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View Full Version : Taylor, Taylor & Hobson lense set, convertible?, what can you tell me?



harlingpt
13-Aug-2011, 22:36
This is my first post to this forum :) though I have been lurking for a while. About 30 years ago I purchased a Sanderson Hand and Stand 4x5 camera with lenses. My idea was to fix it up and use it, but lacking a big enough enlarger, and being out of town a lot in those days, I never got around to it. Now my son is interested in photography prompting me to research this camera a bit.

I can find quite a bit of information about the camera, though I have not seen anything about its rear bellows extension. It also has a Heliar lense, which is pretty well documented. There are two other lenses about which I can find out almost nothing. One has no markings and the thread does not fit on the camera.

The other is a TTH lense set with 6 elements and I can find nothing similar on the web, including in searches of this forum. These elements make up different focal lengths labelled on the main part of the lense (containing diaphram) as W.A.R. FOC. 4.12 IN; R.V. EQ FOC. 8.44 IN; and R.R. EQ FOC. 7.4 IN. Elsewhere the lense is labelled Taylor, Taylor & Hobson, Leicester, No. 10111, and 6 1/2 x 4 3/4 No.3 CASKET. Individual lense elements are labelled W.A.R. FRONT, W.A.R. BACK, R.R. FRONT, R.R. BACK, and R.V. The lense box is labelled Taylor, Taylor & Hobson, Scientific Instrument Makers, Leicester, Eng. I think it probably dates to about 1912 or 1913.

So, I would be interested to know what you can tell me about this lense set. And, in more general terms how it fits together with the camera and other lenses as a kit - why this combination of gear, painted black (except the TTH lenses). Might it have been used for nature close ups or something similar.

Photos can be found at the following link. I apologise for the quality of some of them - my wife's point and shoot digital is difficult to control. The lense photos follow the camera photos.

https://picasaweb.google.com/HarlingPt/SandersonFieldCameraHandStandDeLuxeCa1913WithMacroBellows

Thanks in advance for your comments. :) This is a terrific forum.

Harling

harlingpt
13-Aug-2011, 22:56
Figures that after weeks of searching I post on this site and then find a very similar or even the identical set, on a Hong Kong website. No information though:
http://www.oldlensclub.hk/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=1127

Steven Tribe
14-Aug-2011, 01:00
This is what the Lens Vade Mecum says about your casket set. The VM is available at a low fee from CCHarrison here!
Yours is the Rapid Rectilinear set with the additional RV (Rapid View) meniscus landscape lens.
WAR means Wide Angle (Rapid) Rectilinear.

Caskets of RR, WAR and RV in the same sizes.
A casket set has been met with one barrel and glasses but with an extension ring to convert it from WAR to
RR perhaps, but it may have not been complete. These were continued in 1898 as an RR with a triplet Series
111 packaged as a casket. Possibly a WAR was the RR used. An unspecified casket was sold at No398x on
an Underwood of Birmingham 1/2plate camera

It is obviously the most expensive "option" with the best UK plate cameras in its time.

I think the Hong Kong gent is mistaken in saying his set is missing the "2nd" RV cell as these only have the rear cell. It is probably a spacer ring for conversion between RR and WAR that gives the empty section in the casket.
It may have still been available at the date you suggest, but is likely from the 1890's.

akfreak
14-Aug-2011, 02:34
Very Cool Camera and lenses. I would love to play with that glass. You son is going to ride first class getting to use that quality equipment. I hope he really understands how wonderful that stuff is. Really a nice kit!

Emil Schildt
14-Aug-2011, 03:18
uhmmm - that is a sweet lens set, I think.

I have a RP(portrait)V TTH lens (not casket) and I love it to bits!

harlingpt
15-Aug-2011, 11:20
Thanks for the feedback, and especially Steven for the information about this lense set. I agree that it is spacer ring or similar that is missing - there is one in my set and everything else he shows appears to be the same as what I have.

To make this camera really useable, its going to need a shutter - I know I can do longer exposures by covering/uncovering the lense, but that is not very versatile and requires experience too. The Goerz focal plane shutter is full of pin holes and redoing it is beyond my technical capacity. So, I assume that a shutter mounted on the lense is the way to go. Any suggestions for something that would work with these lenses, or if there is some other approach?

Steven Tribe
15-Aug-2011, 11:40
Making a good job of getting these focal plane shutters work is beyond anyone!
I would thought that it would be a good idea to get hold of Thornton-Pickard (T-P) front mounted simple shutter as your current selection of lenses have the same the same mounting size. There are more simple solutions and more expensive one (copal/sinar shutter). It is also possible to mount a modern shutter (Copal, Prontor, Compound ) as a rear extension - in front of the lens board. The old iris control is maintained, whilst the shutter gives exposure times. You would have to find a shutter type which has a front thread the same (unlikely) or slightly larger with a short adapter section. Renes, here, has shown how well and tastefully this can be done.

harlingpt
15-Aug-2011, 11:59
Thanks! research time again. I am feeling a bit like I did 30 years ago when I bought the camera - that there a lot of paths I have to go down before I will ever be able to take that first photo with this camera.

harlingpt
3-Jan-2017, 15:53
Updating this thread - the original link to photos was changed by the host sometime. At this time the following link is working for me on different browsers so I hope it works for you as well: https://goo.gl/photos/oAkHHQYj3wShWr7r5

Also, I have not got the camera working - so many variables. But this year I am getting serious about it and hope to get a shutter that works, fix light leaks (if any) and make some images with it.

Steven Tribe
4-Jan-2017, 04:01
Yes , the link works well!

Since the original posting (2011), I have have seen a few of these sets (complete and uncomplete!) listed and I managed to get one of the poorly described sets!

It is interesting that the position of the iris housing is such that the maximum aperture for the RV is much faster than in the standard RV (rapid view) from T,T & H. Which means it has virtually the same characteristics as the legendary RVP (rapid view portrait) version from T,T & H.

Taking a fresh look at the photos, it looks like the focal plane shutter is a version of the Goertz Ango shutter, which should make refurbishment easier!

RJ-
23-Mar-2018, 18:21
This is what the Lens Vade Mecum says about your casket set. [...]
Yours is the Rapid Rectilinear set with the additional RV (Rapid View) meniscus landscape lens.
WAR means Wide Angle (Rapid) Rectilinear.

Caskets of RR, WAR and RV in the same sizes.
A casket set has been met with one barrel and glasses but with an extension ring to convert it from WAR to
RR perhaps, but it may have not been complete. These were continued in 1898 as an RR with a triplet Series
111 packaged as a casket. Possibly a WAR was the RR used. An unspecified casket was sold at No398x on
an Underwood of Birmingham 1/2plate camera

I think the Hong Kong gent is mistaken in saying his set is missing the "2nd" RV cell as these only have the rear cell. It is probably a spacer ring for conversion between RR and WAR that gives the empty section in the casket.
It may have still been available at the date you suggest, but is likely from the 1890's.

Hi,

in his reference to a missing lens element, I wonder if the gentleman (link now deleted after a few years?) was referring to the absence of the M.A.R. focal length lens or arrived at his account of 'something missing' from finding extra [unfilled] slot spaces within the casket holder, which makes the complete set appear as if something is missing.

The Vade Mecum is only a guide, and probably incomplete. If the R.R., W.A.R. and additional R.V. are named in the Vade Mecum, has the "M.A.R." or [Mid-Angle Rectilinear] also been named?

As far as I can fathom, the complete casket convertible set of the TTH convertible lens casket comprised of 9 separate brass items. I've worked this schema out (knowledge painfully acquired!) for the Whole Plate format 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch casket kit (and not the half-plate casket kit above) - and there may be some deficiencies in my grasp of knowledge for this TTH convertible casket lens. Of the 9 brass elements, 1 brass element has no optical surfaces and acts as the tube for the more telephoto focal lengths. The other is the multi-focal length aperture brass ring.

The casket holder contained six slots to mount the 9 brass items in order to generate the convertible focal lengths of W.A.R.; R.R.; R.V. and the M.A.R. of the TTH casket convertible. Two far left slots, I presume, were created to hold handling elements during change over of focal lengths.

It is worse than sudoku trying to figure out how to mount this convertible lens and why two extra spaces in the casket exists. The most I can fathom, is that two slots to the left of the casket case were created by the maker, in order to facilitate changing the lens elements, since the design of the case strangely mounts the lens elements back to front in the resting position within the casket.

1. The multi-aperture scale, marked for W.A.R; R.R.; R.V. and M.A.R. [1] allows for 4x convertible focal lengths:

Wide Angle Rectilinear
Rapid Rectilinear
Rapid [Portrait] View (also called R.V.P) and
Mid-Angle Rectilinear


For Whole Plate format these are marked:

2. M.A.R [Front and Back*] [2] Focal length = 7.25 inches * signifies mounting on the casket barrel of the R.V within the casket

3. R.R. [Front and Back] [2] Focal length = 11.4 inches [symmetrical lens elements]

4. W.A.R. [Front and Back] [2] Focal Length = 5.31 inches

5. R.V. [Front and Back [1] Focal Length = 16 inches [The single element]

6. Brass barrel for conversion for use of no.3 & no.5

The TTH aperture dial and recessing lenses fit into shutter sizes from a Betax No.3 [in front of] and smaller however require dedicated spacer inter-threading if this is the final imaging solution.

Otherwise, front shutter mounting or focal plane shutters are required for faster ISO exposures.

I hope we can keep this thread somewhere - since it's been a challenge to source sufficient clarity and knowledge about this lens set before even getting to image on it!

Kind regards,
RJ

Mark Sawyer
23-Mar-2018, 20:11
You can read about them here:
https://books.google.com/books?id=bFoXAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA386&lpg=PA386#v=onepage&q&f=false

And here:

https://books.google.com/books?id=f7UaAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA1-PA61&lpg=RA1-PA61&dq=process+casket+lkens+cooke+1898&source=bl&ots=xd8DO5Gkej&sig=DrTXYShqJmVhDbZCa4jUqi6QNHU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1OyRVI3WDJXloASn_4KYAg&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false

Note that in 1898, the Rapid View (RV) is engraved as a "Landscape Lens", and is referred to as a "view lens" and a "rapid view lens", (both non-capitalized). I guess the official title of "Rapid View" came soon after...

RJ-
24-Mar-2018, 17:56
Thanks Mark -

Google is no better (but is getting better, once this thread is assimilated within!) than the Vade Mecum: both links above only reference up to 3 focal lengths of the casket lens which the original poster has already referenced years ago: the R.V.; W.A.R and R.R lens.

Neither identifies the fourth M.A.R. focal length, which exists for the whole plate [6 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch] casket set described above.

From the google books link - there were different iterations of the TTH casket lens (different price points?), at least in the smaller half-plate format - the second link shows a Cooke Casket with only 2 rectilinear focal lengths for at 7.5 inch f6.5 and 10.5 inch f11 which has only 3 slots in the casket; compared to the 3 focal length casket which has 8 slots for the lens elements forming 3 focal lengths of the more complete half-plate TTH Cooke casket lens kit. This set, seems to be the most apt description of what the original poster is describing within his ownership.

I'm still trying to reconcile the Rapid View [Portrait] lens as a landscape lens: at 16 inch for the whole plate format, it fits with the description of a short telephoto for the format. This thread links the particular characteristics of the TTH RVP lens which is consistent with the design of the convertible casket RV focal length:

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?94655-Rapid-View-Portrait-(RVP)-Pictorial-lens&highlight=rapid+view+portrait+rvp+pictorial+lens

Kind regards,
RJ

Mark Sawyer
24-Mar-2018, 19:48
...I'm still trying to reconcile the Rapid View [Portrait] lens as a landscape lens: at 16 inch for the whole plate format, it fits with the description of a short telephoto for the format.[/url]

Here's an article I wrote for the local camera club newsletter a while back. It may better explain the use of the term "landscape lens":

*************************

On Landscape Lenses
Mark Sawyer

Early Lens Development

Simple single-element lenses date back thousands of years, to ancient Assyria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and other cultures. These were primitive bi-convex magnifiers made of rock crystal, with glass lenses becoming common by the Middle Ages. Euclid offered theories on lens geometry by 300 BC, while Ptolemy wrote theories on optical refraction and reflection around 150 AD.

In 1595, the Dutch spectacle-makers Hans and Zacharias Jansen began experimenting using lenses in combination, leading to their invention of the first successful compound lens system in a microscope. The first telescope was also invented in Holland by another spectacle-maker, Hans Lippershey, in 1608, but greatly improved in a series of experiments by Galileo starting in 1610. Though revolutionary, these early lens systems had serious problems, most notably chromatic aberration, which focused different colors of light at different distances.

Up until that time, only Crown glass, based on silica, soda, and lime, existed, and development was mainly by trial and error. In 1674, Englishman George Ravenscroft created the earliest Flint glass, (aka "lead crystal"), which was made from flint rather than sand for silica, included lead dioxide, and had a much stronger refractive properties. This allowed new designs worked out using two glasses of different refractive indexes working together, leading to the creation of the first achromatic lens, which focused all colors of light near the same plane, around 1730.

Credit for the first achromatic doublet is often given to Thomas Dollond, but the story has its twists. Chester Moore Hall actually designed the first achromat for a telescope in 1729, contracting the crown and flint glasses to two different lens-makers so they wouldn't know what they were working on. Both the lens-makers sub-contracted the work to anther lens-maker, George Bass, who recognized what Hall had designed, and by 1733, Bass was making and selling the achromats. In the 1750's, John Dollond became aware of Bass' lenses, and developed his own version, filing for a patent in 1758. Although by that time many opticians were making achromats, Dollond had the only patent. He never sought to enforce it, but after his death in 1761, his son Peter enforced it vigorously, putting some opticians out of business and making achromats quite expensive until the patent expired in 1772.

The Camera Obscura and the Wollaston Landscape Lens

The camera obscura was a drawing aid for artists used many centuries before photography was invented. The first lens placed on a camera obscura was a simple bi-convex lens, much like a common magnifying glass. It was much brighter than the original pinhole apertures, but suffered from a multitude of problems, most severely, a curved field focus that caused areas away from the center of the image to fall far out of focus. In 1804, William Hyde Wollaston created a positive meniscus lens for eyeglasses. In 1812, he fitted his lens to a camera obscura and found it gave a flatter field of focus and less spherical aberration, rendering the image much sharper across a 45-degree field of view at f/11. As camera obscuras were then most popular for making landscape drawings, Wollaston named the camera-mounted meniscus the "Wollaston Landscape Lens", probably the first use of the term "landscape lens" for a single lens.

Nicephor Niepce used a camera obscura with a Wollaston Landscape lens for his early photographic experiments in 1826. Louis Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot also used it for their earliest photography, and the Wollaston was still being used on inexpensive cameras into the mid-twentieth century.

The English and French Landscape Lenses

As Daguerre's experiments progressed, he found that while the Wollaston Landscape Lens performed somewhat acceptably at smaller apertures (f/11 to f/16), the Daguerreotype process needed much more light to reduce exposure times, and at larger apertures, the Wollaston performed poorly. It was also hard to focus, as being non-achromatic, it focused the blue and UV light the Daguerreotype was sensitive to at a different plane than the visible light. Daguerre contracted with Charles Chevalier, a well-known Paris optician to design a better lens. Chevalier combined the meniscus shape of the Wollaston with the achromatic properties of a crown-flint achromatic doublet to create what became known as the French Landscape Lens. Meanwhile, other early experimenters rediscovered the original plano-convex achromat that was then popular on telescopes. Used on a camera, it became known as the English Landscape Lens.

(It should be noted that in 1857, Thomas Grubb created a doublet Landscape Lens by reversing the crown and flint glasses on the French Landscape Lens. Although Grubb named it the Aplanat, and despite Grubb being Irish, it was also sometimes referred to as an "English Landscape Lens".)

Though the French and English Landscape Lenses were a great improvement over the Wollaston Landscape Lens, their aperture still needed to be closed down to f/11 or smaller for acceptable sharpness. Considering the slow sensitivity of the early processes, photographers demanded something faster, and in 1842, the French government sponsored a competition for a fast new photography lens. Chevalier won the competition with his Photographe Ó Verres CombinÚs ("Photography with Combined Glasses") lens, although Joseph Petzval's Portraitlinse was clearly the superior optic. But both Chevalier's and Petzval's lenses were compound (multi-element) designs with an achromat as the front element. Most early manufacturers made both these designs in such a way that the front element could be easily mounted by itself, so the lens could be used as a slow-but-wider-coverage Landscape Lens, or used in its entirety as a faster Portrait Lens.

As lens design progressed, new wide-angle lenses with multiple elements superseded the old Landscape Lenses, which being still very simple and cheap to make, were used on inexpensive box cameras. Landscape lenses were also part of Casket Sets of lenses which became popular in the 1880's. These sets contained a number of elements which could be used singly or combined to make compound lenses, usually Rapid Rectilinears.

The Cooke Rapid View

Taylor, Taylor, and Hobson, the English firm that later made the famous Cooke line of lenses, offered a landscape lens first engraved simply as a Landscape Lens, later renamed the Cooke Rapid View (R.V.) around 1900. It was sold as part of TT&H and Cooke Casket Sets, and as an individual lens. Though it didn't gather much attention at first, as Pictorial photography gained popularity in the 1890's, artistic photographers discovered the Cooke R.V. had a beautiful soft-focus rendition, with a sharp core image overlaid with a soft focus glow from the lens' outer edges when used wide open.

The Taylor, Taylor and Hobson firm hadn't meant for the lens to be used that way, but as sales grew, they recognized a good thing and redesigned the aperture mechanism to open a stop wider (f/8 instead of f/11) for more softness, and re-named it the Rapid View Portrait, (R.V.P.). The lens in both was exactly the same, however, and the smart photographer knew to just unscrew the aperture mechanism from the front of either lens to gain a maximum aperture of f/7.7. More than any other lens, the R.V. and R.V.P. landscape lenses helped define the look of early Pictorialist photography. When TT&H discontinued the R.V. and R.V.P. lenses in the early 1900's, demand was such that they brought it back again in 1911 as the Cooke Achromatic Portrait Lens.

A Deluge of Pictorial Landscape Lenses
With the success of the Cooke landscape lenses and the blossoming of Pictorialism as a fine art photography style, nearly every lens manufacturer came out with their own version of a soft focus landscape lens. A quick list of the more notable soft focus landscape lenses from the Pictorialist era includes the Pinkham and Smith Semi-Achromat, the Spencer Port-Land Lens (Ansel Adams' favorite soft lens), the Karl Struss Pictorial Lens, the Gundlach Achromatic Meniscus Lens, the Hanovia Kalosat, the Bausch & Lomb Portrait Plastigmat, the Kershaw Soft Focus Lens, the Kunst Plasticca, and the Oscar Simon Kronar.

The last two soft focus landscape lenses in large-scale production were the Kodak Portrait Lenses, phased out in the 1960s, and the Rodenstock Imagon, in production through the 1980s.

Today, there are still enough active photographers seeking and using soft lenses to keep prices on the historical lenses high. But for those looking for the effect, not the history, close-up diopter lenses can be had for a few dollars, and are faithful replicas of the Wollaston Landscape Lens. For a few dollars more, achromatic close-up lenses offer a look that fits in well with the achromatic landscape lenses of the Pictorialist era. For the large format photographers, these can all be found in sizes that screw into common modern shutters, like the 58mm Compur and Copal shutters. And for today's digital photographer, Lomography has recently come out with a 64mm f/2.9 achromatic landscape lens for Canon, Nikon, and Pentax DSLRs.

Steven Tribe
25-Mar-2018, 03:28
Just a few comments, Mark! It is only the worst copies of Dollond's optics that use the common mistake "Dolland". There is no doubt that T,T &H made their RRs and the RV - and the several versions of the casket set- well before there was any association with the Cooke triplet patentees. So I think it is misleading to use the Cooke name on products that were solely T,T & H designs. It is different for the later versions when the Cooke name was chosen to be used for their products.

Here is a recent sold set in very complete condition, but in a worn box, to brighten up the thread!

Mark Sawyer
25-Mar-2018, 11:25
Thanks, Steven! Right you are, and I did get my misspelling from seeing an old "Dolland" telescope, which was most likely a fake anyways. And I'm afraid I'm one of those who always considers Cooke and TT&H to be synonymous. TT&H added the Cooke name in 1893, and soon afterward all their lenses became "Cookes". I believe it was in 1998 that TT&H and Cooke Optics officially separated, with TT&H pursuing metrology and instrument making. I edited in the appropriate corrections...

RJ-
25-Mar-2018, 15:14
Here is a recent sold set in very complete condition, but in a worn box, to brighten up the thread!

The waterhouse stops are redundant and do not belong to this casket lens set although does add adornment - perhaps uselessly so - since the multi-focal length aperture ring can be seen inside the casket lens set. Also - no waterhouse aperture slot exists in any of the casket iterations I've seen.

There are 9 brass items making 4x focal lengths available in this casket lens kit too. Hooray - this is finally making sense.

What's interesting is that the fabled morrocan leather lens cap, also designed by TTH of Leicester, could not possibly fit inside the slotted allocations within the casket kit, lined of morrocan silk. The attention to detail from this lens maker is really outstanding.

Kind regards,
RJ

RJ-
25-Mar-2018, 15:19
Here's an article I wrote for the local camera club newsletter a while back. It may better explain the use of the term "landscape lens":
...


Mark - that's fabulous. You've really put the context of the landscape lens back into its historical context where the pictorialists intended. Thank you for clarifying this.

Your camera club is very privileged to have a member like you contributing. It makes such a refreshing change from the the ubiquitous <<mine is bigger than yours>> camera club which infected much of public engagement with photography as a aesthetic passion over on this side of the ocean.

Thank you for sharing.

Kind regards,

RJ