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Thread: Joseph Levi & Co. The European Lens

  1. #1
    Jon Wilson's Avatar
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    Joseph Levi & Co. The European Lens

    I am trying to find out additional information concerning a 9 inch petzval which was called "The European Lens" and marketed by Joseph Levi & Co. which was in London. I believe this lens was made in the 1880's. Any idea who rebranded it for Joseph Levi & Co.? I will try to post some pics of the lens this week. Any assistance is appreciated. Thanks. Jon

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    Re: Joseph Levi & Co. The European Lens

    A very short reference from VM:

    "Levi and Co, Farringdon Rd., London EC.
    This was a complex group of companies making cameras and acting as wholesale opticians- but not so far noted as a source of camera lenses as such."

    So you have discovered something new!

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    Jon Wilson's Avatar
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    Re: Joseph Levi & Co. The European Lens

    Thanks Steve. the glass probably has never been removed from the rims. They will not move with slight pressure. Therefore, I have left them in place. Although it appears there is some writing on the edge of one of the lenses. Does it look like a rebranded Darlot or something else?

    Here are some pics of this lens.

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    Re: Joseph Levi & Co. The European Lens

    Quite a few French makers wrote in pencil or india ink on the ground glass. Not just maker identification, but also quality control/achromat identification/grinder-polisher's name. France was the usual source of UK retailers' own brand of lenses.
    In addition, there were wholesale French companies who acted as middlemen between the smaller French makers and the export trade.

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    LF Newbie Islandor's Avatar
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    Re: Joseph Levi & Co. The European Lens

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    Hi Jon, & Steven. I just stumbled upon this old thread while trying to research the same lens (or similar anyway) that came with a tailboard camera I purchased recently, an 8 x 6 Underwood President if your'e interested. I don’t believe that this lens will actually work on it though as the mounting ring is too large for the lensboard that came with the camera, and would interfere with the brass frame that holds the board in as well. The lens body is just over 2" in diameter (maybe 2.5) and roughly 5' overall length, calipers are in the mail :-)

    Mine was fairly easy to open so I did take out and clean the lens elements, and they are still quite nice, and there was no writing on them on the inside. The body is a little rough and I didn’t want to start polishing it but did do some basic cleanup of it, and you can see a few pics attached also. So I was wondering if you ever used yours, or found any more good info about it? I did find a bit more about the Joseph Levi & Co at: http://www.earlyphotography.co.uk/site/companies2.html Seems they made/sold quite a few things under a few different brands over the years, and finally merged into Houghton just after the turn of the century. Seems these are similar in appearance from pics I've seen to the Hermagis or Darlot lenses so maybe the French connection guess is correct, but I'm just guessing.

    So there are at least 2 of these in the world, unless yours was the one I just bought!

    Cheers, Bob
    Last edited by Islandor; 4-Jun-2016 at 02:58. Reason: added a bit

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    Re: Joseph Levi & Co. The European Lens

    French lenses, traded by UK retailers, do not usually have lens edge identification. Sometimes there are stamped initials on the flange (if original!) or on brass lens caps. This was the case with a lot of Marion of Soho lenses who got some of their lenses from Darlot. Darlot was a valuable "selling" name, so it is likely from another less established maker. Everyone made good Petzvals.

    About clean-up. Everyone has their own criteria abot when a more radical intervention is needed. This one, in my own personal view, is on the borderline! It won't deteriorate further, but the novel engraving is hard to see at the moment!

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    Re: Joseph Levi & Co. The European Lens

    Thanks Steven, no initials that I can find, and I don't have the brass lens cap so no chance there, nor the waterhouse stops unfortunately. I did find after cleaning and a closer look there are some numbers just above the engraving (can't be seen in the photo) that are 14 . 8" and guessing that those are the lens size info for it, but Greek to me still. For the clean-up I think I'll leave it for now as is, have enough other things to keep me busy for a while!

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    Re: Joseph Levi & Co. The European Lens

    Some more information and photos.

    Breker had another Joseph Levi "The European" CdeV Petzval in an auction in 2016. No bids at 240 starting
    I bid for the same lens (Without realising it) on ebay.de recently.
    Has the same Gasc et Charconnet type trademark engraving as the one shown earlier in the thread, but has copperplate engraving rather than block capitals.
    Obviously French, but all traces of the originating workshop have been removed.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails image.jpg  

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