Kershaw Projection Lenses

Like its close rival Ross, the Kershaw brand dates to the latter half of the 19th Century, and was therefore among the first generation of makers to design lenses for projection. The story of A. Kershaw & Sons is briefly recapped in this article, explaining its intertwining with the Gaumont and Kalee brands en-route to temporary digestion by the Rank combine, followed by its expulsion and demise. All ‘Gaumont-Kalee’ branded projection lenses were made by Kershaw in Leeds during the Rank period (1947-1958).

In the minds of many photographers and enthusiasts the history of camera optics is dominated by German and Japanese makers – at least the mid-century ‘glory days’ within reach of living memory that seem more appealing that the post-1980s reality of American and Chinese dominance. But before either period, and viewed by many as the real golden age, fin-de-siecle Britain and France, in the waning years of Empire, had industries and engines of optical innovation at least equal to Germany.

Sadly, one A. Kershaw’s core specialisms – the production of cine and cine projection lenses – placed it in direct competition with Schneider, Bausch & Lomb and Taylor Hobson, which inevitably doomed its efforts to that of ‘also-ran’. Few of their lenses command high valuations: they are currently cheap and plentiful on the used market. Some of their product ranges track the offerings of Ross so closely, you might wonder whether they were the result of pooled production. We leave this question for another article: here we identify and differentiate the lenses themselves and provide a chronological outline tied to serial numbers.

Series A

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Series B

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Series C

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Series H

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Series K

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Series S

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Series T

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Shooting with Kershaw Projection Lenses

TBA

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