Seneca Camera Mfg. Co. was a camera maker based in the American photography capital Rochester, New York. The company was founded at the end of the 19th century. Its chiefs were the former superintendent at Kodak Camera Works Frank T. Day, president, William C. Whitlock, vice-president, and Lorin E. Mason. They bought the assets of the Sunart company which was not very successful. Seneca itself managed to get a larger share of the American camera market. It made a series of simpler cameras for everybody, mainly the Scout series of box cameras and rollfilm folders. And it made several big view cameras like the Seneca View, Competitor, plate box cameras like the Kao Sr., and folding bed plate cameras like the the No. 29 Pocket Seneca, the Black Beauty and the Seneca Chautauqua. Of course Seneca put some products into other popular market segments, for example the Vest Pocket Roll Film Seneca Camera.

The name of the company was derived from the name of the Seneca-Iroqois Red Indians. A county in the state of New York was already named after them. Many ads and advertising brochures of the company showed Indians as eye-catchers.

In 1901 the company had rooms in the fifth floor of the Leary Dye Works, a brick building at the corner of Platt and Mill Street. In spring a fire destroyed the house were 25 Seneca employees were working. Many were rescued, some by workers of Bridgeford's machine shop who managed to find large pieces of canvas on which they could catch people who were jumping out of the windows of the burning house. The damage for Seneca was 40,000 US-Dollars, uninsured. [from New York Times, March 2, 1901]

The company also made tripods, darkroom equipment, and adapters to use film packs on plate cameras.

In 1924 the company was sold to Conley which was wholly owned by Sears & Roebuck at that time. Seneca disappeared in 1926.

photography related industry in Rochester (New York)
American Camera | Bausch & Lomb | Blair | Century | Crown Optical Co. | Elgeet | Folmer & Schwing | Gassner and Marx | Graflex | Gundlach | Ilex | JML | Kodak | Milburn | Monroe | PMC | Ray | Reichenbach, Morey and Will | Rochester Camera and Supply Co. | Rochester Optical Co. | Seneca | Sunart | Walker | Wollensak
and in Rochester (Minnesota)
external links - Rudolf Kingslake's
"Optical industry in Rochester (N.Y.)"


Film plates[]

  • Seneca Press
  • Chautauqua (folding bed camera)
  • Chautauqua Jr.
  • Kao Sr. (box camera)
folding bed cameras[]
smaller plate and film sheet formats[]
  • Pocket Seneca No. 30, 3¼×5½" (postcard format)
  • Pocket Seneca No. 31, 3¼×4¼"
  • Box Filmette, 2¼×3¼" or 3¼×4¼" or 3¼×5½" (film packs)
  • Black Beauty, 3¼×5½" (postcard format)
larger plate formats[]
  • Seneca 8 (folding bed camera)
  • City View
  • Columbian View
  • Competitor View
  • Magic View
  • Seneca View, 5×7" or 6½×8½" or 8×10"
  • Improved Seneca View


The rollfilm brand sold in conjunction with Seneca's rollfilm cameras was Eastman Vulcan film:

Kodak No. 120 (?) 116 130 (?) 118 (?), 124 (?) 122 (?), 125
Vulcan No. 210 232   236, 248 244, 250
camera size code 1, 2 1A, 2A 2C 3 3A
frame size 2¼×3¼" 2½×4¼" 2 7/8 × 4 7/8 " 3¼×4¼" 3¼×5½"