View Full Version : Request for assistance with Darlot identification

23-Feb-2010, 19:45
I came across an old brass lens today that looked interesting, but the guy doesn't know what it is. After looking at it, neither did I.
It says "Darlot Paris" and "B.F. & Co." That's it. There is no serial, no focal length, nothing. I wasn't able to measure it, but the glass (in my quick glimpse) looked perfect. It only had a rear lens element, included a mounting flange, but instead of having a front element, had a "turrent" with 4 aperture options that spun around within the lens. "Try it before you buy it" wasn't an option, but he said he'd think about what he wanted for it. I'm guessing it's a landscape lens, but I've never used anything like this.
I've read that B.F & Co. was a US importer. Beyond that, I'm open to input from others with a clue.
Is there anything I can look for to tell what it is, or from what time frame? If I had my caliper, and was able to mount it, I could come up with a focal length and aperture, but nothing yet. I'm hoping he gets back to me to tell me what he wants for it, but I'd feel a bit better about pushing him to let me mount it if I had a clue of what to expect.
Any ideas?

Thanks in advance.

Steven Tribe
24-Feb-2010, 01:57
All the data you need can be found here using search and there is even a link to a B.French and Co. 1890 catalogue where this very lens is shown. It was called "Single view lens".

24-Feb-2010, 06:58
Thanks Steven! Kudos to CCHarrsion or whoever posted all of those. I'm bookmarking that for later reading.
That single view lens looks the same, or at least similar. I seem to recall the "B.F. & Co." being engraved on the other side of the "Darlot Paris" lettering, but that's a minor detail. I'll get a measurement of the diameter before we talk about money, but I'm almost positive it will work for my 5x7 according to the table shown. The rear lens element was about 2 inches in diameter, give or take a little. Bigger would be nice, but it should work for at least one of my cameras.

24-Feb-2010, 07:55
These, like most landscape meniscus of the period, are quite sharp stopped down, but slow even at their most open (so a little hard to compose on the ground glass). Some people have used them without the stops in place, where they become pretty interesting soft focus. I wouldn't pay a lot, they are common. Perhaps $50 would be a good starting point. Of course, $20 would be better.

Louis Pacilla
24-Feb-2010, 08:48
The B.F. & co. Stands for Benjamin French & co. The sole importer of Voigtlander( B.F.& Co's. high end) & they're more economical Darlot's. This is a landscape meniscus lens & the results will surprise as it will deliver very sharp images w/ a little lowwer contrast level. I believe there is not chemical focus but may be a little but again I believe this lens is achromatic. If so , No chemical to worry about.

The worst part is it's kind of dark viewing at it's widest aperture. The view will be on the wide side on 8x10 & a little tighter on your 5x7 but if you are correct about the rear cell being 2" across. Then your lens will I believe cover 8x10 & possibly 11 x14 at small stops.

Over all a very nice view lens but WILL NOT give swirly or diffused images. Think sharp w/ lower contrast( Add a contrast filter when shooting or use higher grade contrast filter or higher grade paper when printing) .

Years ago during the pictorial photo days. Photographers would remove the wheel stops & front face that holds the wheel stop. This would let light in much greater amounts. This make the lens preform w/ lots of optical flaws IE soft & glowing images. This is where I would guess the soft focus lenses came from. I would not suggest you do this w/ the Darlot if it's in good shape . Darlots have collectible value.If you want to try this look on eBay for other less collectible meniscus lenses Like Bausch & Lomb, R.O & Co., no name's & so one. Now w/ one of these I would recommend trying the removal of the front face & wheel stop. You will now have a soft fuzzy lens.cool right?

Hope this helps & if you pick the lens up. Enjoy. BTW I would not pay the fellow more than $1oo-150 IMHO. These tend not to have same high price tag that darlot Petzval portraits & Rapid hemispherical As well as the wide angle RR Darlots. If the guy thinks he has a BIG money lens. Walk away. Not very rare & again the least desirable of all Darlots.

**Look at price difference .Just goes to shows. Split it & offer $75. There ya go.

Here's one around the size your looking at. This is model # 1-3 in the B.F & Co. catalog size covered 7x9 at widest aperture . Mounted on a Scovill Waterberry 8x10 front board

24-Feb-2010, 11:07
Here is the direct link to the 1890 Catalogue featuring the Darlot Lenses