View Full Version : Need Info on Holmes, Booth & Haydens No. 1763

4-Sep-2017, 15:48
First off, thank you for letting me join the group! Second...my apologies for asking the wrong question earlier...

Now...I am sort of an antiques dealer but my focus is more on antique oil lanterns...whale oil, kerosene...barn, nautical or railroad. Until this year, I had no idea that Holmes, Booth & Haydens made lenses. I've had a couple of HB&H lanterns over the years so this was a surprise.

This lens belongs to a friend who's mother passed earlier this year. He found this lens in one of her old chests and asked me to do some research that will allow him to decide if he wants to keep it or pass it on to a new home. The overall length is about 5 1/2" and from what I've been able to learn so far is that it was made by Holmes Booth & Haydens in 1855 (estimated) for a 1/2 Plate Daguerreotype or ambrotype camera. It has the original flange to connect to the wooden lensboard. It also has a bell shaped lens hood and original brass lens cap. It has the original patina and the glass is clean and clear.

If all that means something to anyone out there, can you provide a little more information? What does a 1/2 plate mean? Are there people out there that still use these lenses?

Thanks all for your time and attention!


Steven Tribe
4-Sep-2017, 16:39
answers are yes and yes.
before the experts reply, you should do a search here (top right) or check the links shown at the bottom of this page which will get you started.


Looks quite original condition. 1/2 plate is just over 6x4" (image size).

From this serial number list, it looks like it is from 1855 as you say.


if you want to save ebay expenses, you can list in the hidden for sale section here which appears when you have been member for a month.

Beware private mails offering instant purchase. It is easy to join here and try and make a buy at (probably!) your expense. This is a disadvantage of not being able to give any indication of value on this site!

5-Sep-2017, 12:02
You have most of the basics about the lens. These are the most common of the early American portrait lenses. The brasswork may have been made by HBH, or another manufacturer up in the New England region, most radial drive lenses have very similar brasswork. Almost identical, except for normal changes over time. As you know, HBH made a lot of brass items, so I'm inclined to believe they were making the bodies in house. They used an optician for a period to make the lens glass named Usner.

They're usually good, sharp lenses. Yours appears to be unaltered for Waterhouse stops, but I can't be sure. If the body has no cutout and a cut slot in the inner body, it's in the original condition. Many were altered later as the emulsion speeds got faster than Daguerrotypes.