View Full Version : Very early bronzed Voigtländer Petzval

17-Sep-2018, 07:48
Dear folks,

I came across a very unusual Voigtländer Petzval lens that dates back to 1852 (#4071). The lens is in great shape glasswise and it is big 16" focal length and fast (f3.8), but the lens is black!
I am pretty sure the lens isn't bronzed by age but by chemicals (as one knows from waterhouse stops). Additionally, the shade is not bronzed but painted - what looks a bit ugly.

Did anyone of you find such an early example of bronzed lenses from Voigtländer? Could that be ordered that way, or was it made afterwards?

Cheers... and thanks!

Steven Tribe
17-Sep-2018, 12:27
I have seen a few brass studio lenses which have been painted black in the early 20th century, so that they looked to be a recent purchase by the Studio owner, rather than something from the middle Victorian era! But not professionally done with copper nitrate like yours.

Perhaps not done by Voigtlander or the owner, but by an instrument maker (telescope) who wanted the bought-in lens' finish to match the brass finish on the rest of the instrument?

18-Sep-2018, 18:32
Here is what I'll bet it is: The lacquer was removed in the past, and it was polished. Raw brass turns black after 20 years or so. Totally, absolutely black. I've had quite a few that you wouldn't believe were yellow brass under the patina, but they were.

18-Sep-2018, 23:53
Thanks Steven and Garrett!

I've never seen such a black brass before but maybe both of you are right :-) We will never know. I just wanted to know if there is a chance that came from factory. Here a picture of the lens:

19-Sep-2018, 05:53
Thanks for showing the lens. It does look painted, at least the hood. And I'm not sure the screws on the barrel would have turned the exact same color black if it was just patina. It may have been refinished to be black at some point. I would be careful before considering polishing it. It's a very old lens. but that black is not a factory finish from that era, that I know of.

Here is a lens that was polished in the past, then turned black. I repolished it. I only do that if they've already had their lacquer removed, and were already polished in the past. And not to a valuable lens.


20-Sep-2018, 00:31
Thanks Garret, I won't polish the lens, but maybe the hood, I don't know yet. As a user first of all I need a flange for the lens :-)

Nice looking RR you got!