View Full Version : A wee early Scottish Petzval

Steven Tribe
19-Apr-2013, 05:20
Being a bit bored the last few weeks (all the auctions I followed ended in disasters!), I decided to take a calculated risk with the following at a well known London lens "clearing house" to stimulate my after breakfast need for "play".

The maker is J.J. Liddell of 3 Hanover Sq. Edinburgh. Mostly known as a maker of measuring instruments, but also as an optician and lens grinder. All his (John Josiah Liddell) near relatives were engravers and printers. He died in 1858, which is a great (but sad, of course) help to dating.
The lens is obviously sick as the rear cell appears to be missing a lens, which could account for the impossible focal length of 17".

But nether-the-less interesting with:

-radial drive (a bit flimsy perhaps).
-later sleeve (Waterhouse - but no slot?) cutout - but also screwed to the main barrel.

I'll post in DIY if it gets interesting.

Steven Tribe
19-Apr-2013, 12:02
A bit of research in Scottish trademen's directories shows that J.J. Liddell was working as an "artificer in glass, optician and instrument maker" from 1843 continually through to 1857 at same address. Went over to spirit level manufacture in the later 1850's.

Liddell (Liddle) is quite a normal scottish surname - so probably not a relation to Eric or Alice (athletics and Lewis Carroll).

19-Apr-2013, 20:07
My memory isn't what it used to be so verify this independently but I believe the calotypist Thomas Roger used Liddell lenses. I seem to remember seeing one either in the Royal Museum of Scotland or the National Museum of Scotland...

Steven Tribe
20-Apr-2013, 02:52
Of course - I forgot that Edinburgh/St.Andrews was a photographic world "hotspot" in the 1830's - 1850's. Hill, Adamson and Ro(d)ger, Maxwell etc.
A good place to start an optical workshop.

Steven Tribe
24-Apr-2013, 10:00
It is certainly not a Petzval.
Not quite as "wee" as I thought. Front lens is 60mm across and the rear lens is 48mm.
The front lens is built into the wide section which looks like a lens hood.
Unusually, no copperplate engraving, just nice capitals.
Fun radial drive system with extra barrel section inside the main barrel to catch the 2 retaining screws. Nicely finished gear track.

It looks complete (apart from the missing flange) with clear optics and very complex systems to hold the lenses in the cell.

The optical design is quite unknown to me and I'll have to get the books out!

Front lens is a thin, slightly negative, lens.
Rear appears to be a straightforward achromat. This may possibly be an air achromat rather than a balsam. I havn't loosened the rear cell mount as yet.
The gripping face on the cells is just about half the width found on later cells.

Steven Tribe
24-Apr-2013, 14:33
I can only describe this as a -ve plus +ve Periscope.
After taking the rear cell out and doing a laser test, there was no sign of a cement layer.
So the nearest modern (!) designs are the Dallmeyer Bergheim and the Puyo anachromatique. But I cannot think of any other design with a -ve lens in front.
This will produce soft images.

25-Apr-2013, 18:38

Clear out your mail box! My last PM bounced because your mailbox is full...

See: Brass & Glass: Scientific Instrument Making Workshops in Scotland which may have more information


Steven Tribe
7-May-2013, 02:58
Just a minor update.

The focussing distance is around 17", as described, but the presence of the front -ve lens gives an EFL of 10.7".
I suppose one could view this design as a landscape, air separated, meniscus.
I have now converted a flange to fit well and will do some chart tests as well as "general photography".