View Full Version : c.1900 American Lens Brands

30-Dec-2016, 19:18
I'm doing a presentation on early Dakota photographers next week, and was going to talk a little about what lenses a successful pro photographer would most likely have been used 1880--1910. (Portraits, postcards, stereoviews.) I'm thinking they would have mostly American brands due to cost & availability--B&L would be a no-brainer. I assume a B&L rapid rectilinear would be very common 1880 to 1900, and after that a B&L Tessar? What else would be top choices back then?

Kent in SD

30-Dec-2016, 20:18
I could be wrong but I doubt there were any agents in Dakota selling their own branded lenses, so anything would have been purchased either in person on the East coast or by mail order. I suggest you look through the period catalogs for what was available. Photographers then as now bought the best they could (as a status symbol as much as for quality), so if your hypothetical commercial photographer was successful then he probably bought English or French lenses.

30-Dec-2016, 20:25
The most successful photographer in the Dakotas was F. Jay Haynes. I saw his camera gear in a Montana museum last summer. He had rapid rectilinear lenses from Ross, a Voigtlander for a 20x24, and a few B&L lenses including a Rapid Universal. Most of his lenses looked to be rapid rectilinears. He was active 1876 to about 1920. Seems like every town big enough to have a hotel had a photographer out here, and I don't think many of them were all that successful. Many seemed to shoot post cards with a 120 roll film camera and simply contact printed that onto a 3x5 card.

Kent in SD

Leszek Vogt
30-Dec-2016, 20:32
Couple that I'm aware of: Scovill - Waterbury Lens.....and Voigtlander Collinear Series II #4. Surely, Jim has to have some up his sleeve.