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Thread: Old brass lens

  1. #1

    Old brass lens

    So apparently I won a flea bay auction I barely remember biding in, of an old lens I know nothing about.
    I have no experience with these old brass lenses, and I’m still new to LF. I assume the shutter is pneumatically activated? And I’ll have to make up some sort of wooden spacer ring to use this on a modern metal lens board?
    That lens board it comes with is far out... any thoughts on why it’s so long?
    Any experience y’all might have with using these old lenses on modern(ish) equipment would be much appreciated.
    Sellers photos:

    Seller description (sparse at best)

    Up for auction is an old camera lens in good used condition. This old lens is an estate find and my knowledge is limited so I will describe to the best of my ability. Shutter closes and opens easily. All adjustments move smoothly. lens is in remarkable condition for its age. Clear optics. Lens is stamped: WOLLENSAK OPTI. CO. ROCHESTER NY USA, FEB. 6 1900, PAT JUL 23, 1901, GUNDLACH MANHATTAN OPTICAL CO. Back of the lens mounting board stamped: 53. Original 6 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 3/8" padded box. Great little collector piece.

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    Last edited by Graeme Hamilton; 10-Jun-2018 at 20:28. Reason: Typos galore

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    South Dakota

    Re: Old brass lens

    Lens is a rapid rectilinear design, the shutter is pneumatic and known as "double pumpers". A rubber bulb would be connected to a nipple on the bottom of the shutter and squeezed to fire the shutter. Do you see any way to adjust the iris? Usually there is a disc with different sized holes in it that can be rotated. The lens is likely something like f8.

    Kent in SD
    The first five days after a weekend are the roughest.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Portland, OR USA

    Re: Old brass lens

    The lens has been stripped of its aperture scale. The two empty screw holes at the bottom of the pistons held it in place. The little metal indicator at 6:00 in your picture is the aperture control. This type of lens and shutter was very common around the turn of the 20th Century. Wide lens boards are not uncommon, either. I have an old Seneca 5x7 with a similar lens board.

  4. #4
    Jim Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Chillicothe Missouri USA

    Re: Old brass lens

    The lens probably screws into a lens flange that in turn is mounted by several screws to the face of the lens board. You should be able to unscrew the lens from the lens board and use that lens flange as a retaining ring on any modern thin lens board.

  5. #5

    Old brass lens

    Hmm ok this is all very interesting.
    I now see where the aperture scale should be and the accompanying adjustment lever under the lens (I assume this is what the likely confused seller was moving on the “shutter”). Once it arrives I’ll break out the calipers and make up a new scale, I’ve done that before on a home made lens. I’ll have to pick up a bulb and some tubing.
    The risks of late night ebaying people!

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  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Re: Old brass lens

    Incidentally, a pneumatic bulb isn't required to fire the shutter, but its use will reduce vibration if used carefully. The shutter is a rebranded Wollensak "Regular" shutter. I have a couple of these. With the shutter facing you as shown in the picture, pressing the lever on the right cocks it, and the lever on the left fires it. A pneumatic bulb and hose are connected to the bottom nipple of the left hand cylinder. The bottom nipple on the right hand cylinder is not used for anything. The right hand cylinder is part of the delay mechanism for the slow shutter speeds.

  7. #7

    Re: Old brass lens

    Good to know about the decretive nipple, I might have spent an hour trying to get the wrong one to work

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    St. Simons Island, Georgia

    Re: Old brass lens

    I’ve had these old lenses where the aperture scale was removed. It was probably marked in US stops.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Re: Old brass lens

    You might list the wood lens board in the for sale section, there just might be a member looking for one that size!
    Real cameras are measured in inches...
    Not pixels.

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