View Full Version : Montgomery Ward made lenses?

David G. Gagnon
28-Jun-2006, 12:28
Sorry for borrowing from the recent thread concernong Zeiss lenses!

I have a lens labeled "8x10 Rapid Rectilinear No 2951" "Montgomery Ward & Co Chicago"

Can anyone tell me anything about it? It doesn't have a flange with it, but rigging it up to a lensboard and measuring from the front of the board to the ground glass, I get a measurement of 12 3/4". The front and rear cells appear to be the same. It's not in a shutter and is in a long (about 3 1/4") brass barrel. It has marks beside f stop numbers for all the marks except for the smallest and largest openings...the numbered marks ar 8, 11, 16, 22, 32, and 44.Forty-four? What's up with that?. Any ideas why where there should be f stop numberes noted beside the marks, there is nothing? Focus shift or diffraction that would cause using those two aparture openings to be a problem?

Thanks in advance,


28-Jun-2006, 14:38
In more modern times, Ward's rebadged photo gear (along with other things) just like Sears did. I would suspect that is the case here but for the vintage. Could be though...

- Randy

Donald Brewster
28-Jun-2006, 15:38
No, they didn't make lenses, but they definitely sold rebadged cameras and lenses throughout its history, often from leading makers. You can probably find out about this particular lens by looking for some old Montgomery Wards catalogs. There was an annual photo catalog that actually had quite a bit of information. MW seemed to have a strong connection to Seneca and ROC, so your lens may be by one of them.


David G. Gagnon
28-Jun-2006, 17:29
Thanks for the replies thus far. I suspected that it was rebadged, but I didn't have a clue who actually may have made it. I'll search for old Mont. Ward catalogs.

Does anyone out there have one that this looks like? I know there were many of this style, back in the day.


Jason Greenberg Motamedi
28-Jun-2006, 18:12
Probably made by Wollensak like the Sears branded lenses (Seroco) lenses.

Glenn Thoreson
28-Jun-2006, 20:25
Marketing geniuses, Sears and Wards sold just about everything imaginable at one time or another, even houses. Sold anything and everything, actually manufactured little or nothing. The rapid rectilinear consists of a pair of cemented doublets. It can be amazingly sharp, even in the corners if you use it at less than it's maximum coverage.

Paul Fitzgerald
28-Jun-2006, 21:12
Hi David,

B&L, Goerz and Wollensak each rebadged lenses, so did European companies, but they didn't redesign them so look for the matching aperture ring, it does look different. The scale is the modern version not the old 'US' standard, I think most companies changed over in 1911-12. The extra stops may just be from a single aperture assm. being used with different lenses and remarked for each.

Nice looking lens, have fun with it.

David G. Gagnon
29-Jun-2006, 05:06
Paul F. said "B&L, Goerz and Wollensak each rebadged lenses, so did European companies, but they didn't redesign them so look for the matching aperture ring, it does look different."

Great information to have Paul. I hadn't thought of that being something that would be different. Thanks Paul.

Thanks also to the others that have posted thoughts and facts!


Jim Galli
29-Jun-2006, 06:54
It doesn't look like any of the B&L or Wollensak products of the same era (1900 + or -). The US was leaning heavily on French imports at that time and the numbers being displaced from the marks may be a clue as Europe was pushing for 6.3 9 12 18 24 36 instead of our 5.6 8 11 16 22 32 that finally won out. Many of the vintage voigtlander Heliars have both scales. Sometimes if you remove the glass cells completely from the barrels you'll find a clue written in pencil on the flat side of the glass. Darlot liked to write their name on the glass cells in pencil.

Paul Fitzgerald
29-Jun-2006, 07:56
Hi David,

ebay item #150002118423

kinda, sorta, almost, maybe but this one is marked in the old US series.

Have fun with the hunt.

domenico Foschi
30-Jun-2006, 02:58
it looks like a Ross cabinet lens

Jim Chinn
30-Jun-2006, 07:04
Rebadging was pretty common among Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Wards (as well as many other large regional retailers) with everything from tires to televisions. When I was kid my first telescope was a "monkey wards" 6" reflector that was a rebadged Mead. When I hit photo swap meets I still see lots of 35mm lenses with Sears branded on the barrel.