View Full Version : Old Brass Lens can anyone identify or seen one like it on a camera?

21-Apr-2015, 18:29
I have an unusual brass lens that I have been trying to identify. It comes in a brass recessed unit to fit the lens deep into the camera. The rear of the lens is almost identical to a Harrison globe lens that I had. There is only the curved glass in the rear there is no lens element in front of the diaphragm. Itís pretty unique looking on the lensboard but I have never seen a camera with this type of recessed lens. Has anyone ever seen something like this? I am including pictures below.

21-Apr-2015, 19:25
Lost its front group?

21-Apr-2015, 19:31
Interesting. How many reflections? (Is it a cemented pair, or a single glass)

Looks like a wide-angle 'landscape' lens from the 1880s.

21-Apr-2015, 19:56
Hi, it looks like its a cemented pair. It does not look like there was ever a front group to the lens. I put it on a camera and its focal length was approx 7 inches but that was measured at the lens board the actual lens was further back in the camera so it would be less.

Steven Tribe
22-Apr-2015, 01:01
This is early. The only reason for a sunken mount for a wide-angled lens I can think of is because it was on a sliding box camera with an absolute minimum distance between the two "halves". Do I see wet-plate stains on the lens board?
I can certainly see several assembly matching roman numerals (III) in the last photo, which would indicate a certain on-going production! This, again, was used in the early days - especialy by makers with telescope traditions (Grubb and some Frenchies).

The convex surface is quite extreme and looks like "Globe" curvature. More details please!

22-Apr-2015, 14:33
Hi, here are some larger pictures which hopefully will show some details on the lens.


22-Apr-2015, 16:07
This is early.

I thought perhaps early 1880s because of the rotating stop wheel, earlier than that it would have been a cap with various sized holes, or a slot with Waterhouse stops? Without that, I would have thought it might be very early, but again having a cemented pair does indicate a late 19th cent. make. It does look like they took an existing lens design and fitted it into that recessed mount, and perhaps adjusted the curvature of the element to suit their need.

From the catalogs, a lot of makers were making 'detective' cameras disguised as boxes, purses, etc, this would have been a fixed-focus apparatus with a wide field of view, with a trade-off of very long exposures.