View Full Version : Another “mysterious” Darlot

30-Oct-2014, 13:41
Hello everyone,

One more request for help with identification of a Darlot lens that I recently acquired on the well-known site.

Darlot,Sr Paris

The seller claimed it’s a Petzval and it looks like a typical Jamin Darlot Petzval lens with 5” body with hood and 4x5 coverage. However, when I received the parcel and disassembled the barrel it became clear that the rear lens is composed of only one glass element.

The front lens is a typical Petzval type compound glass. The edge of the front element is marked with “14 Darlot + some word I cannot decipher + (date) 1863”.
The rear lens is just one element almost flat biconvex glass with D=6cm (2 1/2”) and thickness of 5mm (about 3/16”). Nothing is written on the edge. Actually,
it’s a bit greasy compare to a clean edge of the front element.

Regarding rack & pinion mechanics it moves both elements together against the flange, so the distance between the front and rear elements doesn’t change. The barrel doesn’t have a slot for waterhouse stops. Everything in the lens is done with very high tolerances and both front and rear elements sit very tightly in the barrel. It is unlikely that the seller has substituted the rear element although you never know how smart some people can be.

The questions is what is it? Is it another "bastard junk hybrid" Petzval with substituted rear element or something else? I have already checked the forum and CCHarrison's website, but didn’t find any relevant information. Thanks in advance for your assistance.


Louis Pacilla
30-Oct-2014, 14:23
Looks like your missing one(flint) of the two rear elements in your Petzval lens and this is not unusual. It should have been the interior element in the rear combination but many times they get turned around over the years and eventually the lens gets a whack on the glass and that's that.

Steven Tribe
30-Oct-2014, 14:48
A very nice plain Petzval from Darlot - but, as Louis said, missing one of the rear lenses. The distance piece is there, though. The advantage with screw-assembly is that the "slack" can be taken up!

The engraving style matches both the serial number and the fact that this was originally fitted with front stops - 1863!

The problem could have been unknown to the original seller and the present seller/dealer, as it will give a image.

I have a petzval with c&G rear lens set and a "gifted amateur, signed" front achromat.

30-Oct-2014, 15:29
Thanks for the quick response. It seems you are right that the lens is missing both rear elements. It is possible that the rear combination was substituted for a glass element similar in thickness to fill the gap. Regarding the dealer who advertised the lens as Petzval, I can say mildly he was incompetent in describing the lens condition. Although, one might consider him as a scammer who jacked up the auction price claiming the lens is a genuine Petzval. This mwclassic guy is specializing in photography lenses and sells quite a few antique lenses as well. Most likely he knew what he was selling.

Steven Tribe
30-Oct-2014, 17:04
Oh, MW Classic!

They have a big turnover of lenses which they have bought at UK Salerooms and elswhere. I have bought quite a few lenses from them and must say I am a satisfied customer and I know others who have been just as active with them.

There is no way they themselves have concocted this lens. They do mount the lenses they buy to check coverage etc. Obviously the problems with the rear cell have not been discovered. I believe you will have no problem (other than return postage costs) in getting a refund.

My only problem with MWClassic is they bid on the same items I do - whilst I (and a couple of others here) push the prices they have to pay for a lens up to realistic end-user values reducing their possible mark-up!

30-Oct-2014, 23:54
Yes, this is MW Classic! Being not a grumpy old man, I should also add that the front element of the lens has traces of fungus (it was successfuly treated, but traces are there) and the seller didn't mention it in the ad. I suppose the guy should be responsible for the correct description of goods he is selling. I opened the case for this transaction.

Pete Watkins
31-Oct-2014, 01:39
This is not the first time that MW Classic have been known to mis-describe a lens. They have been in the business for long enough to know what a Petzval looks like. Send it back and report them to "the auction site" and demand a refund on postage. I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole!

Steven Tribe
31-Oct-2014, 05:18
M and W do better with their descriptions, both on their own web-site and in Ebay listings, than many other people. Considering their throughput, they do a reasonable job with Large Format items and do alter their listings on the basis of information received.

We must also remember that poorly researched and identified items can be to the buyers/bidders advantage!

Steven Tribe
4-Nov-2014, 14:20
I hope the OP will update when he has resolved the problem with his MW Darlot?

I have looked at the details of my own simple Darlot Petzval (serial number 23530) and both the achromat and the thicker rear lens have pencil "Darlot á Paris" and various illegible numbers.

6-Nov-2014, 00:53
The lens has been shipped back to MW. He accepted return and refund. Perhaps it will show up on ebay once again in two weeks (shipping from Moscow to London is about 10 workdays). Overall, this lens is in great shape considering its age - 150 years. Alas, it misses the rear elements that makes its Petzval!

I suppose that all lenses with numbers on the barrel passed QC department at some point and I can't imagine that Mr. Darlot would even think of selling a lens (whatever design) with compromised optics :)))