View Full Version : Taylor-Hobson Cooke Portrait Lens

10-Mar-2008, 07:43
From my other thread in the Camera section:

The big brass lens on the camera seems to be one that I can't find any mention of in GOOGLE searches. Here's what it said on the black ring holding the front element:

Taylor-Hobson Cooke Portrait Lens 12 1/2inch Series I. f/3.1 No. 108093

Those are the exact words from the lens. This was not a Series II nor was it an f/3.5. Min. f-stop: f/16. The lens had a short, integral hood and engraved on the barrel behind the hood was either "Push for maximum sharpness" or "Pull for maximum softness." Can't remember which and I didn't write it down. Either way, you pushed-pulled on the front of the barrell to change the amount of soft focus. The brass was in good shape. The lens board had a hefty spacer to keep the rear element in front of the Packard shutter. The glass looked decent but there was the beginnings of a couple fungus spots around the edges. The aperture worked fine.

Can anyone shed some light on this lens?

Kerik Kouklis
10-Mar-2008, 08:39
Definitely a desirable lens. Something like that would likely go for $400 to $1000 on ebay, depending on condition and how bad someone wanted it.

10-Mar-2008, 08:54
And whether or not they had a camera capable of supporting it.

I'm still baffled why there is no mention of this lens in the various lens tables that include many, many Taylor, Taylor & Hobson Cooke Series II(x) lenses.

Mark Sawyer
10-Mar-2008, 09:09
Sounds like a wonderful lens. The "f/3.1" caught my attention, as that's very bright for a 12.5 inch lens. I wonder if that's in the f/stop system or some other system. If it's f/stops (the f/ designation hints it is) then the interior diameter of the barrel would be just over 4 inches across, and the front element perhaps a little wider.

No mention of such a lens on Cooke's history pages:


You might contact Cooke Optics directly and ask about the lens.

Ole Tjugen
10-Mar-2008, 09:23
It's listed in the Vade Mecum:

(b) Portrait Series 1 These were noted in B.J.A. 1921 p557 in 3 foci as a fast big lens. Softness seems to be
controlled by turning the front of the mount. It did not have spectacles at that time as these seem to have
come in in the early 1920's, say before 1925..
8.25in for 4.25x3.25in
10.5in for 7x5in
12.5in for 6.5x4.75in
These are much more typical of the big triplet portrait lenses of the period, but must be hard to distinguish
from other Series lenses such as PRESSIC below. The point may be that the Series I was not corrected over
as wide an angle

Jim Galli
10-Mar-2008, 10:18
Wow, that was a nice fish that got away. Wish I had been the phone bidder :eek:

10-Mar-2008, 10:24
Thanks Ole! Now it's listed here and very searchable.

I can say for a fact that softness was controlled by a push-pull mechanism. I can also say that the lens is very big and very heavy for the stated coverage. Mark, the lens was every bit of 4" plus diameter.