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Thread: Running Book Review: D’Agostini/Rose - 19th Century Great Britain & Ireland Lenses.

  1. #1

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    Running Book Review: D’Agostini/Rose - 19th Century Great Britain & Ireland Lenses.

    This is the 3rd book which Corrado D’Agostini has been associated with. The first two covered France and Germany, respectively.

    The book can be obtained from Corrado. There may be alternative solutions for those outside of the EU to escape import VAT.

    There is a new publisher/printer, but the general appearance/size is the same as the previous books.

    Following the trend in the second book - German lenses - there is a further reduction in the companies given Chapter status.

    There is a major editing issue as the listing of contents Corresponds to pages, but the chapter numbering is either absent or incorrect. The text Line editing programme has produced some ugly spaces in an otherwise attractive layout.

    Only Ross, Dallmeyer, Grubb (Ireland), T,T &H and Horne, Thornthwaite & Wood are given this chapter status.

    A quick perusal of the more than 350 pages confirm that the information/illustrations of the Ross and Dallmeyer “stories” are the most wide ranging and complete available. There is much information here, along with illustrative material that I have not seen before. Grubb is interesting too, but the temptation to include a lot of Grubbs’ work with major telescopes should have been resisted.

    As in previous books, the scientific contributions to early photographic experiments and invention make up the first four sections. Herschel, Fox Talbot and many others are included, along with practitioners like Henry Colleen and Claudet. At last, someone has researched and included the glass available for these early lens makers. Are these sections the work of Mr. Rose?

    I think this volume is best described as an excellent account of the contributions made by Ross, Dallmeyer and TTH towards photographic lenses - along with the work of real practitioners in the 19th century. This appears extremely well done - also as regards author’s ability to communicate in an engaging manner.

    I am less impressed by the inclusion of Grubb and Horne, Thornthwaite and (Wood). This later firm was one of many UK/London photographic outlets either using other people’s designs or even other firm’s production. I personally find it very useful as I have (had) quite a few of their lenses. To be be honest, Grubb’s contribution to Photography was finished with his early Aplanatic/Double Aplanatic - and other lenses mirrored what other manufacturers were selling.

    Enough for now!
    I’ll add comments as I work through the detailed sections - and I hope others will join in a running review,

    There is a rapid “thumb through” here!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2q2QoSL-92E
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails image.jpg   image.jpg   image.jpg  
    Last edited by Steven Tribe; 21-Jan-2022 at 08:40. Reason: YouTube link

  2. #2

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    Re: Running Book Review: D’Agostini/Rose - 19th Century Great Britain & Ireland Lense

    After further Reading…..!

    The first section covers both pre- 1839 approaches and the explosive developments after that time. Both the UK and France are included in spite of the title. It is really a much more detailed account than the one which starts of the original “French Lenses” book. Very engaging, with lots of -new to me - facts. Uses Fox Talbot/Calotype/Scott Archer/Collodion to cover the early history of Photography.
    The result is a very convincing, entertaining and original account.

    The Ross and Dallmeyer sections are wonderful chronologically based accounts including:-

    - Personal histories.
    - Advertising and Catalogues.
    - Cross sections of lens designs.
    - All lens series.
    - Serial numbers and Chronologies.

    The Rofs/Ross sections stops at the turn of the Century, whilst Dallmeyer has a few pages on the 20th Century in order to include the super fast Cinematograph lenses. Both accounts have included many non-photographic sections (telescope, microscopes etc) which although completely uninteresting to me, personally, probably helped the finances of these two companies during a very tough time economic environment.


    The number of photographs of lens is quite unique and very clean examples have been discovered. These are far nicer than the more soiled lens we own!
    As far as I can see, there is no section on Patent protection which must have been very important for Dallmeyer. - especially as regards RR and the revised Petzval design. It would have been interesting to know when the numerous French copies became legal! Unfortunately, there is no index to check. The only page I take issue with is page 264, which gives a very incomplete snapshot of Dallmeyer’s relation with other makers.

    Next time, Grubb and Horne & Thornthwaite sections.

  3. #3

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    Re: Running Book Review: D’Agostini/Rose - 19th Century Great Britain & Ireland Lense

    I agree generally with Steven's review, apart from his dismissal of Grubb's contribution, of course. I may see everything through 'Irish eyes', but I would not have bought the book without Grubb's output being in it. One of my lenses, Grubb No 3631, is in the book, but this photo must have come from an auction catalogue as I did not supply it. Likewise, I did not supply, nor was I asked for permission to use, a photograph in the book which I took of the Great Telescope at Birr which was built by the Earl of Rosse, with the assistance of Thomas Grubb. My name appears several times in the Grubb section of the book, mainly in the context of my article on Grubb and Parsons on Macfilos and my article on the British Photographic History site on the practice of 'signing' lenses which Thomas Grubb carried out to authenticate his products.

    If I had been consulted about this I could have provided more up to date information based on my research and my collecting. While some entries on this forum have been mentioned, if the authors had kept their perusal of the forum up to date they might have noticed the following which I have posted here:

    Statement about no lenses between 3631 (which I own) and 5406. I have posted a picture of 5405 (which I own) on this forum

    Statement about no lenses in the 4,000 group. I have posted a picture of 4039 (which I own) on this forum. The lens is genuine and has the usual 'signature'

    I would not really have expected the authors to have know about 5350 (the highest Grubb serial number seen and which I own) as I only posted the details around the time that the book was published. This is the lens which has an aluminium barrel, a diaphragm and an orange coated optic.

    My research into Grubb continues. I have seen a series of 80 waxed calotypes taken by Mr Grubb in the early 1850s and their quality is superb. I have seen an exhibition print made by Mr Grubb in or just before 1857 which has his handwriting on the back making reference to the curvature of railings, presumably in the context of his lens design reducing distortions and aberrations. This was around the time that he submitted his patent application. I have also held Mr Grubb's geometry set in my hands and I have photographed it. I have a lot more besides which is not in the book.

    We can argue about Kingslakes's comparison between Grubb's Aplanat and Dallmeyer's Rapid Rectilinear some other day. I believe it was right to include the other optical achievements of the Grubbs, father and son, as they put a context on the photographic lenses. The achievements of the optical work of the Grubb family were immense and had impact all around the world. The Carte Du Ciel project to photograph the skies at night all around the world is certainly worthy of some decent write ups in layman's terms. Howard must have been proud in 1919 when Eddington and others used a coelostat machine which he had made to prove Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

    I am fine with the astronomical stuff and I would not have objected even if the authors had shown Mr Grubb's machine for printing bank notes and/or his iron billiard table!

    I agree about the bad spacing in the book and this appears to be particularly bad in the Grubb section.

    I think that the book overall is good. The Grubb section could have been much better, but I do welcome the translated von Rohr material which I had not seen before.

    I do intend to contact the authors/publishers about the above points.

    William

  4. #4

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    Re: Running Book Review: D’Agostini/Rose - 19th Century Great Britain & Ireland Lense

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Tribe View Post
    I am less impressed by the inclusion of Grubb
    Really? As the originator of the Rapid Rectilinear (I have an 1864 Doublet and the concept to twp Aplanatics used in this way is at least reffered to in Grubb's 1857 Patent) surely this (then 'British') developer and maker of photographic lenses deserves a place in any book about early photographic lenses, especially those made in what was then part of the UK? We tend to forget the realities of the time. Grubb was an outlier with (supposedly) lower costs than his London based adversaries. The London firms undoubtedly tried to obtain 'superiority' in various, sometimes less than palatable ways, and not including Grubb in such a book would be to accept the situation as 'fabricated' or 'advertised' rather than in reality.

    And the development of photographic lenses is intertwined with telescope development too. We tend to try to isolate facets of history which, IMO, makes them far less interesting. As an example, one problem, referred to in a book on Grubb telescopes, for early lens makers was getting good, bubble free glass, which made it difficult to make larger lenses. Whilst of great importance when making large teescope objectives it also would have impacted large (and expensive) photographic lenses too. There is much crossover of problem solving to be gained from associating the two and since many of the manufacturing probles were similar, telescope makers were ideally situated to make photographic lenses.

    Having discussed the Grubb content with William, I can say that a more complete history is needed. Something which William and myself are considering.

  5. #5

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    Re: Running Book Review: D’Agostini/Rose - 19th Century Great Britain & Ireland Lense

    Yes I fully expected two gentlemen to jump into the “Grubb” discussion - which is why I said very little! And they contribute more than I could about the validity of the section and how comprehensive it is.

    Both Grubb and Horne & Thornthwaite’s activities are, at present, best covered by researchers in their “other” mainstream activity, telescopes and microscopes, respectively. So, a historical overview and an account of their activities slanted towards photographic lenses is a great advance,

    I have had time to look through the Horne & Thornthwaite chapter. It just so happens that I have been the owner of 5 of these lenses. All of which have been in the 1/4 plate size for sliding box cameras. Mostly Petzvals, but also a double achromat (pre- Dallmeyer/Steinheil/Ross) which I can identify due to one period catalogue included in the section! To my surprise, I discovered that H &T admit to selling lenses that “others” have made because they identify certain lenses ( at a premium price!) that they point out are made by them.
    Last edited by Steven Tribe; 4-Feb-2022 at 16:13.

  6. #6

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    Re: Running Book Review: D’Agostini/Rose - 19th Century Great Britain & Ireland Lense

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Tribe View Post
    Both Grubb and Horne & Thornthwaite’s activities are, at present, best covered by researchers in their “other” mainstream activity, telescopes and microscopes, respectively. So, a historical overview and an account of their activities slanted towards photographic lenses is a great advance.
    In the case of Grubb, Ian Glass's excellent book on the Grubbs devote only one page to their photographic lenses! There is a lot of information on their telescopes but both had extensive involvement in photography. I suspect that the 'problem' was that telescopes were far more profitable which is why these were therir mainstay and what both are best known for. Howard also built most of the periscopes used by the British Navy in WW1 and originated the concept of what is now known as the 'red dot rifle sight' . I have also read that it was Howard who asked Dennis Taylor to look at the Telescope Doublet with a view to improving it (they were trying to minimise glass/air surfaces) which indirectly led to Taylor designing the Cooke Triplet - another telescope/photogrpahy lens connection if so.

  7. #7

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    Re: Running Book Review: D’Agostini/Rose - 19th Century Great Britain & Ireland Lense

    I suppose we should stay quiet on the British/Irish thing as things are boiling up again in Northern Ireland, post Brexit. Thomas and Howard Grubb were both Irish and both were born and died in Ireland and I have brought some of my brass lenses to both of their graves here in Dublin. The Patent issued to Thomas was, however, British and a strange thing which I have noted is that Thomas dropped the use of Dublin after he got his patent, which may have been related to some of the resistance he had received from Thomas Sutton and others in Britain around the time his patent was issued. The one exception I have is his Aplanat No 482 (approximately C size) which was engraved or stamped (not in the usual elaborate style) No 482 Grubb Dublin, but then the word Patent was added in a different style, which may have happened after the patent was granted. I also have No 582 which has a similar style of stamping or engraving, but that reads 'Grubb Patent No 582' with no mention of Dublin. Anyone who has read the exchanges between Grubb and Sutton and others in the Photographic Journal will know that Grubb Sr was not a shrinking violet when it came to 'discussions' about lens design. His son Howard brought Dublin back into the picture on the lenses which he made under his own name. He had been knighted by then and on the census returns for 1901 and 1911 he described his occupations as 'Knight' followed by 'Astronomical Instrument Maker'. This takes us back to the old British/Irish thing, of course.

    All good clean fun looking back after 160+ years, but some of these issues may have been serious back then. I'm delighted that the Grubbs are covered in detail in the book and that 'Ireland' is on the cover, but the detail and material could have been much better if someone had dropped me an email. Did I mention that I have seen photos taken by Thomas Grubb out of one of the back windows of his home in Leinster Square Rathmines, Dublin in the early 1850s about 5 years before he got his patent?

    Grubb's use of helicoid focus in the 1850s is mentioned in the book. My first Grubb lens was No 509 which has a helicoid, a feature not generally seen in camera lenses until much later.

    William

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