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Thread: Info please on Scientific Lens Co Portrait lens

  1. #1
    lenser's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Tim from Missouri

    Info please on Scientific Lens Co Portrait lens

    Was just in a fiend's studio and spotted a big old piece of brass on a shelf. It's made by Scientific Lens Co. in New York, is labeled a portrait lens (about the same size as my Dallmeyer 3A), is a f4-250 with a Waterhouse slot, and the serial number is 11898. Good glass with only slight hazing so we might put it back into service.

    A quick search here found very little information and a Google search produced nothing, so I'm asking for any information the our members might have about the history of the lens, the company and possible current market value.

    Thanks in advance.
    "One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude." Carl Sandburg

  2. #2
    Randy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Virginia, USA

    Re: Info please on Scientific Lens Co Portrait lens

    I acquired a Scientific Lens a couple years ago. It's about 12" FL, give or take, with a water-house slot. All it says on it, beside the manufacture, is "R. Rectl. No.5". Glass is great but the barrel is discolored. I shot some 8X10's with it and they were lousy (I thought). I have made stops for it and am going to do some experimenting with 5X7.
    Likewise, I could find very little, if any on the web.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Western, PA.

    Re: Info please on Scientific Lens Co Portrait lens

    Hey Tim and Randy

    Here's a couple of adds from Photo Critic 1904 (Portrait outfit/ Anastigmats) . I think I've seen an add for the Scientific lens Co Portrait lens. If I find it I'll post it.

    Pretty sure they got into the game very late like the late 1800's maybe even the very beginning of the 1900's . As far as I can tell they probably did not survive the great depression. Not sure about that though.

    Not much in the Vade Mecum

    Here is the text

    Scientific Lens Co., 24, E 21 St, New York, USA.
    For an account, see B.J.A. 1905, as the lenses change focus during exposure to give increased depth of field.
    This was patented as Patent 02/02/1904; 12/04/1904; 31/05/1904; 18/10/1904. (?USPats.) This has been a
    recurring theme and see Dieterich for a later application.
    Ocular f5.0 This lens can be used with and without focus change.
    Stigmar f6.2 A high grade anastigmat of 4+4 symmetric layout. This was made in 7.25, 12, 17in.
    Retinar f7.7 This was an RR for use with and without focus change.
    Cosmos Wide angle This was noted as an 6in lens, with rotating aperture plate ('wheel stops') but there is
    no further data. (A conjecture is WAR.)

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Re: Info please on Scientific Lens Co Portrait lens

    They weren't around long, perhaps 1900 to 1905. Ulrich Nehring bought the Scientific Lens Company and he is known for making some lenses and has a few photographic patents.

  5. #5

    Re: Info please on Scientific Lens Co Portrait lens

    First incorporated in Jan 1904....

    Nehring was selling lenses starting in the late 1890's under his own name. He published a lens catalog in 1900. He continued to sell under various names until around 1910.

    Nehring was involved with the SL Company (supplying them lenses), and patented a lens and assigned it to the SL Co in 1904 (Patent 761390 ). In 1908, there were investigations going on of both the company and Nehring...

    From Camera Craft Vol 17, 1910

    More "Honest Lenses for an Honest Price"

    Months and months ago we learned, through a four-page "list" that costs fifty cents a year, that Nehring had induced the Scientific Lens Company to continue the manufacture of lenses from his formulae and patents. This "Lens Company" must be quite powerless in the face of Mr. Nehring's wonderful persuasive powers. As further evidence along this line, a circular letter, under date of November nineteenth, advises that the photographic department of the Scientific Lens Company, its "plant and formulae." have been sold to Alfred Koehler. Mr. Koehler, we are told, was "selected" by Mr. Nehring as the most desirable successor; and that, "in selecting him as my successor, I feel that I have kept faith with the fraternity." We are not advised as to the name or nature of this "fraternity," possibly because it is obviously unnecessary. Mr. Nehring's wholesouled generosity and his confidence in the existence of a further supply of confiding souls is clearly shown by the reckless manner in which he asks "all my friends and users of my lenses to transfer their confidence to Mr. Alfred Koehler." Observe the lavish prodigality embodied in this request, which, if complied with, leaves Mr. Nehring without even the confidence of his friends, let alone that of the users of his lenses. Pending the printing of a "higher price list," these honest lenses can be obtained at the old honest prices; Mr. Koehler going to the trouble of testing and guaranteeing them, "honest lenses," it would seem, not being above suspicion. We assume that the new prices will, although higher than the present "honest" ones, comply with the standard of honesty enjoyed by the lenses. If any of our readers have any confidence in the Scientific Lens Company, Lens Nehring, or U. Nehring, they will kindly transfer it to Mr. Koehler. Mr. Nehring no longer needs it, and Mr. Koehler is. no doubt, entitled to it under the conditions of the sale.


    Antique & Classic Camera Blog

  6. #6

    Re: Info please on Scientific Lens Co Portrait lens

    And here is your lens....from a 1906 ad in the Photo Beacon # 18 and sold by Nehring's company, called LENS NEHRING


    Antique & Classic Camera Blog

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Tonopah, Nevada, USA

    Re: Info please on Scientific Lens Co Portrait lens

    I had one some years back and it wasn't a petzval at all. Not sure what and memory fails but I do remember it had a cemented pair that had failed and when heated to try to seperate the glass very quickly turned to sand. I think I sold it to Paul Fitzgerald for parts as he was trying to resurrect similar. So much for best glass obtainable et al.

    Just one of the hundreds I lost $$$ on.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011

    Re: Info please on Scientific Lens Co Portrait lens

    I just received the wide angle, I haven't gotten around to testing it yet. Seems to be a straightforward 2+2 symmetrical layout, not as curved as Protar. Mine has a crack on the outer edge of one interior element, but I don't expect this will affect use at all. It's marked "8x10" only, and I haven't mounted it yet so I don't know about focal length or coverage.

  9. #9
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Stuck inside of Tucson with the Eastern Seaboard Blues again...

    Re: Info please on Scientific Lens Co Portrait lens

    Jody: FWIW, I have a Nehring Extra Wide Angle lens for 8x10. About 135mm focal length, and almost certainly a Wide Angle Rectilinear. Very sharp, nicely made, I used to go to it fairly often in my landscape days. I suspect you'll be happy with yours.

    I'm not sure what the fuss was about in the old days, but I noticed in Dan's last post (from Marsena Parker) that Nehring apparently didn't advertise, so there may have been some resentment from Camera Craft, which of course relied on advertising for part of its revenue.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  10. #10

    Re: Info please on Scientific Lens Co Portrait lens

    The rest of the 1906 Lens Nehring Ad

    Nehring appeared to be a hustler if not a crook from some of the insinuations I've read.. and notice how cheap his lenses were.....

    I believe all of these lens types were also sold and labeled by the Scientific Lens Co.


    Antique & Classic Camera Blog

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