View Full Version : Any idea about the maker of this Petzval?

18-May-2012, 08:42
I got this unmarked Petzval, with some fungal infection, for a decent price.
The only clue i have is that the lens comes from Germany.
My interest for old Petzvals is quite recent, and i don't have any lens with the same aesthetic features, so i have no idea about the maker.
I have learned about the peculiar hardware used by some makers, for example Bausch & Lomb or Darlot, which can help a lot in finding the same lenses for a cheaper price (because there is no reference on the barrel about the original maker).
In particular, i found two nice Darlots, one with waterhouse slot and the other for projection, which have no marks at all.
The shape of the knob and the black ring behind the lens shade are unmistakable... so i am reporting two examples which could be useful for those looking for a good find on the Web.
Here is a Petzval sold by the american importer:
and a Pulligny/Puyo soft lens, with the same "Darlot finish":

Unfortunately i am in the dark about my new lens. It looks a bit like some Ross Petzvals, but those i have seen had a totally flat focusing knob, if i'm not mistaken.
I hope that somebody could recognize the brand from the shape of some particulars, like the knob, the front cap, or the lens shade.
Thanks in advance for your help.



23-May-2012, 18:53
The lens arrived.
I guess it's one of those rare occurrences when the reality turns out much better than the dream.
It is HUGE, and the conditions are much better than expected, but a a small ding on the cap/shade.
To disassemble the elements i had to work very hard and use a lot of hammering. I had to grab the lens rim with one of those filter thread/lens rim straighteners, which i used as a substitute for a lathe clamp (which i don't have).
It took some time though.
The cells were reversed, one was cross threaded, but in the end i could remove the glass elements, and found that the fungus went away quickly and without traces.

I am giving a possible answer to my own question: the barrel looks practically identical to an Hermagis one.
Unfortunately the lens was dismantled for cleaning, probably long time ago, before the formation of the fungus, so the writing on the outside of the doublet is faded and very difficult to read.
There are a few words, this is for sure. At one time i had the impression to read "Voigtlander", but i am sure it was just a suggestion, because the barrel doesn't look Voigtlander, and i didn't find any reference to inscriptions by that maker.
The flange has five holes, like Hermagis petzvals, and the housing of the focusing shaft and the knob are also Hermagis-esque.
I am attaching two very bad pictures taken with my low cost phone, with no focusing. It is a true shame to post pictures like these in a photography forum...but i am more anxious to get a feedback than ashamed by my awful pics :)
Please let me know if you agree or see something which doesn't go with Hermagis aesthetics.
The total length including lens hood is just little more than 30cm, i can't be precise cause the lens is in pieces. The only thing that's still stuck is the flange, cause i have nothing which clamps so large a size, i'll look for a wooden vice to try again, without scratching anything.
The total FL is unknown so far, but i tried with the achromat, and it's something close to 60cm (just a quick guess, didn't measure). The diameter of the glass is about 8.5cm.
One very strange thing: unlike any other proj petzval i have seen, the back cell is reversed, like a Dallmeyer Patent, and like all other petzvals with adjustable softness (like the Eastman Portrait f/4 i have). My interest for petzvals is dating back a couple of years, not from the old days, so i don't have a solid experience, but i didn't find any reference to a reverse layout used in magic lantern lenses. Given that the cells were mounted at the wrong end, i am not sure that the orientation of the two back glasses is the original one.
Any help is very welcome.

Somehow i find it difficult to believe that a cheap unmarked projection petzval with fungi turns out to be a big Hermagis with perfectly cleanable optics.
It was sold by a camera shop with a good range of photographica items, so i repeat to myself that there must be something wrong somewhere...

have fun


Steven Tribe
24-May-2012, 09:39
Post the lens edge text anyway.
Sometimes just one letter can give a clue.
There have been some instances of the employees at the early big names making up lenses (in agreement with the employer?) - but with their names on the edges.
I have just cleaned a Cooke for fungus - not a sign now that is was there. Surface damage is typical for the new glass used in new designs after 1891!

24-May-2012, 09:42
Maybe it's of some interest for Voigtlander enthusiasts...
Similarities to Hermagis petzvals notwithstanding, the signature on the front achromat reads more or less like this:
"Voigtlander & Sohn Wien Braunschweig"

With the light of the day, the writings are more readable.
Here are the pics i have just taken. Handheld and in a hurry, but still possible to understand what's written.

I hope that some Voigtlander specialist would come forward and let me know if the back elements are to be assembled the conventional way, or the reverse (Dallmeyer) fashion.
One more thing, is it possible that a lens so big was sold for magic lantern use? Any chance that's so old to predate waterhouse stops?

I thanks in advance whoever will take the time to share his/her knowledge.

have fun


Steven Tribe
24-May-2012, 11:29
Voigtländer changed to other system for rear pairs about 1880.
Voigtlaender is a common replacement for Voigtländer in written German and the s in Braunschweig is the alternative "f"!
Just Braunschweig means after 1888.
Voigtländer did make projection Petzvals under the name "Projectos" - series I (f1.2) and II (F3.3). This is around 1913 and they used the same new system for the rear pair. This cannot be a "projectos" - unless the combined focal length somes down to 180mm - but probably made for another firm. They did make a very big projectos I size 4 which had a front lens of 85mm - so the necessary brass work was available.

24-May-2012, 14:18
Thanks Steven!
You are always the first to answer to my cries for help :)

After having repaired (well, sort of..) a bad ding on cap and shade (which also affected a little bit the cell rim), i reassembled all the stuff, and everything went smoothly. I hope that next time it would be a little easier to take the lens apart.
I couldn't wait any more because i was eager to get an idea of the focal length. From a quick and dirty assessment, done inside my living room, with the image of a light bulb, it should be around 250mm.
I have found that the thicker back glass is inscribed like the front achromat, with the exact same wording. I took a few more pictures, but the inscriptions at the back are not very easy to read.
During reassembly i found that there must be something wrong:
the front and back barrel threads are of different diameters, what's strange is that the cell with the air-spaced pair goes to the front, and the achromat to the back.
I even thought for a moment that the focusing assembly could have been reversed during a cleaning session, long ago... but the external thread for the shade must be at front of the tube, so the barrel is in its original configuration.
I am clueless, i can't imagine a petzval with a Dallmeyer type back cell fitted at the front, and the achromat at the back!
The only option that's left is that during the long life of the lens, the elements were fitted in the wrong cell.
I don't even know if it could be possible at all, cause i didn't check: i kept the elements of the two cells separate, and after cleaning i reassembled everything in the original place, with the maximum of care.
Now i understand why the achromat was at the back! There was no way to mount it where it belongs.

I am waiting for some help. Before taking the lens apart a second time, i must know what to do.
It's extremely easy to cross-thread a cell. Even starting with a perfectly flat plane, it's very easy to see that the cell has gone sideways, even after a couple of turns. The same attention was needed for the rings which keep the glass elements in place, other way it's too easy to cause some damage to the threads. I think it's because of the bid ding i found on the front of the objective, i guess i have been lucky to get everything back to its place with no problems.
No way i'm going to open and remount everything just for a clueless testing. If i'm going to do it, i must know in advance WHAT i have to do.
This is not the kind of lens which i would use as a test-bench to hone my photo-mechanic skills! :D

About the age of the lens:
if i understand correctly, the lens must be after 1888, because of "Braunschweig", and was probably made for another firm (inscriptions on the lenses, but no maker's name on the barrel); given its age, it's almost sure that it was sold for projection use, cause the Waterhouse stops were already commonplace.
Steven suggests the possibility that barrels made for in-house lenses were also used for commissioned lenses. I still have to google for pictures of "Projectos Series I" lenses, but a search for "Voigtlander Petzval" didn't bring up any design similar to that of my lens.

looking forward for some help about lens configuration and some more feedback about identification

have fun


24-May-2012, 14:22
Hi Steven

It was 1878 in which Voigtlander cemented the rear pair and was issued a German Patent and a British Pat # 4756/1878 (around serial number 25,000 I believe ).


Steven Tribe
24-May-2012, 14:57
Yes, the two series of "projectos" did have different sizes for the front and rear lenses. Series I had smaller rear pair and series II HAD A SMALLER achromat!!
See the attached!
Front and rear have no meaning because the barrel can be turned around! But you need to remove the 4 screws.

Oh, it does have Wien on the "engraving" - so my comments about post 1888 are not valid.

24-May-2012, 15:05
It was 1878 in which Voigtlander cemented the rear pair

I guess that the front cell was still a cemented achromatic doublet.
In my lens there is a dallmeyer-type pair at the front, and the achromat at the back.
It's quite strange, but i find unlikely that somebody could make such a big mistake. It's quite easy to reverse the order of the glasses, but fitting the elements in the wrong mount is totally a different thing...
When i found this post, i was going to browse your web page about Petzval lenses, looking for some clue :)

Ahh, Steven, of course reversing all the focusing mount could be a solution. I still find quite unlikely that somebody did an error like that, cause the complete removal of the focusing assembly is not needed for cleaning, or for any other plausible reason.
Nevertheless, if i don't find any more useful information pointing to another direction, that's what i will do.
No need to take out the glasses and risk some damage. I will leave the elements in the same position, as the catalog page you kindly provided seems to show that the Projectos had a Dallmeyer layout.
Your help, as always, has been truly unvaluable.
It's a pity that my lens seems to be somewhat a mix-up between Projectos Serie I and II: it has a single knob like Serie II, and external shade thread and no provision for waterhouse stops, like Serie I.
About the achromat diameter, i can't be sure that the diameter of 85mm i quickly measured with a ruler was totally accurate.



24-May-2012, 16:32
I've found 5 or 6 old petzvals where the inner tube was reversed and the focus knob replaced with it that way.

24-May-2012, 21:58
I've found 5 or 6 old petzvals where the inner tube was reversed and the focus knob replaced with it that way.

The more i think about it the more i am confused!
If i reverse the barrel the thread for the lens shade would go inside the bellows!
The cells have different diameter, whatever i do, the side with the thread for the shade is where the cell with the air-spaced glasses will go. It is simply not possible to screw the achromat cell to the same side of the shade.
Again, the only answer that comes to my mind is that somebody fitted the elements to the wrong cell. Unfortunately, i am the first to find it quite unlikely, as the cell mounts are different, one is longer and with smaller diameter. I don't think that the two elements would go to the mount where the achromat is presently fitted. When i disassembled the two cells, i found no evidence of any problem: no play, rings of the exact size and depth, etc.
If a distancer ring is of the right depth to secure the achromat with no play, how could i use the same distancer for the two elements, which are deeper?

The more i think about a solution, the more i am left in the dark. That's the only certainty i have :(

have fun


26-May-2012, 18:18
Voigtländer changed to other system for rear pairs about 1880.
Voigtlaender is a common replacement for Voigtländer in written German and the s in Braunschweig is the alternative "f"!
Just Braunschweig means after 1888.

You already corrected yourself.
"Wien und Braunschweig" means between 1852 and 1862, if i correctly recall the dates.

Finding answers to my questions about this lens is proving to be a very difficult task.
I think i will reopen the lens soon and re-check everything.
Now i'm not even sure that the glass at the back is a cemented doublet. When i inspected the components, i took it for granted, the shape and thickness were right, but now i remember that i couldn't see the seam between the two elements. I thought i was seeing three reflections, but now i am not so sure...

I checked the Vademecum for a Voigtlander lens which has an air spaced doublet at the front (Dallmeyer style, with both curves pointing outwards, and with a brass ring that separates the two glasses), and with a meniscus at the back (also curved outwards). There is not such a lens.
I just contacted an italian gentleman who wrote a very nice book about 1800 french lenses, and who's writing another book about some brands of german lenses of the same period.
I hope to get some informations that would guide me to the right direction.
I'll take some better pictures to help him find the "diagnosis".
If there is somebody interested, i will upload the pics to a Flickr set, and post the link here.

It's a pity that the title of this thread is so misleading. There is no reference to the word "Voigtlander", hence those interested in early Voigtlander lenses have a very slim chance to find my post.
If a moderator is reading: is it possible to rename the thread?
I don't think it's so big a mistery, or that the lens is one-of-a-kind, but it's different from all the picture (live or from catalogs) i have found online, that's for sure.
So it could be of some interest for Voigtlander enthusiasts out there.

Steven, i sent you a PM and found that your mailbox is full. I guess you have to delete a few old messages to make some room for the new ones.