Scovill was primarily as a distributor of photographic equipment and supplies, but in the 1860s acquired the American Optical Company which at that time owned the manufacturing facilities of Nelson Wright, John Stock, and C.C. Harrison, all famous names on their own. American Optical became the manufacturing division of Scovill and produced all of the Scovill cameras, as well a separate line of somewhat higher quality equipment under the American name.
From the 1840s through 1900, Scovill and the Anthony company followed parallel lines of growth, and each was the others major competition. Much of their professional and amateur equipment had similar features, and most designs were introduced by one, or the other, to directly compete against a similar piece of gear.
In 1899, one of the officers of Scovill took over the company, and the name was changed to Scovill & Adam's, and in 1902, the firm merged with E. & H.T. Anthony becoming Anthony and Scovill.