View Full Version : Very early Voigtlander lens

Paul Ewins
19-Jul-2015, 17:58
My local collectors' society conducts closed auctions a few times a year and the last one was on Sunday. One of the items in the catalog was listed as "Lens: Lancaster & Sons, large brass" which sounded good. On investigation it turned out to be "Voigtlander and Sons" not Lancaster and is numbered 523 but has no other indication of what it might be. I wasn't the successful bidder; the new owner is a passionate Voigtlander collector who said he had been waiting decades to get such an early lens. I'm not a Voigtlander collector and with no time to do any research I opted to stop bidding early since I had no idea what I was buying. It was kind of disappointing because larger brass lenses rarely show up at the auction while there is usually a slew of german rangefinders and such that hold no interest for me.

So now I am curious as to what the lens might be. I may have the chance to borrow it to shoot, but since I would need to make up a lens board specifically for it I'd like to know if it is worth the effort. I've attached a few pics but unfortunately I didn't have anything for scale. It was around 10" long, including lens hood and maybe 4" in diameter but those are very rough estimates. Any ideas?

19-Jul-2015, 18:04
Wow, you scooped up a good lens there! Not sure why this early serial number is already engraved Braunschweig though.

19-Jul-2015, 18:49
Wow, you scooped up a good lens there! Not sure why this early serial number is already engraved Wein though.
Deeply suspicious~
It already had a mature profile.

Paul Ewins
19-Jul-2015, 19:20
Feel free to voice your concerns - remember I wasn't the buyer, merely the under bidder. A little looking around the net does make "Wien und Braunschweig" look problematic, but what about "Voigtlander & Sons" instead of "Voigtlander & Sohn"?

19-Jul-2015, 21:58
I would not believe that this is an original engraving.
If you search the net you find petzvals up to No 1700 that are only Wien, the Braunschweig (there is a 1952 dated lens with wien und braunschweig, No 4033) Dept was established in 1849.
At least this engravings all have the N bended over the whole number.

Waht is very suspicious, it says Voigtlönder & sons in Wien UND Br.... Maybe they would have made an english engraving for the customer, but wouldnt they have done it with "and" completely in english?

Such an engraving is easy to make, so be careful... There are a lot of fake engraving in the photo market, as Luftwaffe-Leicas...

If 4000 is 1852 and the made lenses from 1840 on, can a 500 be as late as 1849... did they only make 400 lenses in 9 years?

also there is a No 1382 in the net with Only Wien.. and again in a different writing style to the lens shown here...

19-Jul-2015, 22:12
you find good numbers and datings here:


so forget it and be glad you did not buy it...
No 500 would have been made in 1842, braunschweig lenses start with about 3800...
An there is also no indication that they ever engraved "sons"

Andrew Plume
20-Jul-2015, 01:34
Paul, Hi

I'm pretty sure that there have been past discussions on here re this/early Voigtlander serial numbers


Steven Tribe
20-Jul-2015, 01:53
A very poor forgery of an impossible Voigtlander text!

The lens has intrinsic photographic value/usefulness though.

Paul Ewins
20-Jul-2015, 05:23
So I guess then it is just a run of the mill Petzval that was "improved" at some point to boost its value. Nice that I didn't blow a lot of money on it, but if its true status had been known ahead of time then I might have had the chance to get it at a reasonable price. BTW, if it had been the real thing what would you estimate the value to be?

20-Jul-2015, 05:44
Dan (CC Harrison) had a post about a fake engraved Voigtlander. Here or on his website.

23-Jul-2015, 20:43
I have a Voigtlander Petzval, serial 2942. It's engraved "Voigtlander & Sohns, in Wein". Lens seems to date to around 1849. Because "Sohns" is spelled "Sons", and it says "Braunschweig" instead of just "Wein," I suspect this was a "blank" Petzval that at one point was engraved by someone in an English speaking country. Note there are some other differences in the engravings between my lens and the other one, more than you might expect from a small shop and lenses supposedly made just a few years apart. I'll also mention that on the lens you showed the lens hood is knurled at the base to make it easy to uncrew, but the hood on my lens has no such grooves. I also included a photo of another Voigtlander I own, from around 1864. Lens hood isn't knurled on that one either.

Kent in SD

Steven Tribe
24-Jul-2015, 02:28
These 2 look like absolutely genuine engravings to me.

The slightly "loose" engraving for the early Voigtlander looks exactly right and I think the serial number is OK for Wien to be present without Braunschweig. It is possible that the sleeve is correct, but the barrel/lenses come from another (later) Petzval.

In your OP I think you have switched Wien and Braunschweig around and I read it as Sohn -not Son!

26-Jul-2015, 02:55
the 2942 has a normal engraving, not fake. It says Sohn... and has the swing over the number, which is not existent in the TO lens...