View Full Version : My new page on Petzval lenses

4-Apr-2008, 07:14



4-Apr-2008, 07:29
Excellent resource--thanks.

Joe Smigiel
4-Apr-2008, 07:33
Very informative page. Thanks for creating it.


Pete Watkins
4-Apr-2008, 07:47
This is fascinating, thanks. The research must have taken ages.

4-Apr-2008, 09:20
Thanks Dan. I am starting a new hobby -- trying to educate myself on vintage lenses!


Gordon Moat
4-Apr-2008, 09:50
Hello Dan,

Nice resource page. I have been corresponding a bit with Milan on Holmes, Booth & Haydens lenses. Since late 2007, I have been trying to reconstruct a time-line for serial numbers for that company:


So far getting accurate serial number information tied to dates is quite difficult. There have been a few key finds, that correspond with other technologies, like Waterhouse stops in 1858 (patent date).

Anyway, I would like to include No. 6022 pictured on your page in the serial number list. If you would like that listed with a link to your page, I would be happy to include that. This is purely a resource, and has no commercial use.


Gordon Moat Photography (http://www.gordonmoat.com)

Ole Tjugen
4-Apr-2008, 12:41
There's a typo or two at the end there.

Voigtländer & Sohn were in "Wien" (first), then "Wien & Braunschweig", and then only "Braunschweig". The English spelling of "Braunschweig" is "Brunswick", if you want to confuse matters even more. ;)

4-Apr-2008, 14:00
Thanks! Nicely done.

4-Apr-2008, 14:17
Very nice.

Steven Barall
4-Apr-2008, 14:30
This is extraordinary. I appreciate it immensely. Thank you.

4-Apr-2008, 15:52
Thanks for all the comments !

Gordon - by all means.


4-Apr-2008, 16:41
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Alan Davenport
4-Apr-2008, 16:58
I'm sure it was good while it lasted...

4-Apr-2008, 17:17
WOW - 500 hits in 6 hours....it shut down the page... the page will be back up at 4am.


Jim MacKenzie
4-Apr-2008, 17:39
Good reason to set up your own web server. :)

Jan Pedersen
4-Apr-2008, 19:07
Thank you Dan. Lot's of good information in one place. Very nice work.


Jim Galli
5-Apr-2008, 00:07
Dan, What a great page! Glad to find myself in there a couple of places :D Jim

Paul Fitzgerald
5-Apr-2008, 07:41
Hi Dan,

Lovely, thanks.

Not to throw wrench into the monkey works BUT I do have a Voigtlander 'C' model #22416 marked Wein, Braunschweig. I thought it was an early Euryscope, suprise, suprise.

5-Apr-2008, 09:37
I'll have to let Milan know about your lens ! If anyone is interested, I just listed a rare Harrison lens on ebay with an article about the lens




Bruce Schultz
5-Apr-2008, 10:46
I had been told that the Harrison lens I bought a couple months ago was made in 1865, but your chart shows its serial number of 9116 would put it between 1862 and 1863.
That's terrific because I use this lens for my civil war reenactment photography.

5-Apr-2008, 11:17
Marcus Root wrote in his 1863 book that Harrison made approx 8800 portrait lenses by then and about 330 Globe lenses..... so 9116 should be before 1865

Gordon Moat
5-Apr-2008, 11:31
I think dating many of these old lenses is very difficult without some form of records from the original companies. We have patent dates for some aspects of optics, like Waterhouse stops in 1858, and other patent dates for lens designs. We have an additional complication with Petzval type lenses, in that the original patent was only valid in Austria, and copies of the design appeared world-wide not long after the original patent. I have also seen some speculation that other later lens design patents were copied by some companies, though another explanation might be that some companies did not patent some designs in order to lessen the chance of copies being made.

So if original stops are not present, then it is possible to date a lens prior to 1858, though some evidence (Kingslake) suggests that similar devices to Waterhouse stops were in use in 1857 (but not patented). Another issue is that lenses without Waterhouse stops were made after 1858, because not all photographers wanted those stops for their lenses. Other patent inscriptions on lenses at best indicate a lens could not have been produced prior to that date, though could have been produced years after a patent date. Better information is actual old sales receipts indicating serial numbers, though there are few such documents still existing.

As far as historical accuracy for re-enactments, I think that as long as the design of a particular lens could have been available at a given point in time, then it should be valid in usage. A difference of a couple years should not be cause for concern, because I think it is too difficult to pinpoint a year with any accuracy in most investigations. One that I have still not resolved is the lens Captain A.J. Russell USMRR received from Holmes, Booth & Haydens in early 1863; I don't think it was a Petzval type design, though that leaves the question of what design; I have been unable to find any serial number information for that, despite it being a government purchase.

Anyway, Dan, I have updated the information at http://hbh.gordonmoat.com and I thank you for sharing that information on No. 6022.


Gordon Moat Photography (http://www.gordonmoat.com)

5-Apr-2008, 11:56
Thanks Gordon. I believe central, inserted Stops were being made before 1858.

Below, Lake Price writes in his book, A Manual of Photographic Manipulation, in May of 1858, how the year before ( 1857 ) he had stops made to insert between the combinations of the portrait lens groups(center of the lens). This was in opposition to stops that were inserted behind the front or in front of the front lens group.




5-Apr-2008, 12:40
and here is what he invented - again in early 1857...


5-Apr-2008, 13:53
Marcus Root wrote in his 1863 book that Harrison made approx 8800 portrait lenses by then and about 330 Globe lenses..... so 9116 should be before 1865

Make that in his 1864 book.... quote: "Up to May 15th, 1863, he had constructed eight thousand eight hundred and seventeen of the lenses in general use, and three hundred and seven of his new globe lenses, so highly prized for landscape-photography copying, &c." -The Camera and the Pencil By Marcus Aurelius Root (US) 1864"

Dirk Rösler
6-Apr-2008, 17:51
Thank you for the excellent write-up.

I bought a Globe Portrait Lens from a fellow forum member - any idea where this fits into the history?

Gordon Moat
6-Apr-2008, 18:19
Thanks for the extra reference Dan. At least with the HB&H serial number list, I have one low serial number lens with slot for stops. However, rather than use that for the basis on production dating, a couple higher number lenses correspond with other designs, which is why I list No. 4275 as estimate 1859; it might be as early as 1857. The highest number lens on the list is the current time setter, along with No. 9033 (inspected by Milan). Both those later lenses meet some other comparisons, like stamping matching lamps produced by HB&H.

Generally, I am estimating due to a lack of data. Rather than assume the earliest date, I am trying to match significant similar photographic developments, or other production items. Honestly, I am surprised at the lack of information, and that I have been unable to gather more serial number information. However, I hope this will improve in the future.


Thanks again!

Gordon Moat Photography (http://www.gordonmoat.com)

7-Apr-2008, 02:51
I agree Gordon with your comments..

HBH's aperture patent of June 1859 is on the lens marked 6022, so I concluded that serial #'s ~5500 to ~6200 cant be early than mid 1859. And since patents typically took 6 to 12 months to get approved, it was probably applied for in late 1858.

What is really a mystery is what happened after about 1864..... There are comments in the literature that they couldnt compete with Harrision... and eventually left the lens business..... Towler has an ad in his 1865 ( written in 1864 ) book for HBH, but I have not found any ads after that date for HBH....

I applaud your efforts Gordon and will forward any info I get so your page becomes the central HBH resource.



7-Apr-2008, 02:52

I'd like to see a photo of your lens.

email me at dcolucci AT aol.com


Gordon Moat
7-Apr-2008, 11:25
. . . . . . . .

What is really a mystery is what happened after about 1864..... There are comments in the literature that they couldnt compete with Harrision... and eventually left the lens business..... Towler has an ad in his 1865 ( written in 1864 ) book for HBH, but I have not found any ads after that date for HBH....

I applaud your efforts Gordon and will forward any info I get so your page becomes the central HBH resource.



Thanks Dan. The last three lenses on my listing, and especially the last two, are currently determining the time-line more than other examples. At least with the two stamped serial numbers, I was able to determine that the stamping is original, and not re-issues nor later numbering change. Using that, I figured that HB&H got a stamping set-up for all their production, not just lenses. After looking through images of many lamps made by HB&H, I found some that showed similar stamped numbering, which created a little ability to match information. The oldest lamps showing similar numbering were 1867, which is why I date the final lenses at that point in time. They might actually be earlier production, though Milan considers No. 9033 to be a copy of a Ross Doublet design, which dates to 1866. So these things somewhat correspond, but I am still not comfortable with the later dates. My early investigations seemed to indicate no lenses much after 1864, somewhat like you have indicated.

As I put it to someone helping me on this listing, "Where is Antiques Roadshow when you need them?" It helps to remember that the pace of information was very slow in the mid 1800s, unlike today, so I think plus or minus a year would be very good accuracy.


Gordon Moat Photography (http://www.gordonmoat.com)

Gordon Moat
7-Apr-2008, 16:25
Okay, tough to find patents, but this looks like it could be it:


In case that does not work, Google has a Patent search area, and I used June 1859 Lens as the search terms. If this is the device, it certainly looks cool, and very different than the usual Waterhouse stops I have seen.



8-Apr-2008, 04:34
What a magnificent body of work, very informative and thorough. Would the additional
information be of use ? I have a Dallmeyer lens numbered 1204 which I guess dates it to the first year of manufacture, has no reference to model or patent and must be one of the earliest surviving lens from that maker . Any further information appreciated and thanks again.

8-Apr-2008, 11:44
Excellent. Unfortunately it will help in bringing the prices of those lenses even higher. I am looking for one, for some months now, and have been outbid on ebay all the time. Wagner

8-Apr-2008, 15:37
Gordon - yup thats the patent. And if you search the names of the inventors you'll find more interesting tidbits....

8-Apr-2008, 15:42
voightf64 - its certainly an early Dallmeyer and certainly a Petzval. Probably identical to the late Ross Petzval's.

9-Apr-2008, 03:48

Your lens actually has some interesting history. James Smith out of Chicago started/acquired a photographic supply house and "Globe" was the trade name he used for cameras and lenses he sold. The cameras and lenses were made by other firms - but he relabeled them under the "Globe" line. Your lens appears to be a petzval and is circa 1880's.

You can read more about James Smith here:

attached is a blurb from 1897 Wilsons Photographic Magazine


2-Nov-2008, 05:04
please note my Petzval Page has a new address:



Alex Wei
4-Nov-2008, 21:09
Dan, thank for the hard work, enjoy reading the new webpage.