Tracing Previous Owners of Vintage Lenses
I have always been intrigued by the life history of some of the items in my camera collection. However it is unusual to be able to establish previous ownership. Occasionally cheap folding cameras may have the owners name and address written inside the case.
Recently I bought a brass rapid rectilinear lens of 5x7 coverage. It was Inscribed 'Chevalett, Opticien, Paris Rapid Rectilinear 5x7' and ' PACKER Hanley '.
I was unable to find out much about the Chevalett Optician in Paris. However a speculative Google search turned up some listings from the Staffordshire Photographers Index drawn from Trade Directories (1861-1940). It would seem that this lens was previously owned by Frederick G Packer of 34 Pall Mall Hanley, Stafforshire, United Kingdom. His studio was listed as active in 1896.
I was for some reason ridiculously pleased about this, so much so that I feel impelled to pass on the news.
It joins only two other items in my collection with a known provenance. I have a 270mm f6 Cooke Aviar Series IIIB previously owned by a gentleman named Geoff Senior who specialised in automobile photography. Also a 1939 Leica III with the name ' Otto Muller ' scratched onto the baseplate. I would love to know where that camera has been.
Anyone else have items of interesting provenance that they would like to share?Attachment 83267
I bought an Argus C-3 "Brick" and found it had the previous owner's name written inside the leather case. I checked on the internet and learned he had died a couple of years earlier and had lived in the Pacific Northwest. I presume he use the Brick for casual family photographs. I have a few dozen other film cameras from days of yore. I wish they would speak to me, too.
If camera and lenses could speak ...
What I like as well is when I find some film in old camera that I bought, that is like time traveling.
Question: do you plan to put your name on camera and lenses that you use, so one day somebody else can check the internet for you ?
no, I do not plan to ever give them up.
This would be interesting to know about so many of our cameras. If only they were registered with a central body such as DVLA do with cars .... then again maybe not as the government would then be quick to find a way to tax camera usage (apart from VAT!)
I once bought a Pentax ES2 in a second hand shop (before the days of eBay) and found a name and address inside the case. I tracked down that person, who was the previous owner, had owned the camera for many years and had been around the world with it as he'd served in the Merchant Navy. I'd love to have list of all the places the camera has been, but the chap wasn't very forthcoming with information. Perhaps I'd phoned him in the middle of Coronation Street!
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This thread reminded me about a quote from Ken Rockwells M3 review:
"Most LEICA M3s sold today come from owners who have left this world; like any other masterpiece, the timeless LEICA M3 outlives its mortal owners."
One of my cameras has a social security number etched into the back. Funny that there was a time that using SS#'s to keep something identified for yourself was actually not that uncommon.
They don't track that stuff for no reason. Taxes and surveillance would be motives for cameras. If you use a registered digital camera to record something illegal or subversive, they'll track down the serial number in the exif data and you'll be an inteilligence target. Bad guys will have film cameras. Jaguar is saying it's good to be bad?
Originally Posted by Steve Roberts
In this country we're resisting the registration of guns. The state of Connecticut is requiring registration of semiautomatic rifles, and practically nobody is registering. On cars, we get taxed on sales, annual registration, and at the fuel pump (we have it easy at the pump compared to europe), maybe with cameras we'd have big taxes on memory cards and film and inkjet ink and all photo supplies? It's more of a luxury than cars.
I have two lenses that I wished I knew more of their provenance: a 14 1/2" Verito, which I bought from an individual dealer. He said that the lens was used to photograph the Beatles, when they first came to America in 1964. Alas, I never asked who the photographer was. I'm curious about the name on a second lens - an Aldis Anastigmat that I bought from a dealer in India. Stamped/engraved on the side is the name "Babajee Sakharam & Co Bombay". Was this an individual photographer, who had ordered this British lens from England, or, I suppose more likely, an Indian dealer in British lenses? A simple Google search doesn't turn up anything.
Knowing some small tidbit of a lens's history make them special.
I have a few cameras and film holders with previous owners' names or notes associated, but the only ones where I know anything more than a name are the ones handed down within the family.
My Speed Graphic has a whole mess of reference information written on it; you can tell what lenses the previous owner had, that s/he favored Tri-X and used several different types of flash bulbs, and there's a whole table of numerology that I've never managed to decode at all. Whatever it was, they wrote it out meticulously and taped the notes carefully in place on the bed for quick reference, so it must have been fairly important. (I've been working on reconstructing the original kit; I think the only think I'm missing is the 100mm, which I theorize was a WF-Ektar in shutter.)
For some reason I never thought of adding my name to the "roll call" on any of this stuff, but maybe I should for the benefit of future spelunkers. At least my great-grandfather's Voigtlaender Bergheil should have a note in the case about its provenance.
San Diego, CA, USA
The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
-The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_