View Full Version : Brohmke barrel lens...?

Jon Wilson
6-Dec-2009, 21:12
I picked on a little brass lens which reminds me of a Voightlander lens, but is inscribed "C. Brohmke & Company" and appears to have been made in Braunscheig. Serial No. 80x and has "4" at the front portion of the barrel. It appears to be be a RR lens. I believe it has a focal length of 11 inches (280mm) with an aperture of about f6.2 with a waterhouse slot. The lens barrel is about 2.75 inches in length and glass lens diameter of 1.75 inches.

I have not had a chance to use it yet, but plan to try it out soon. Does anyone have any information on this barrel lens and its maker? All assistance is appreciated. Jon

Steven Tribe
7-Dec-2009, 03:10
You havn't quite got the letters right, I think - but I'll get back to you if I find the name. But they are a very respected company who seem to have stopped when Voigtländer moved into Braunschweig (Brunswick). There a few other good makers in town as well - all with low productions. I have a theory that this company was a cover organisation for Voigtländer itself as the engraving style is almost the same as Voigtländer's! The N in the No. is very like the usual Voigtländer. We forget now that there were political and probably trade barriers between the German States and the Austrio- Hungarian Empire. Perhaps Voigtländer devised a company construction to enter the German market tariff free? Another odd thing is that they apparently never reached 1,000 in their serial numbers - which is surprising for an obviously well made objective series. I have seen about 4 of these offered, especialy on Germany e**y - all serial numbers have 3 digits only. If you post a photo I will be able to give/confirm the name.

Steven Tribe
7-Dec-2009, 03:15
Another reason for the similar engraving could be that they had a formal/informal agreement with the engravers at Voigtländer (down the street!) - engraving in a professional way is a real skill. And Voigtländer's people engraved in the way that they knew best!

Steven Tribe
7-Dec-2009, 03:27
OK, the name is Böhmke. This is a known german surname as well! A third theory is that these lenses were only were supplied with their own cameras (they had a small camera production). And that they insisted that the supplier down the street, put their own name on the lens! This was often the case with the well known camera makers in the UK at the time.

Steven Tribe
7-Dec-2009, 03:50
Once again! Size 4 means this is an 8x10 lens. I would think this is a wide angle size 4Euryskop given your dimensions. Most of these where supplied with wheel stops - but others, with more knowledge will contribute soon!

Dirk Rösler
7-Dec-2009, 06:15
Hi, I found this on a German web page:

"Neben Voigtländer produzierten im letzten Drittel des 19. Jahrhunderts in Braunschweig heute fast vergessene Firmen, wie Häring, Kranz, Böhmke, E. Trappe, Müller…. zumindest Objektive, teilweise auch Apparate. Diese Werkstätten waren von Ex-Voigtländer-Mitarbeitern gegründet und mussten nach einem von Voigtländer gewonnenen Prozess wieder schließen."

These small companies were founded by former Voigtländer employees and made lenses and cameras. They were forced to close after Voigtländer took them to court.

Fascinating. I am from Braunschweig myself and visited the Voigtländer company archives this summer. After the demise of the company the archives are open to the public in the city archives. Research is not so easy however. The documents are catalogued, but not by content, but by nature of the document. To retrieve the material a fee is levied and also you can only have 1-2 boxes at a time, which is a slow process. I have however seen Harting's calculation of the Heliar and some other original documents. Braunschweig is not really an exciting place, it has to be said, but it is full of photo history.

Steven Tribe
7-Dec-2009, 07:02
I have seen objectives from Häring, Kranz (quite common) and Böhmke - all of the exquisite- quite worthy of Voigtländer - but not the other two! I think that Häring also had an engraving that looked a lot like Vogtländer. I feel that the story about a court case seem unlikely as, well, certainly Kranz anyway, produced quite a lot of objectives over quite a period of time. Perhaps it was more something to do with wage levels/ poaching of skilled labour at some stage, rather than real competition. Voigtländer had really wind in their sails/sales (pun) at this time.

Jon Wilson
7-Dec-2009, 09:28
Dear Steven & Dirk, Thank you for your assistance. It is nice little lens. I will have to put it on my 11x14 and see how much coverage it really has. I will also see if I can post some shots of the lens and sample shots with it. :)

Steven Tribe
7-Dec-2009, 10:04
If it is a "Clone" of the series VII Euryscope, then it will cover 11x12 "at smaller stops". CCHarrison has a B.F & Co. catalogue on his website with very good info (physical dimensions and figures) from Voigtländer.

Dirk Rösler
7-Dec-2009, 19:04
I feel that the story about a court case seem unlikely as, well, certainly Kranz anyway, produced quite a lot of objectives over quite a period of time.

Remember this is Germany around 100 years ago. Several years could lie between start of production by the smaller guys to the conclusion of the court case, enough time to produce quite a bit of product. The story seems plausible to me, although one would have to check the company records to be sure.

Steven Tribe
8-Dec-2009, 03:29
What you say about Voigtländer closing them all down could well be true. But I just have a deep mistrust of local historian "facts" which get passed on. I live 100 meters from a bronze age tumulus, which everyone in the village used to say was " a mass grave of the drowned Swedish marines who drowned in our local sea battle in the 17th Century"!

Voigtländer started production in the Duchey of Brunswick in 1852 - even though the "und Braunschweig" appeared much later. Kranz is reported to have left Voigtländer in or around 1858. He produced a good number of large Petzvels - many without Waterhouse stops. Gandolfi has posted a couple of photos of one here. He must have continued to the late 1860's at least as there are a couple of portable aplanats with waterhouse stops with number 6089 and 6187. So he had 10 years of production at least with these two styles and high serial numbers.

Häring is reported to have left Voigtländer in 1862 - quite early too.

Böhmke seems to have been a much later refugee from Voigtländer and doesn't appear to have made petzvals - just products that look an awful lot like Voigtländers in the 80's. If there was a civil court action, it was probably just Böhmke, involving perhaps the engraving style and the similarities with Euryscopes!

I don't think a court case would have taken years! Brunswick was a small, fairly independent state within the post-Bismarck German Federation with it's own legal system (I think).

If there was a court case than this Böhmke lens was perhaps the cause of it!