F. Faliez (Paris)

Relegated to an obscurity unilluminated by the usual sources, the French manufacturer F. Faliez was active from approximately 1912 until at least the late 1940s, with factories and offices based in the village of Aufreville-Brasseuil in Mantes, fifty kilometres west of Paris in the Seine-et-Oise district – it’s distinctive ‘Ft PARIS’ branding a somewhat elastic epithet.

In 1906, Aufreville had a population of 234. In 1921, after the first World War and Influenza, the number had dropped to just 193. One of these was the company’s founder, Francisque Eugenes George Faliez – son of 32 year-old optical engineer Alexis Joseph Faliez, born in Aufreville in September 1876.

The Faliez family home was in the bustling 14th arrondisement of Paris (49 Rue de la Gaité: now a massage parlour) but sometime between 1910-1913 Francisque relocated (with a family that consisted of at least one toddler) to the site of a former millhouse in the town of his birthplace. It is likely that Alexis already had a business based here and was responsible for its initial conversion to an optics factory. However, during Francisque’s tenure the ‘Etablissements F. Faliez’ site at Le Moulin de Cormier (61 Route de Houdan: now homes and offices) was upgraded with new machinery, including a electricity-generating turbine powered by the Vaucouleurs tributary of Le Moru river running through the rear of the property. Dozens of workers were employed here: many of whom lived on site along with the Faliez family. Other ‘Opticiens’ newly resident in Aufreville by 1914 included Leon Defer, Ligny-based Pierre Müller and his sons Henri and George, locally-born Jean Scherrer, and Lucien Sieffert (born in Wegersheim, Germany).

Francisque Faliez had been attached to the 29th Dragons (Cavalry Regiment) since 1897 and was involved in the initial mobilisation of August 1914 and thereafter in active duty in Germany until March 1918, when he was ‘factory-detached’ until February 1919 – perhaps returned to Aufreville to contribute expertise and resources to the war effort there. Rewarding his endeavour, ‘Francis’ received a membership to la Société Française de Photographie in 1921.

By 1920, newly resident opticiens included Jules Auguste Foucault (in a senior role) and Georges Laronde. In 1930, the factory foreman was listed as Pierre Delfuch whose son André was included as a voting ‘opticien’. Ferdinand de Fontaine was similarly listed.

In 1931, F. Faliez, along with Etablissement Benoist Berthiot, was recognised for the company’s outstanding contribution to the French photographic industry by an international jury at that year’s Paris Colonial Exposition – an event alleged to have been attended by as many as nine million visitors.

By 1939, Francisque Faliez’ son George (born 1907) had joined the family business, becoming a third-generation opticien, along with George Lambron and Désiré Molle. However, not long after, in March 1942, Francisque died.

The following year, at 2am on November 17th, 1943, FTP resistance fighter Henri Duverdin* visited the Faliez site with the intention of burning it down as an example to other Nazi ‘collaborators’. The owner and resident factory workers were ordered to evacuate. The buildings, equipment, and surrounding grounds were saturated with flammable liquid which (fortunately for the company) transpired to be less flammable than expected. The building survived. Six months later, on April 4, 1944, Duverdin was shot dead by orders of the court of the Feldkommandantur of Saint-Cloud as punishment for ‘maverick activity’.

The demise of Etablissements F. Faliez as a going concern is harder to pinpoint. References are found to the destruction of the water turbine at Le Moulin de Cormier at the end of WWII, but Siamor projection lenses are found with high serials in chromed barrels that indicate production continued into the early 1950s, at least – though perhaps not much later than 1960.

Capitalising on the post-war export market

By 1920 the company had secured American distribution with M. H. Schoenbaum of New York (220 West 42nd Street). In Spain (by 1931 at least), distribution of Faliez lenses was handled from its Barcelona base by F. Trian S. en C. Likely even earlier (perhaps from 1923) Louis Antoine Georges, the entrepreneurial Belgian founder of L. Le Personne & Co Ltd (99 Cannon Street, EC4) distributed Faliez lenses in the UK. Le Personne & Co (established in 1888) also supplied zinc ribbon, Colt machine guns and other armaments. Representation of F. Faliez seems to have been a short-lived dalliance for the company, which progressed to bulk sale of sheet metal in the 1940s, and ended its corporate life importing wine glasses in the 1980s. But we digress . . . .

During the 1920s, F. Faliez’ product range comprised Siamor four-element projection Petzval portrait lenses with a cemented achromatic doublet pair at the front and crown + flint at the rear, and Planior triplets – which were packaged as enlarger, projector and taking lenses – the latter additionally fitted with circular diaphragms. In 1922, American buyers were presented with the 2-3 inch f2.8 Planiors as a cheaper option ($12.50) than the four-element Tessars from Zeiss or Ross (typically $17-20 in equivalent focal lengths). F. Faliez also manufactured binoculars, opera glasses and astronomical equipment.

The Planior triplets were relatively unremarkable, and are observed not too uncommonly in France attached to a variety of period cameras. However, the Siamor range of projector lenses diversified over at least two decades, producing fast lenses whose potential as capture optics didn’t go unnoticed at the time. Although the high quality engraving has stood the test of time, some of the earliest lenses were branded in a script that invites misidentification as ‘Liamor’. However they are identified, they are now quite desirable and fetch good prices – especially Series 2 models.

Taking Lenses

TBA: Triplet

Siamor 50mm f2.517903All brass barrel
Heliconor 200mm f6.8 All brass. (153g)
Telinor f4.51922

16mm Projection Lenses

“Siamor” projection lenses for 16mm are distinguished by their smaller barrels (helically grooved in the case of the 40mm), shorter focal lengths, rear threads and absence of serial numbers. They are also simple Petzval designs and apologetically frame their SIAMOR branding in quote marks on the lens fascia. Also notable is the omission of the letter ‘F.’ from FALIEZ. Apertures are unmarked – likely to be f2.5.


35mm Projection Lenses

Siamor Series 1: on the market by 1922. All f2.5. 42.6mm and 50mm barrels. Petzval portrait (4/2): cemented achromatic doublet at front / air-spaced crown + flint at rear. Co-production with Hermagis TBA.

Siamor Serie No. 1 Serial
115mm14641CAPS branding. Brass with black nose
135mm20125Script branding. Brass with black nose
CAPS branding. All brass
CAPS branding. Brass with black nose
170mm13822CAPS branding. Brass with black nose.
200mm25881CAPS branding. Brass with black nose (11cm / 186g?)

Siamor Series 2: contemporary with Series 1: typically f2.0. 60mm barrels. Probably also Petzval portait. Co-production with Hermagis TBA.

Siamor Serie No. 2
70mm21301Brass body with central black ring. Cannot ID as S2; maybe S1
110mm [V1]12832Brass body with markings on fascia, inside hood
110mm [V2]22229Brass Body with central black ring
115mm32861Brass body with central black ring
130mmxxxxxAll brass body with printed fascia
140mm10371Special L’Aubert edition. CAPS branding

Planior Series 3: Triplet. Advertised 1925 as projection lenses. All f2.5.

Planior Serie 3Serial
105mm f2.516519CAPS branding. Brass with black nose

Siamor Series 5: 70mm barrels with 2.5 inch aperture (f2.5 to f3.1). Anastigmat. Rare. Present in 1925.

Siamor Serie V

Serial Numbers


  • SOURCES: Arch. PPo., 77W 2215. – DAVCC, Caen, Box 5/B VIII 5, List S 1744-222/44 (Notes Thomas Pouty). – Memory of Men website

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