View Full Version : Is THIS the Holy Grail?

Richard K.
10-Dec-2009, 15:47
Well, one of them anyway, or is there a grailier one? :)

Harrison & Schnitzer American Globe

10-Dec-2009, 16:57
I own a liesegang globe lens. While I have seen several CC Harrison & Schnitzer ones, I haven't seen another liesegang one.

However, I'm sure either one would get the job done ;)

10-Dec-2009, 17:13
If you want to spend a lot of money for an F30 landscape lens....

10-Dec-2009, 17:41
Obviously my knowledge of lenses is somewhat limited but how would this lens compare with a more recent lens? Is this an interesting lens more for historical value or does it perform as well?

Richard K.
10-Dec-2009, 18:46
Obviously my knowledge of lenses is somewhat limited but how would this lens compare with a more recent lens? Is this an interesting lens more for historical value or does it perform as well?

My knowledge is totally limited but I've developed a large interest in historical lenses and photographers. So, I think that the lens is interesting mainly for its historical value (made in 1862). I imagine that as well as being slow, it would suffer from a lot of spherical aberration..

Gene McCluney
10-Dec-2009, 19:06
This "might" be the holy grail for wet-plate photographers that want to take wide view outside scenics using accurate period optics.

10-Dec-2009, 19:24
If "holy grail" means something I'd do anything or pay anything for, and sell all my other lenses for, nah. It was a first somewhat flat, somewhat sharp wide angle design. It was well liked at a time that there weren't other choices. 5 years later there were. I do my wetplate landscapes with other period designs (at f12 or so) that are cheap because they are not tagged "holy grail" by others.

11-Dec-2009, 02:28
As to the question regarding the image quality:

The abberations are quite well corrected (Consider that this lens is used at small apertures). The biggest issue with the design is that it was prone to "flare" (A brighter circular area in the middle of the image) because of internal reflections.

Steven Tribe
11-Dec-2009, 02:58
Historically interesting - Yes. A good user - No. Mainstream optical development in the 19th Century - No. About the same league as the Sutton Water lens - but much more common. Even in 1892, Trail Taylor talks about it as though it was an historical oddity with flare and ghosting problems in use.

11-Dec-2009, 05:07
You can see my page on the Harrison Globe Lens here:



Mark Sampson
11-Dec-2009, 07:52
It's probably not even the Magic Bullet (although I believe Carleton Watkins used one).

Richard K.
11-Dec-2009, 08:41
It's probably not even the Magic Bullet (although I believe Carleton Watkins used one).

Hmm, Watkins' photographs seem OK to me...:)

Brian Ellis
11-Dec-2009, 17:14
What a disappointment. From the title I thought this was going to be a thread about a 40 gig digital back for under $5,000. : - )

11-Dec-2009, 18:14
a globe?

i have been lazy to get out and shoot with it.....maybe this week.

Richard K.
11-Dec-2009, 20:27
a globe?

i have been lazy to get out and shoot with it.....maybe this week.

Well, since you're not using it....:rolleyes: :D

11-Dec-2009, 21:14
Kingslake devotes about a paragraph to these, suggesting that the gimmick of having the outer spherical surfaces fall on the same sphere had no optical significance, and in fact the lens avoided the ghosting and flare much more effectively when the air space decreased.

He also said that Harrison made them in large numbers and they remained popular for quite a while.

Sounds like not rare enough to be a collector's Holy Grail.

Rick "zipping right along, too, at f/30" Denney

Richard K.
11-Dec-2009, 21:24
I'm often guilty of pursuing the wrong holy grail! Anyone want to buy an 8-track? Beta tapes? :rolleyes:

Steven Tribe
12-Dec-2009, 03:31
Kingslake must have been using Trail Taylor's experiments before 1892.

"... it does not seem to have occured to C.C. Harrison, the maker, to have set aside the 'globe' idea in their construction, and mounted them a little closer together. This slight modification we found to exocise the ghost entirely.

The 'Globe' was subject to modifications by other makers of the period and country, but the same general feature pervaded them all."

12-Dec-2009, 06:09
The Globe, by Harrison + Schnitzer, is a highly valued collectible, running from $ 700 to $ 1700 in cost depending on condition, size, and the auction...etc....

It is a bit of a "collectors" Holy Grail as it really represents a major step toward ultra-wide angle lens development ( and a wide angle lens with a flat field ), and was designed by America's "first" internationally recognized photographic optician, Charles C Harrison ( photo attached ).

While it is oft talked about as being a "popular lens" - that is relative to the times - I would hazard a guess ( and with some data from Milan Zahorcak ) that the total quantity of Harrsion Globes made were probably 5,000 or so, if not less... Fast forward 145 years, and finding one today in complete condition with a flange is no easy task....


12-Dec-2009, 06:56
To add to what CC Harrison posted on the historical importance, popularity, value etc:

1. I think the lens was marketed very well. People were really convinced by the point that a lens modelled like the human eye was the optimal design (which is a quite reasonable). Even though soon improved lenses became available, people continued to prefer the globe lens, and were not convinced by scientific measurements proving other designs to be superior.

2. It is symmetrical and free from distortion.

3. It made wide angle photography much more convenient (You could hardly call the Sutton Panoramic lens convenient as you had to use curved glass plates...)

4. I've seen much lower production numbers quoted. The company also changed owned quite a few times, soon after the release of the globe lens.

Just a few things that, in my opinion, and to the significance of this lens. Also, if you see how crazy collectors are about lenses such as the goerz hypergon, I'd say the globe lens deserves some attention as well.

12-Dec-2009, 07:25
And to follow up on what Wimpler said...

I too have seen production figures as low as 2,000 on the Globe based on Serial numbers etc... but certainly less than 5,000.

Since no Harrison Petzval has been seen with a serial # greater than the 12,000 range, even the Petzvals are "uncommmon"

CC Harrison was given loans by Scovill and EHT Anthony about 1861 to help finance his operations, and Anthony owned a fairly substantial interest in the firm...about 1862-3, Anthony sold those interests to Nelson Wright ( see attached # 1 ), then after Harrsion died in 1864, Wright sold out to American Optical late 1864/early 1865 ( see attached # 2 from 1866 Humphrey's Journal advertisement)....Then, about 1867, American Optical was bought out by Scovill ( see attached #3).....The Globes would continue to be sold thru about 1872ish...then Richard Morrison took center stage as the heir apparent as America's finest photographic optician and with his 1872 Patented Wide Angle Lens with significantly improved performance over the Globe ( see attached # 4 )....


PS - Joseph Zentmayer was also part of the Globe story..... Although primarily a Microscope maker/optician, he set out to prove he could improve upon the Globe lens in 1865-66*.... See http://www.americanartifacts.com/smma/micro/zenobit.htm for more information.... The Zentmayer Lens is as rare as could be.... Much more the "Holy Grail" of American Lens collectors than the Globe....by far.... see post below

* The story is a bit more complicated and involved Coleman Sellers....

12-Dec-2009, 07:49

Richard K.
12-Dec-2009, 08:15
Wimpler and CCHarrison, thanks for providing the context that evaded me when I started this post! :) Fascinating stuff. Can you recommend *another book on 19th and early 20th lens history? Thanks!

*I have Kingslake

Richard K.
12-Dec-2009, 08:25
......and with some data from Milan Zahorcak......

Sorry for my ignorance :o , but is this a reference to a book? If so, do you have a title? Thanks!

12-Dec-2009, 08:44
milan is person. he is one of the most knowledgeable people on the subject

12-Dec-2009, 08:57
In French:

Traité encyclopédique de photographie de Charles Fabre, 1889

In German:

Die Photografischen Objektive, Josef Maria Eder, 1911
(Part of Ausfuhrliches Handbuch der Photographie (Band 1, 4. teil) )

In English:

A history of the photographic lens, Rudolf Kingslake, 1989
(part available on google books: http://books.google.com/books?id=OJrJrEJ-r9QC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Rudolf+Kingslake&hl=nl&cd=4#v=onepage&q=&f=false)

Photographic optics: including the description of lenses and enlarging ... , Désiré van Monckhoven,1867
(google books: http://books.google.com/books?id=RzhMAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=nl&source=gbs_navlinks_s#v=onepage&q=&f=false)

In Dutch:

Het fotografische objectief, H.M. Dekking, 1947

That is the sources I use most often

There are a lot of old lens catalogues on http://cameraeccentric.com/info.html that contain a lot of valuable info.

And here is an interesting article on the history of lens design:

IMAGE (1982. vol 25. issue 3–4.)

12-Dec-2009, 09:04
There is no single book that tells the entire story but here are some favorites:

The Origins of American Photography: From Daguerreotype to Dry-Plate, 1839-1885: The Hallmark Photographic Collection at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Hardcover)....http://www.amazon.com/dp/0300122861?tag=antiquclassic-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=0300122861&adid=17D2132AY833VXCNNC58&

Images and Enterprise: Technology and the American Photographic Industry, 1839-1925.... http://www.amazon.com/dp/0801835496?tag=antiquclassic-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=0801835496&adid=1FDF9MBJN8YQP3W34RCY&

The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography ( in which Milan writes the lens section )......http://www.amazon.com/dp/0240807405?tag=antiquclassic-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=0240807405&adid=1GDWTKG5EX3RGAPAMWQ4&

The History of Photography: As Seen Through the Spira Collection ....http://www.amazon.com/dp/0893819530?tag=antiquclassic-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=0893819530&adid=1GDWTKG5EX3RGAPAMWQ4&

Photography and the American Scene: A Social History, 1839-1889 (Paperback).....http://www.amazon.com/dp/1597405868?tag=antiquclassic-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=1597405868&adid=1GDWTKG5EX3RGAPAMWQ4&

Camera: A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital......http://www.amazon.com/dp/1402756569?tag=antiquclassic-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=1402756569&adid=1GDWTKG5EX3RGAPAMWQ4&

You can also search the "Wood & Brass" Forum I founded many years ago ( now archived ) here http://lists.kjsl.com/pipermail/woodandbrass/ of which Milan was a frequent writer...

And finally the current Wood & Brass Forum on Yahoo Groups ( alive but on life support ) http://groups.yahoo.com/group/woodandbrass/


Richard K.
12-Dec-2009, 09:09
Thank you, Wimpler and Dan...:)

I'll now be spending some time on ABEBooks...:D

Richard K.
12-Dec-2009, 09:33
And here is an interesting article on the history of lens design:

IMAGE (1982. vol 25. issue 3–4.)

I downloaded this issue from GEH but it stops at page 27 (the good stuff starts on P. 37). Do they allow only a partial DL? Thanks!