tier. It is made of concrete with a fire protection system which made it nearly fire-proof. Also it was adjacent to the railroad. A week later, Ansco acquires the building from Payne.

July: Ansco announces the New Haven Camera Plant will be moved to the Lestershire building.

September: First load of machinery arrives from New Haven for installation in the new plant. The first workers also begin arriving and take rooms in local hotels and boarding houses.

September: A building permit is granted to build a $50,000 60x320 ft, 3 story factory at 21-23 Charles Street.

October: Camera production begins at the Lestershire plant. 


1911

March: To aid the YMCA's Community Bazaar, Ansco exhibits a display of photographic masterpieces previously shown at the Milwaukee Photographer's exhibition. The exhibit weighs three tons, takes six wagons to move it, and cost $5000. The works of local photographers are also displayed.

November: Ansco sets up an elaborate exhibit at the first Binghamton Industrial Exhibition displaying company products and photographs.

1912

January: Clarence Stanbury, 2nd VP of Ansco, sails to London to open a branch there.

September: Plans are made to re-locate company offices from the Security Mutual Building to the Lester Block at the corner of Washington and Henry Streets.

1913

August: US District Court at Buffalo finds Eastman Kodak Company guilty of infringement of Hannibal Goodwin's patent for photographic film.

December: An additional building at the Lestershire Camera Works is planned to house office functions.

1914

March: US Circuit Court of Appeals upholds Ansco (Goodwin) patent on photographic films. Eastman Kodak company agrees to pay Ansco $5,000,000 for patent infringement. (Note: The exact amount of the settlement is kept secret by both sides. Newspaper estimates vary between $2,000,000 to $22,000,000.) The actual amount is closer to $5,000,000.

March: Work begins on a $15,000 addition to the eastern end of the camera works. This section will house offices, a large drafting room, a brick fire tower, and a vault to hold $100,000 worth of camera dies. Ansco plans to double the number of workers to 600 after the modifications.

April: Ansco distributes approximately $2,000,000 of the infringement suit proceeds to stockholders.

June: Two Ansco employees make the largest negative in the world. The 17 feet long, 16 inches wide image of Atlanta, Georgia, is taken from the top of a smokestack on the Walton Building. S. W. Whiteman and S. L. Brownie climb to the top of the smokestack and take a panoramic view of the skyline of Atlanta. The resulting photograph is exhibited at the next Professional Photographers' Association Convention.

June: Ansco purchases a new Garford two-ton delivery truck. It's the first truck of its type in use in Binghamton.

August: The addition to the camera plant is finished.

1915

January: Ansco purchases a four-story building on Charles Street from the Sturtevant-Larrabee Company for use as a warehouse.

October: Due to increased demand for its products, Ansco begins two shift operations at its Charles Street facilities.

November: Parents of three students request their children be transferred from the Jarvis Street School to the Helen Street School because of the danger from potentially explosive materials in the Ansco buildings. The Jarvis Street School is located directly north of the Ansco factory complex. Ansco denies any explosive materials are used in the building closest to the school. Ansco offers to buy the school for $20,000 but the school board wants $40,000. (Note: Eventually Ansco acquires the school and uses it for personnel functions.)

November: Ansco announces plans to build a five-story building on Lewis Street between State and Washington for administrative offices and shipping rooms. The building is projected to cost $100,000 with construction beginning in the summer of 1916.

1916

April: A majority of the Ansco company stockholders approve a resolution changing the principal offices of the company from NYC to Binghamton.

June: Ansco awards a contract to York Manufacturing Co., York, Pa. to enlarge the refrigeration plant in Factory 10. The ice is used to cool the air of rooms where photo supplies are manufactured and stored.

October: The Afton Development Company begins construction of a large plant in Afton, New York. Its purpose is a closely kept secret. It consists initially of seven buildings, including a power plant, with fifty workers. It is built on approximately ten acres of land owned by Ansco General Manager, G. W. Topliff. The Afton Development Company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Ansco Company.

1917

June: Ansco reduces its ten-hour work day to nine hours. Official working hours for Monday through Friday are 7 a.m. to 5 p. m. with an hour for lunch at noon. Saturday hours are 7 a. m. to noon.

1919

May: G. W. Topliff formally announces the opening of the $1,000,000 Afton Plant. Its purpose is to manufacture film base (cellulose nitrate) for use in the Binghamton plant. Dr. F. C. Axtell is assigned as the general manager. The company decided a more reliable source of film base was needed to meet an increase in film production in Binghamton. However, the plant was in use for only three years. The buildings were demolished in 1935 to reduce the tax assesssment on the property.

October: The Ansco Athletic Association is formed. Every Ansco employee is eligible for membership. All athletic or recreational activities are free to each member of the association.

1922

March: T. W. Stephens resigns as Ansco President to be closer to his business interests in New York City. He is named Chairman of the Board. Fellow board membe Horace W. Davis becomes President of Ansco.


1924

January: Ansco announces the Automatic Ansco. Designed by Carl Bornmann, the Automatic Ansco used a key-wound spring motor to advance the film when the shutter is released. It sells for $75.

January: Ansco Company changes name to Ansco Photoproducts, Inc. The change is made so that the company name will identify the type of products it manufactures.

President: Horace W. Davis
Vice-President and Treasurer: George W. Topliff
Vice-President (London): Clarence B. Stanbury
Secretary: John S. Norton
Assistant Treasurer: C. E. King
Assistant Secretary: William R. Gough

October: Ansco announces the Semi-Automatic Ansco. A less expensive version of the Automatic Ansco with a separate lever on the left side for advancing the film. The shutter release is separate. It sells for $40.

December: Ansco offers the Vanity Camera, a small all-metal camera available in six colors: Apple Green, Dove Gray, Deep Rose, Flame Rose, Sapphire Blue, and Sunset Orange.

1927

Ansco purchases the American Photo Products Company of Verona, New Jersey. Acquires a special coating machine used to produce Ansco's first x-ray film in 1928.

1928

January: George W. Topliff, Vice President and Treasurer of Ansco Photoproducts, Inc., announces he is resigning to work for the Faultless Rubber Company of Ashland, Ohio. He began working for Anthony & Scovill on February 1, 1905. His leaving may have some connection with following item.

January: Ansco merges with Agfa.

"Horace W. Davis, president of Ansco Photoproducts, Inc., of this city today announce the successful conclusion of negotiations affecting that company and Agfa Products, Inc. and Agfa Raw Film Corporation, which are marketing the photographic products of I. G. Farbenindustrie of Germany, known as Agfa Products. The plan contemplates the formation of a new corporation to take over the business and the manufacturing and selling organization of Ansco and the two Agfa Corporations, and will also obtain the benefits of the research work of the Agfa interests. To accommodate the sales expansion program contemplated in the United States, extensive additions will be started at an early date and will include the most modern photographic film production unit in the world. The new company will be under the active management of the present Ansco organization with headquarters at Binghamton." (Binghamton Press, Jan. 20, 1928.)

February: Planning for the $2,500,000 expansion of the Ansco facilities is begun in the New York offices of architect and engineer Otto S. Schlich.

March: First meeting of the directors of the new company elects Horace W. Davis president of Agfa Ansco Corporation.

Vice presidents: Walter Lenger, Carl Bornmann, Rudolph Worch, John S. Norton, Sherman Hall. Treasurer: Rudolph Worch.
Secretary: Otto von Schrenk.
Assistant Secretary: C. E. King
Board of Directors: Walter H. Bennett, William C. Breed, Horace W. Davis, A. W. Erickson, L. F. Loree, Albert Rothbart, Richard H. Swartout (All former directors of Ansco Photoproducts, Inc.), Ernest Friedlaender, Wilhelm Lohoefer, Kurt Oppenheim, Walter Lenger (to be general production manager), Herman A Metz (president of General Dyestuff Corporation), Almuth C. Vandiver, attorney, Otto von Schrenk, and Paul M. Warburg, banker.

May: Agfa Ansco purchases the old Sturtevant-Larrabee wagon and sleigh plant on the south end of Hudson Street. The buildings will be demolished and replaced by a new warehouse.

May: Ground is broken for the newAgfa Ansco film plant. The 628 feet by 157 feet, steel and concrete building is to be constructed by Turner Construction of New York and Buffalo. The main part will be four stories high with a center section of eight stories. At the time, this is the largest building in Binghamton.

1932

November: Horace W. Davis resigns from Agfa Ansco.

1935

July: A flood on the Chenango River causes considerable damage to the Ansco film plant. (Note: A large section of the city of Binghamton is also flooded.).

1936

March: Agfa Ansco is awarded a Class II award (Plaque) by the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences for their development of Agfa infra-red film.

1937

Superpan Press Film is released, first American ultra-high-speed sheet film.

August: Construction starts on a new four-story building on Charles Street to house laboratories and administrative offices.

August: Agfa Ansco acquires the former General Cigar Company building on Emma Street in Binghamton for about $300,000. This building was originally built in 1928 by the General Cigar Company to manufacture White Owl cigars. Agfa Ansco announces this building will become the camera works plant.

August: Agfa Ansco begins discussions to sell or lease the Johnson City camera works plant to Ozalid Corporation of New York. The building will be vacant once the camera production equipment is moved to the Emma Street plant.

1938

The new camera plant on Emma Street is put into operation.

March: Agfa Ansco is awarded an Oscar by the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences for Agfa Supreme and Agfa Ultra Speed pan motion picture film.

June: 176 acres in eastern Broome County are purchased to create an employee recreational area named Agfa Lake (a.k.a. Ansco Lake, a.k.a. GAF Lake).

1939

Agfa Ansco sets up an exhibit at the New York World's Fair in the Communications Building.

October: Agfa Ansco's holding company (American I. G. Chemical Corporation) is renamed General Aniline & Film Company (GAF).

December: Stockholders agree to a merger between Agfa Ansco Corporation and the General Aniline & Film Company. Agfa Ansco becomes a subsidiary of GAF.

1941

December: After the US enters the war, the US government seizes Agfa Ansco as enemy property and places Treasury agents in company offices to supervise operations.

1942

Camera production is stopped and replaced by manufacture of sextants, range finders, and other optical devices for the war effort.

Ansco color film is introduced. It is the first American color film which can be processed by the user. Ansco color paper is also introduced. Unfortunately, no film or paper is available for the amateur market. All production is directed to the government.

February: GAF (and Agfa Ansco) is taken over by US Treasury Dept.

April: GAF is transferred to the office of Alien Property Custodian (APC). Albert E. Marshall is appointed to the GAF Board and becomes executive head of Agfa Ansco.

June: Agfa Ansco publishes a book of photographs of American views. "Scenic America" contains photographs taken during travels by Ernst Schwarz, former President of Agfa Ansco.

July: The 100th anniversary of the company is formally celebrated with a dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

December: Albert Marshall resigns as head of the Ansco Division of GAF. He is replaced by G. Harrison Echols as GAF VP in charge of Ansco.

1943

July: Albert Marshall resigns from GAF. He is succeeded by George W. Burpee.

1944

January: Agfa is dropped from the company name and the company is again known as Ansco. The company adopts a patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme for its film packaging.

March: Ansco employees awarded the Army-Navy "E" Award for meritorious service in war-time production.

September: A second Army-Navy Production Award is presented to Ansco.

1945

January: Echols is replaced by E. Allen Williford as head of Ansco.

December: Ansco announces return to amateur camera production. Nine models are planned, seven are updated versions of pre-war cameras: Cadet, Clipper, Viking "63", Speedex Junior, and Speedex "45." The two new models are on opposite ends of the price spectrum, the all-plastic, inexpensive Panda and the all-metal precision-built twin lens reflex, the Ansco Reflex.

1947

April: Jack Frye, former President of TWA, is named chairman of the Board of GAF.

September: New coal-fired power plant begins operation.

1948

January: C. Evan King, Ansco treasurer, retires after 45 years with the company. He started with Anthony & Scovill in 1903 in New York City.

February: A record of 150,989 units for the month is set by the Camera Plant. Over 2 million cameras are produced during the year.

September: Ansco announces three new roll film cameras: Ansco Titan, Ansco Standard f/6.3 Speedex, and Ansco Flash Clipper.

1949

September: New improved Superpan Press Film is released.

Ansco purchases 44 glass plate negatives taken in Mathew Brady's Washington gallery . The negatives are discovered in a barn in Owego (Tioga County), New York. Ansco makes prints from the negatives and uses the images in advertisements and traveling exhibits.

1950

February: Craftsman Camera Kit is available. A box camera can be assembled from the parts in the box. (Note: So simple a child can put it together, assuming the child is proficient in the use of razor blades, etc.). Actually, this kit was designed to help reduce the company's inventory of unsellable camera parts.

1951

October: Five new Ansco cameras from Agfa Camera Works, Germany are announced: Ansco Karomat, Ansco Speedex 4.5, Ansco Speedex 4.5 Special, Ansco Viking 4.5, and Ansco Viking 6.3.

1952

March: Ansco Film Division of GAF receives a Class III award (Certificate) from the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences for development of the Ansco color scene tester.

November: Ansco introduces the Viking Readyset Camera (another Agfa camera).

1953

January: Ansco announces two new cameras made by Agfa in Germany: Ansco Speedex Special "R" and Ansco Regent.

March: Ansco Film Division of GAF receives a Class I award (Oscar) from the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences for the introduction of Ansco color scene negative and Ansco color print film.

1954

March: Five new cameras added to Ansco's camera line: Anscoflex, Super Speedex f/3.5, Super Regent, Memar, and Karomat f/2.8.

November: Anscoflex II camera is introduced. Same as Anscoflex except for addition of a built-in closeup (portrait) lens and a built-in cloud filter.

1955

January: Ansco announces Ansco Super Regent LVS, the first camera in America offering the Light Value System.

1956

September: Ansco places Anscochrome on the market. With an Exposure Index (E.I.) of 32, it is three times faster than existing color films.

1957

Super Anscochrome film is introduced. It is described as the world's fastest color film with an E.I. of 100.

May: Ansco purchases 25 acres of land on the Vestal Highway (south of the river) for a new Administration Building.

1958

April: Two new cameras are introduced: Ansco Lancer and f/2.8 Super Memar.

1960

New Ansco Administration Building in Vestal, N. Y. opens.

Ansco begins selling Anscomark M, a 35mm camera imported from Japan (Ricoh Model 999).

October: Ansco's Building No. 1, the original site of Ansco's film production in Binghamton, is demolished.

1961

Anscochrome FPC-132, a special, high speed, reversal film designed for the space program, is used to record Alan Shepard's face during his sub-orbital flight.

1962

October: Congress passes a bill to permit the sale of GAF.

1963

Ansco begins selling the Anscoset II camera made by Minolta in Japan.

1965

March: GAF stock sold to the public.

1967

March: Anscochrome 500 35mm film is introduced.

General Aniline and Film Corporation changes its name to GAF.

1970

October: GAF film becomes the official film of Disneyland and Disney World.

1977

July: GAF withdraws from the consumer photography market and ceases consumer film production in Binghamton. 1100 jobs are eliminated. GAF continues production of graphic arts, x-ray, and aerial films.

1978

GAF sells Ansco trademark name to Haking Enterprises Ltd. of Hong Kong. The name is used on cameras sold by Ansco Photo-Optical Products Corporation, a division of Haking.

1981

July: Andlinger & Co. creates Anitec Image Corp. to buy GAF Corp.'s graphic arts business. Gerhard H. Andlinger buys the business for $40 million.

1987

September: International Paper buys Anitec for $265 million.

International Paper buys ILFORD Photo and forms the Ilford/Anitec Group

1990

International Paper buys graphic arts business of the Cookson Group Plc. Cookson, Ilford, and Anitec are consolidated as the Imaging Products Division.

1992

August: The 55-year-old coal fired power plant is shut down. A modern natural gas- powered  generator began operation a month earlier.

September: Anitec celebrates its 150th Anniversary (1842-1992).

1995

December: International Paper reorganizes its Imaging Products Division. It considers closing the Binghamton operation but decides otherwise.

1996

February: International Paper consolidates its Imaging Products Division in Binghamton.

1998

February: Kodak Polychrome Graphics (Eastman Kodak Co. and Sun Chemical) purchases International Paper's Horsell Anitec Unit.

June: Kodak Polychrome announces it will close the plant by the end of the year. 550 jobs are eliminated by December.

1999

October: Kodak Polychrome sells the 33 acre site to Brandenburg Industrial Service Co. They will demolish the existing 40 buildings and market the cleared property for development.

2000

April: Brandenburg Industrial Service Co. begins demolishing the former Anitec (Ansco) facilities to clear the land for development. Work continues through the spring of 2001.

2002

May through February 2002: The Binghamton Welcome Center at the Roberson Museum and Science Center hosts an exhibit: Ansco: Cameras, Community & Construction. (Nice exhibit, I'm sorry you missed it.)

Now (2011 and counting...)

 

References:

Binghamton Daily Press

Binghamton Morning Sun

Binghamton Republican-Herald

Jenkins, Reese V. Images and Enterprise: Technology and the American Photographic Industry. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1975.

Marder, William and Estelle. Anthony the Man the Company the Cameras. Pine Ridge Publishing Company, 1982. (The absolute best reference on the history of the company, especially the early years.)

The Reflector, monthly publication of the Agfa Ansco Athletic Association. In Jan. 1947 became Ansco employee paper. Became Ansco News, Feb. 1957.

Ansco Dealer: 1914, 1923, 1924, 1925.

Wentzel, Dr. Fritz. Memoirs of a Photochemist. Philadelphia: American Museum of Photography, 1960.

The Rainbow, GAF employee magazine, started May 1943.

The Ansconian, Ansco magazine for professional photographers, formerly Agfa Diamond.

 


Orig. Version: 12 March 2004
Latest Revision: 29 March  2011
© Copyright 2004-2011  William L. Camp. All Rights Reserved.