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View Full Version : Voigtlander & Sohn No. 9, ca. 1875



codymobley
5-Sep-2017, 07:40
I picked up a very large lens this weekend from an antique store in Houston, Texas that I'm hoping to find more information about. The lens measures 19" long and 7.5" across the lens hood. It is still in the possession of a friend that found it and informed me of its existence so these are the only dimensions I have at the moment. The coolest part of the purchase was that the original shipping box was included with the purchase, it had the hand painted address of a photographer in Tyler, Texas on the front.

I shoot the historically common sizes (9th -whole plate) so I'm not familiar with large format lenses, but the fact that it was a Texas ID'd lens was all I needed to pick it up. Does anyone have any information on this lens? It was described to me on Facebook as a No.9 or 9A, but I haven't been able to uncover much info online.

169316

169317

169318

169319

I appreciate any help,

Cody Mobley

pjd
5-Sep-2017, 07:56
Hmm. Is that the price tag I see in the second photo? Wish there were a few antique shops like that round my part of the world :(

Sorry I can't help, I'm sure a few people here will be able to though.

codymobley
5-Sep-2017, 08:03
Yes, I purchased it for $295.00. Which is roughly half the price of my least expensive half plate lens that I use the most.

Steven Tribe
5-Sep-2017, 09:00
The price is a joke and you will have a bad (but elated) feeling about this for a long time!

If it is a 9, then the most likely is the series IV Euryscope.
This has a focal length of 46" and the front lens is 6 1/2" across. The Waterhouse slot should be midway between the two symmetrical lens cells. If it is this one, it will cover 40x50". Cost 890 usd in 1890. Measure the approx. focal length (from the Waterhouse slot) and the diameter of the front glass and we can say more!

renditiont
5-Sep-2017, 09:09
The price is a joke and you will have a bad feeling about this for a long time!

If it is a 9, then the most likely is the series IV Euryscope.
This has a focal length of 46cm and the front lens is 6 1/2" across. The Waterhouse slot shouĉd be midway between the two symmetrical lens cells. If it is this one, it will cover 40x50cm easily. Cost 890 usd in 1890. Measure the approx. focal length (from the Waterhouse slot) and the diameter of the front glass and we can say more!

I think Steven meant 46 inches with 6 1/2 inches across, which translated to ~1168mm f/7. Still doesn't reduce it in any way, as one insane sweet deal you got there. The information can be found at http://www.antiquecameras.net/1890lenscatalogue.html on the 7th page of the catalog .

Steven Tribe
5-Sep-2017, 09:20
Yes correct. I have changed the cm to inches. I was using the Prochnow book and some of the catalogue listing he reproduces are from the USA agency.

If the lens hood is 6 1/2", then the front lens must be less than this. So I don't think we are talking about no. 9.
More likely, no.8 which has the front lens diameter at just over 5" and covers merely 30x36" with a focal length of 32".

The brass condition is exceptional for this date, lets hope the glass is OK too.

renditiont
5-Sep-2017, 09:31
Yes correct. I have changed the cm to inches. I was using the Prochnow book and some of the catalogue listing he reproduces are from the USA agency.

If the lens hood is 6 1/2", then the front lens must be less than this. So I don't think we are talking about no. 9.
More likely, no.8 which has the front lens diameter at just over 5" and covers merely 30x36" with a focal length of 32".

The brass condition is exceptional for this date, lets hope the glass is OK too.

I can't comment on the focal length, but on OP's second picture, you can tell the hood is in the excess of 7 inches (~7 1/2''), and the rear's glass itself on the first picture is pretty big as well. As said earlier, this is one insane deal. Looking forward to see it use on ULF plates.

pjd
5-Sep-2017, 09:35
Yes, I purchased it for $295.00. Which is roughly half the price of my least expensive half plate lens that I use the most.

Well, sounds like you were ripped off with the half plate lenses, so this evens up the score :rolleyes: Good luck with the lens! Pity there isn't a camera attached to it.

Steven Tribe
5-Sep-2017, 09:48
If I could give a bit more information?

It doesn't appear to have the small size number above the normal engraving - next to the edge.

This may be because they didn't make many of this size. It was made in the period when Voigtlander did not engrave Euryscope on their barrels. In addition, the various series II to VI were still under development. So this could be a lens which doesn't quite fit the speed or focal length of the strict Euryscope series.

tuant
5-Sep-2017, 09:52
I don't know how many antique stores are accessible without a boat nowadays in Huston area but this is a lucky find. The seller clearly wasn't a photographer. It is not a IV type, I bought one for someone a few years ago. You can unscrew the mid section to make it easier to carry. It was still a struggle for me to bring the two sections as carry-on onto a flight.

Tuant

tuant
5-Sep-2017, 10:00
I have to add we haven't made any plates with that lens yet. It was just too big. You will need to build a 40" camera at least with a 16" lens board with a stand just for the lens. It is a heavy lens, but well built like all early Voigtlanders. They didn't cut back on copper. That's why the Nazis were looking for these in people's basements when Germany was short on copper during WWII:)

Tuant

codymobley
5-Sep-2017, 10:26
Unfortunately the lens is not yet in my hands. It is at the house of my friend that informed me of its existence. I paypal'd him the funds and he picked it up for me. The second photo in the above series is the only dimensions I had to go off of for the 6.5" measurement. It may be closer to 6.75".

Thank you for the info so far!

codymobley
5-Sep-2017, 10:30
Glass looked good, but dusty.

Jac@stafford.net
5-Sep-2017, 10:56
Cost 890 usd in 1890.

If my calculation is correct, that is $21,598.50 in 2016 USD. Insane! I would think there would be a US Government mark on the box. Who else could afford it? (And oil was not yet a real big deal in Texas back then.)

anachromatic
5-Sep-2017, 11:17
Congratulations!!
Incredible lens and incredible condition too!
I think it's a Petzval #9. Focal lenght will be around 26 inches.
Many of this kind of lenses were mounted on astronomical telescopes. Maybe you can find some conection with the name and address printed on the wooden box.

Mark Sawyer
5-Sep-2017, 11:44
Yup, looks like a Euryscop Series IV No. 9! Congratulations, and my sympathies for now needing a mammoth plate camera to go with it!

goamules
5-Sep-2017, 11:57
That's very rare, it is the biggest one I've ever seen.

Jim Fitzgerald
5-Sep-2017, 12:17
This just goes to show all of us that these lenses are still out there. How many have been swept up in tornados and sent all over the south?

Steven Tribe
5-Sep-2017, 12:29
If it is the no. 9 Petzval, it is as anachromatique describes.

Looking at the photos once more, I think this is the famous sechszoller (six-incher) Petzval which is the same as no.9 Petzval. One sold at auction (no. 1000!) was 47cm long and weighed 14.3 kilos. There is a separation of the barrel by the flange brass and a system for central stops there.

The Front lens would be 16.5cm across and it covers just 18.5 x 18.5 inches.

anachromatic
5-Sep-2017, 12:57
If it is the no. 9 Petzval, it is as anachromatique describes.

Looking at the photos once more, I think this is the famous sechszoller (six-incher) Petzval which is the same as no.9 Petzval. One sold at auction (no. 1000!) was 47cm long and weighed 14.3 kilos. There is a separation of the barrel by the flange brass and a system for central stops there.

The Front lens would be 16.5cm across and it covers just 18.5 x 18.5 inches.

Probably the same model than that one sold in auction years ago...same size and same look. But the other one was the #10.000 and was until 1945 at the Voigtlander Museum in Braunschweig....and near of the other monster like this, the lens #21892(also a Petzval design)

Emil Schildt
5-Sep-2017, 13:48
If it is the no. 9 Petzval, it is as anachromatique describes.

Looking at the photos once more, I think this is the famous sechszoller (six-incher) Petzval which is the same as no.9 Petzval. One sold at auction (no. 1000!) was 47cm long and weighed 14.3 kilos. There is a separation of the barrel by the flange brass and a system for central stops there.

The Front lens would be 16.5cm across and it covers just 18.5 x 18.5 inches.

Oh dear - I once was given the option to buy a #9 Petzval - (in aluminium, so not so heavy) in Prague... didn't have the cash - even though it was cheap - even then...

Congrats
(Btw - just saw a guy on fb who is selling really NICE ULF cameras for good prices - )

Jac@stafford.net
5-Sep-2017, 14:20
I have not seen a Voigtlander #9 in my over fifty years of looking. OP, good for you. Collectors should go wild!

In my opinion from my own adventures with my #7 Voigtlander (http://www.digoliardi.net/voigtlander.jpg), its imaging qualities are underwhelming and other less expensive lenses do olde times better as Jim Galli's images evince.

I have to wonder if more than just a few #9s were ever sold.

Cameron Cornell
5-Sep-2017, 14:31
The crate says J.C. Stephens, Tyler, TX. I wonder if it was the J.C. Stephens mentioned in this Tyler, TX agricultural report from 1912:

https://books.google.com/books?id=deYmAQAAIAAJ&pg=RA11-PA13&lpg=RA11-PA13&dq=jc+stephens+tyler+texas&source=bl&ots=mgqsYqJbgx&sig=7Y3LBjfK_6mRP9mi7SPYkrYtAdM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjH5pqg_o7WAhXFhFQKHa6GBwQQ6AEI-AEwHA#v=onepage&q=jc%20stephens%20tyler%20texas&f=false

Cameron Cornell
Washington State

codymobley
5-Sep-2017, 20:27
It likely is the same man. I searched for his name associated with photographers in Tyler, Texas, but came up dry. If he was a peach farmer I wonder why the lens was sent to him, or if the crate was onlynised to store it as it was moved from Tyler to Galveston before ending up in Houston.

Steven Tribe
6-Sep-2017, 01:11
This is too big a lens to have been used by an ordinary portrait photographer, not just in Texas, but anywhere!

Tyler cannot be the first owner, in my view, unless - as someone mentioned - he used his earnings in the pursuit of stars and planets on his estate!

An institution of some sort must have been the first owner. Many of the super large optics of the 19th century are still attached to astronomical instruments. Judging from the condition of the lens, I would guess that this was a purchase made in error, as there is no sign of use or special mounting that would have been necessary for telescope use.

Now Denmark is a little country and all the strange things that happen to items which are owned by Public Institutions (Scientific Establishment, Museums and so on) which are no longer on display/use and placed in store rooms, have often become public knowledge.

One super example is the State Museum of Art. Here thousands of paintings have been in store for over 60 years. Long ago, A Minister of Culture decided that these paintings should be seen. A system of loan to Schools, semi-indpendent Government institutions was arranged - a kind of long term loan Library system. Record keeping was very poor, but a check about 20 years ago revealed that approximately half of these works of art were no longer traceable. A few were discovered to have been sold at auction years before and many were found in private "Ownership"!

An analysis of a few cases showed that it was not simple theft. A typical sequence of events was.

Office manager gets a canvas on loan from the State art depot.
Office manger gets to like "his" art.
Office manager retires and takes his art with him home.
Office manager dies.
The artwork is considered as part of his legacy by the family.
Artwork is sold/attempted sold at auction.

It is possible that this lens has been disposed of officially, without the real value of the lens being judged. There have also been periods when this lens would have been considered as a piece of old useless optical junk from the 19th Century and could have bought for very little. I am sure many readers here would still share this view! If the person on the box had paid a lot - or even used this lens - I am sure that his heirs would have known about it and it wouldn't have ended up in a non-specialist shop in Houston. The Icelandic Nicola Perscheid lens mentioned here last week shows that the later generations do have a good knowledge of Photographers in the family.

I am not suggesting this lens is somehow tainted by a questionable past - that looks very unlikely in this case. I am just trying to figure out how such a unique lens ended up in Texas.

Jim Galli
6-Sep-2017, 08:00
Please do not underestimate what us Yankees may do. Attached is a smaller petzval pressed into service by the Naval Observatory fellows who devised such a camera to photograph an eclipse event about 100 + or - years ago. The link to the larger file that was posted at Shorpy is here (http://www.shorpy.com/node/22418?size=_original#caption).169374

Jim Fitzgerald
6-Sep-2017, 08:25
I'm happy with my #7. At least I can use it on the 8A.

Jody_S
6-Sep-2017, 08:29
I have also been wondering what that lens might have been purchased for. I understand most of the larger ones were essentially showpieces, made by the big lensmakers to prove they could, as props for their showrooms, advertising, etc. But this one is just small enough that it might have been intended for use. I just can't imagine what a Texas photographer might have wanted with it, and it's far too expensive to have been ordered by mistake or just to display in the front of a shop. I've seen period ledgers detailing house construction for roughly the same amount ($750).

An early attempt at telephoto photography? Was there some contraption built to use this monster with smaller plates for some special purpose? Or was someone trying to establish himself as a dealer and this was his sample?

Jac@stafford.net
6-Sep-2017, 08:54
I'm happy with my #7. At least I can use it on the 8A.

Another person with a #7 (http://www.digoliardi.net/voigtlander.jpg)! I'm happy to know that.

goamules
6-Sep-2017, 13:04
Yeah Jim, a man named Clyde Tombaugh used to live near me in the 1990s in New Mexico. He built his own telescopes too. It seems he discovered some strange body in space, called Pluto!

At 29" Voigtlander with 6" diameter glass was used at the Lowell observatory in 1905 in Flagstaff, AZ. That glass was replaced by another type. This telescope is now the finder on the big 24" Clark:

http://sites.csn.edu/planetarium/PPA/DesertSkies/P1010027.JPG


Eventually it was replaced by a 66" Cooke triplet, with 13" diameter glass, to search for and find the "Planet X." Here it is:

https://lowell.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/PlutoTelescope.jpg

ghostcount
6-Sep-2017, 14:00
...Eventually it was replaced by a 66" Cooke triplet, with 13" diameter glass, to search for and find the "Planet X." Here it is:

https://lowell.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/PlutoTelescope.jpg

I wonder what happened to the right boxing glove.:rolleyes:

Jim Galli
6-Sep-2017, 14:46
I wonder what happened to the right boxing glove.:rolleyes:

The boxing glove is because it hurts like the dickens when you keep bumping your head on that thing. Ask me how I know this.

codymobley
6-Sep-2017, 15:30
Does anyone have a link to the auction mentioned above of the similar lens that was previously displayed in the Voigtlander museum?

I've gathered that this is a fairly rare lens.

goamules
6-Sep-2017, 18:18
Boxing gloves....that's what we needed on our Destroyer Escort. We were always ripping our arms on cable shielding of hitting our heads on junction boxes. I'm sure it's a kinder, gentler Navy now. You know...to take care of North Korea. Back to your regularly scheduled topic.

Steven Tribe
7-Sep-2017, 00:23
Does anyone have a link to the auction mentioned above of the similar lens that was previously displayed in the Voigtlander museum?

I've gathered that this is a fairly rare lens.

No.

But I can attach this reference with pictures and description to an old listing at Breker's auctions in Germany. If you contact Breker for more information, they will send better photographs. Quite quickly, probably, if you link them to this discussion or include a photo.

By the way, are you quite sure the wooden crate has always been with this lens?

Rare is not quite the right word! Although this size was in the published catalogues, it was not a stock item. They had the grinding/polishing tools at Braunschweig, perhaps even the optical glass - but they would have been made to order.

There has been more here about this lens here in August 2013 in the Soft Focus sales thread - including sales price. It is here:
http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?65614-Some-Soft-Focus-Lens-Sales-Information/page194

Don't get too carried way with the eventual sale price! It didn't sell at an earlier auction so the market is very small.

There was a special serial number on one of these and the other one had provenance that it came from Voigtlandet's own collection.

Here is another link to a slightly smaller size from the same year as yours, sold at auction in 2006. This is about the maximum size actually used for normal photography

https://classic.liveauctioneers.com/item/2453183_brass-petzval-lens-by-voigtlnder-and-sohn-vienna

codymobley
7-Sep-2017, 06:00
No worries, I have no interest in selling the lens. I'm mostly interested in any technical info associated with it. Two focal lengths have been provided in this thread as well as plate sizes, I'm hoping that it is the Petzval and not Euryscop lens as I can build a smaller camera and reducers.

Thanks for the help!

Steven Tribe
7-Sep-2017, 07:35
I think the concensus is that it is the no. 9 Petzval with a split barrel at the flange.

Jody_S
7-Sep-2017, 07:45
No worries, I have no interest in selling the lens. I'm mostly interested in any technical info associated with it. Two focal lengths have been provided in this thread as well as plate sizes, I'm hoping that it is the Petzval and not Euryscop lens as I can build a smaller camera and reducers.

Thanks for the help!

The lens is just about useless for photography. There may be a handful of people doing ultra large format who might be interested in mounting the lens on their cameras just to see, but you could count those people on the fingers of one hand. The real value of the lens is as a collector's item, and if you aren't a collector, I would advise selling it and using the proceeds to purchase lf gear you personally could use. Or a new car (a small one).

Steven Tribe
7-Sep-2017, 08:51
+1
There are no available cameras that can manage this without major modifications.

goamules
8-Sep-2017, 07:44
Cameras made out of panel vans, small trailers, and such are what people are doing with lenses this size, to make giant wetplates.

tuant
8-Sep-2017, 10:44
169492
169493
169494

Big as it is, when mounted, it will be something like this:) This is a giant cone lens, just right for 24x32 wetplate portrait. For the Voigtlander 9 petzval, the image circle will just be about 2" larger than this giant cone. The lens board is 12" square carbon fiber. With a special lens support, it will work, but the stand needs to be fortified because the No. 9 weighs about 15 more pounds and 6" longer. Over the years I have asked Chamonix to make 4 of this size cameras. I still have an extra one if anyone is interested:) I use one myself.

Tuant

Mark Sawyer
8-Sep-2017, 11:50
Suddenly I'm appreciating the ergonomics of Petzval's old Orthoscop. This 1859-ish Voigtlander Orthoscop with a 36-inch focal length and image circle fits comfortably on a 9x9-inch lens board.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4334/36936950162_e57095f630_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/YgZwqj)Orthoscop 1s (https://flic.kr/p/YgZwqj) by Mark Owen Sawyer (https://www.flickr.com/photos/carrots_eh/), on Flickr

codymobley
11-Sep-2017, 08:59
169492
169493
169494

Big as it is, when mounted, it will be something like this:) This is a giant cone lens, just right for 24x32 wetplate portrait. For the Voigtlander 9 petzval, the image circle will just be about 2" larger than this giant cone. The lens board is 12" square carbon fiber. With a special lens support, it will work, but the stand needs to be fortified because the No. 9 weighs about 15 more pounds and 6" longer. Over the years I have asked Chamonix to make 4 of this size cameras. I still have an extra one if anyone is interested:) I use one myself.

Tuant

I like making Lewis cameras.....I might make a huge Lewis style camera for this lens. Here's a 6th plate relievo ambrotype of my halfplate Lewis camera that is my workhorse.

169610

goamules
11-Sep-2017, 13:17
Neat. If you decide what types of photography you mostly want to do, you can get by without even having bellows. Just have fixed focus at one distance, and always shoot there. Move the subject in and out until they are in perfect focus.

codymobley
21-Oct-2017, 13:36
171112

I have the lens in hand and it is a beast.

Steven Tribe
21-Oct-2017, 14:41
If the box in the foreground is what it came in, then I can confirm that it is not the original Voigtlander box!

codymobley
21-Oct-2017, 18:08
The box in the foreground is just what it was delivered to Houston antique store in. The name of the box was a farmer in Tyler, Texas and likely was reused due to it being a good fit for the lens at some point in its life.

Leszek Vogt
21-Oct-2017, 18:42
Wow, v. cool lens and very nice find. Glad you can use it. Love to see some images from it. Congrats!

Les