Mystery ULF lens

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I acquired a 14" f5.6 lens on e-bay which has no name on it. It is in a black mount, appears to be of Tessar type, has a 3" filter thread (not metric) and stops down to a marked f32. It has the serial number 272545. The iris diaphragm is installed closer to the rear optical group than the front. It is in a 3" flange which requires a 3 1/8" clearance hole. It is slightly cloudy (it's going for cleaning) so it's hard to tell if it's coated, it could well not be.

Can anyone recognise the lens from this description? I would be curious to find out what it is.

Regards,

David
 

wfwhitaker

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Kind of hard to tell without a picture, but it sounds very similar to a couple of old process lenses I have, one of which is marked Burke & James
 
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David H. Bebbington
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Yes, a picture would be a good idea!
 
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Dan Fromm

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David H. Bebbington said:
Yes, a picture would be a good idea!

At even odds, your lens is a WW-II vintage british aerial camera lens, not a process lens. Likely to be hard to put in shutter, too.

Good luck, have fun,

Dan
 
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David H. Bebbington
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Thanks for the 2 suggestions. Someone recently was selling a similar lens on e-bay which they described as an Aviar, which as I recall was a Cooke design, but actually made by Taylor, Taylor and Hobson. It is highly plausible that my lens is a WWII aerial-camera lens.

I had the lens cleaned to remove some internal fog and it is now spotless. As regards fitting it up, this should not be too hard. A guy in Switzerland who advertises Sinar-pattern lens panels in standard sizes on e-bay also cuts custom-sized holes (regular panels $30, custom sizes $60), fortunately the lens came with a flange, so it is now on its panel. I shall be using it with my pneumatic Day shutter which I mentioned recently on another thread on barrel lenses, this fits onto the front of the lens via an iris-type clamp, so I'm up and running!

Regards,

David

PS: The guy who makes Sinar-pattern panels is:

Peter Nowak
Bietenberg 1
CH-6418 Rothenthurm
Switzerland

E-mail: nowak@intercortex.com

I am sure he speaks English, although I wrote in German. Did good work and took just 7 days to make the panel.
 
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Dan Fromm

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David H. Bebbington said:
Thanks for the 2 suggestions. Someone recently was selling a similar lens on e-bay which they described as an Aviar, which as I recall was a Cooke design, but actually made by Taylor, Taylor and Hobson.
The Aviar is not a Cooke design. It was designed by A. Warmisham of Taylor, Taylor, & Hobson. TT&H's photographic lens-making division is now called Cooke Optics.

TTH's use of the name Cooke has created much confusion. In the beginning, H. D. Taylor, an employee of T. Cooke & Sons, a microscope manufacturer later called Cooke, Troughton, & Sims, designed the Cooke triplet. Cooke's licensed Taylor's design to Taylor, Taylor, & Hobson (no connection to H. D.), who subsequently produced many versions of it, many badged Cooke and Taylor, Taylor, & Hobson. Eventually TT&H applied the word Cooke to lenses that weren't triplets, e.g., Mr. Warmisham's Aviar.

The Aviar is a 4/4 dialyte type. Not a triplet or a tessar like your monstrosity. There was a 14"/5.6 Aviar made for use in aerial cameras, also a gross monstrosity. I foolishly got one to hang way out in front of a 2x3 Speed Graphic. Not a good idea, alas.

To add to the fun, according to the Lens Collector's Vade Mecum, during WWII there was a 14"/5.6 tessar type lens for aerial cameras. I saw one a couple of months ago at a camera show. Not a lens for dropping on feet, and neither is my 14" Aviar.

To add more to the confusion, when Mr. Warmisham retired his position was filled by the legendary G. H. Cook. He was awarded a technical Oscar in, I think, 1989, for Cooke zoom lenses. These for cine and TV cameras, not for LF.

Cheers,

Dan
 
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David H. Bebbington
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Thanks for the info, Dan. As far as I can tell, my lens is a Tessar type, the reason I had to send it away for cleaning was because it was cloudy in the front (air-spaced) lens group and I could not take the two elements apart and clean them myself. My lens is not coated, which of course usually indicates manufacture before the end of World War II. It has no name on it, I was expecting to see a Government arrow stamp and an inventory number on it, which was British practice, this particular lens was sent across from Canada.

I can imagine you struggled to fit your lens to a 2x3 Graphic, my lens needs a 3 1/8" mounting hole to accept its flange, because of its weight I shall not attempt to use it with wooden cameras but only with my Sinar Norma.

Regards,

David
 

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Interesting. The 14"/5.6 tessar thingy I saw had the Air Ministry stamp and the MoD broad arrow. IIRC, its s/n prefix was VV, I think that stands for Ross.

I've seen other WW-II vintage english lenses with the AM stamp and no broad arrow. Do you know when the broad arrow was introduced?

And some of my ex-MoD lenses have neither the broad arrow nor a contract number. Not that this affects how well they work.

I never hung my 14"/5.6 Aviar on my 2x3 Speed. Did cobble up adapters to hold it far in front of a Nikon and shot it that way. Sharp, flary. Your tessar should be less flary.

Cheers,

Dan
 

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According to Brewer's Dictionary, the Broad Arrow mark on government stores was introduced around 1700 by Henry, Earl of Romney while he was Master General of the Ordnance. Various broad arrow devices had been stamped or carved on things before then, but the mark found on British military gear is the one introduced by m'lud Romney.

Dan, do you have a complete set of manufacturer codes for the various MOD lenses? I have a beast of a 36" f6.8 tucked away in store that is a 'UU'. There's a "JHD" stamp on the side, so I assumed it was a Dallmeyer, but my idle curiosity would like to know.
 

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Sorry, Struan, I don't. I got the "TT = Taylor Hobson" from the Vade Mecum. It doesn't disagree with itself over what TT means, does disagree with itself about what UU and VV mean. I think, great stress think, that VV means Ross and that UU means Dallmeyer, but can't prove or disprove my belief.

Cheers,

Dan
 

Struan Gray

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Ah well. Informed conjecture is better than nothing.

FWIW, my wife - a historian - informs me that the Broad Arrow used to denote Crown property goes back at least as far as Richard II (1357-1400). Not much help in dating a lens :smile:
 

Dan Fromm

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Struan, do you have any idea why so many ex-Air Ministry lenses lack the broad arrow?

Also, a while ago I bought a Shackman Automatic Dial Recording Camera. Shackman's current owners tell me that it was made for the Admiralty. But, again, it has no contract number, no inventory number, and no broad arrow. It was used, I was told, to record the results of gunnery practice, and I can't imagine a civilian application for it. Any ideas about its lack of government labels?

Thanks,

Dan
 

Struan Gray

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I'm sorry Dan, but my experience having grown up with the Navy and served in the Marines is that the broad arrow comes and goes rather unpredictably. As a rule, if something is manufactured specifically for the military - such as a camo jacket - there will be a broad arrow somewhere on it. Sometimes though, it will be on the packaging or shipping crate and not on the item itself: I've seen WWII bomb sights and tank borescopes like this. It is most often missing altogether from items with a parallel civilian purpose - like cameras and lenses. The staff photographers in the R.M. units I worked with had standard Nikon kit with no extra markings.

My dad was and engineer in the Fleet Air Arm, and worked with the airborne early warning and reconnaisance aircraft, but never handled the cameras. He's good on how to tell if your Gannet is about to fall out of the sky, but not much use on lens markings :smile:

I have three Aerial lenses. The 5" W.A. Xpress has an arrow and a contract number. The 7" Aero-Ektar, from the same source and certainly MOD surplus, only has the usual Kodak markings. The 36" telephoto has no broad arrow, but it came to me via the Swedish Air Force so that's not surprising.
 

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Unpredictable is mild. I have a pair of ex-RAF ex-Agiflite 12"/4 TTH teles. They're the same lens as fitted to the Vinten F95, just screw into an Agiflite mount adapter. The Agiflite adapters have contract #s and broad arrows, the lenses don't. As we say, "go figure."

A while ago bought a 6"/1.9 Super Six that the seller said was ex-MoD. Not a government mark on it.

Cheers,

Dan
 
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Lens Cleaning and TTH 12" F1:4's

Sirs,

I realise that this thread is somewhat dated but I am a newcomer to the forum and would like some advice about finding anyone who can be trusted to properly clean older lens elements and, perhaps, get them coated.

I have a Wray 36" F1:4 "Night Camera" Air Reconnaissance Lens. It has been modified by removing the shutter and is now housed in a fully circular cell. The lenses have suffered from a little surface corrosion over the years and I should like to have the elements cleaned and, possibly, coated. Can anyone suggest an outfit that could carry out the work on the elements alone. I should add that I am able to strip and rebuild the lens but am reticent to do any serious work on the glass.

The second point is about the TTH 12" F1:4 lenses mentioned in the thread. I also have two of these and worked on them when I was an apprentice and later whilst at Kershaws in Leeds (Rank Precision Industries) during the sixties and early seventies. These lenses are splendid examples of the lensmakers art and are every bit as good as the majority of modern glass with the exception, in some cases, of very expensive glass. Whether it is medium format, 35mm or, dare I mention it, digital, the images from these lenses are superb.

Yours hopefully and with regards,

John Barton Wood,

Retired,

Leeds, West Yorkshire, U.K.
 

Dan Fromm

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John, in the US (I know you're in the UK), the polisher/coater of choice seems to be John Van Stelten at www.focalpointlens.com . We also have www.davrooptical.com; several years ago one of my friends got an estimate from them for polishing a Zoomar mirror lens but, IIRC, never had the work done. Neither of these shops is inexpensive.

Some years ago when I was looking for a shop to overhaul a damaged 4"/2.0 TTH lens I came across www.truelens.co.uk who, IIRC, offered lens polishing and coating. I just revisited their site and it doesn't mention these services; more evidence, I fear, that my memory is failing. But ask them, the worst they can do is admit that they can't help you. Cooke Optics, whose URL I don't have, is another possibility.

Good luck,

Dan
 
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