View Full Version : Dating a Lerebours

Craig Tuffin
25-Aug-2014, 05:50
I have recently picked up quite a few lenses. One of them is a complete Lerebours petzval with a serial number of 2600. As far as I can see this is quite an early manufacture but I don't want to make any assumptions. Could it be in the 1840's or perhaps 1850's?

25-Aug-2014, 08:30
Lerebours (I assume it also says Et Secretan?) were a very early maker, 1845-1855 is the dates I always use. They cannot be precisely dated. Of course, the lower the serial number, the earlier. They're good lenses. If it does not say Secretan, it's earlier.

Here is a little known feature I discovered years ago. I believe I was the first lens scholar to document it. Look under a loupe at the rear glass, near the very edge. make sure it's configured correctly! There might be tiny "rice writing" engraved in the face of the glass (I'm not talking about the edge) with the serial number. I call this rice writing because it's so small, whoever did it could have written on a grain of rice! I think this was a way to "confirm" you had the correct Lerebours glass in a brass mounting. Some early Jamins did this too.



Steven Tribe
25-Aug-2014, 14:25
Early 1850's - but this is just guesswork based on the lenses shown D'Agostini's listing in his book.

This volume on French pre-1900 lenses includes a complete L & S catalologe from 1853, giving the range of "objectif double" (Petzvals). So if you can do some measuring (including focal length) I can help further!

25-Aug-2014, 14:33
If I recall correctly, Secretan didnt join Lerebours until 1845. There are extant lenses with just Lerebours name engraved on the lens but not many. Those, likely, would be pre-45. Given it took Voigtlander about 8 years to produce 2600 lenses, I am betting it took Lerebours (who made landscape and petzval lenses) about the same time, give or take, and would probably place the lens around 1852 +/- 2 years. This assumes they used sequential numbers, which I believe they did. Lerebours was a player in camera optics the early 40s, but probably didnt produce lenses in large numbers until the later 40s after Secretan joined him.


Copy of their 1853 catalogue showing their Petzval lenses.



Craig Tuffin
26-Aug-2014, 01:58
Thanks guys....amazing as usual! I'll measure the FL etc sometime over the next couple of days (away for work at the moment) and let you know. Garrett I'll have a look for that tiny writing at the same time (I assume you mean on the crown glass and not the flint).

26-Aug-2014, 03:12
i have quite a nice one and it too has the writing on the edge of the front and back lenses. haven't got it mounted yet but it's quite large with 3 inch diameter glass.

26-Aug-2014, 15:21
One rough way to date is if it has a slot for stops or not. If it does, it's from after 1860, roughly.

26-Aug-2014, 15:46
One rough way to date is if it has a slot for stops or not. If it does, it's from after 1860, roughly.

Actually, not a reliable indicator of date of manufacture. Many lenses were sold for decades after waterhouse stops (1856-1858) came into existence. For many makers, having the lens cut for stops was an option, not necessarily an automatic feature. Additionally, earlier lenses can but cut post-manufacture, again, possible confusing the original date of production.

27-Aug-2014, 02:31
<<Many lenses were sold for decades after waterhouse stops (1856-1858) came into existence>>

SHOULD READ, Many lenses were sold without being cut for decades after waterhouse stops (1856-1858) came into existence