The Dallmeyer Story

Another seminal maker lost to the purview of recent generations, J.H. Dallmeyer was destined for entanglement in the fate of its internecine rival, A. Ross.

John Henry Dallmeyer was the son-in-law of Andrew Ross, and was employed initially in the company’s workshop, then as a scientific advisor. Following the death of Andrew Ross in 1858, Dallmeyer inherited the telescope production resources of A. Ross and set up as a lens producer in his own right. Dallmeyer lenses were in production from 1860 to the late 1970s – the business initially passing from John to his son Thomas in 1883.

Dallmeyer and Ross were eventually reunited: ultimately absorbed into the legacies held in 2024 by G&H Artemis. Dallmeyer was acquired by Watshams Electro-Optics in 1987, which in 1988 begat OMITEC Electro-Optics (son of Watshams), which in 1992 begat Omitec Thin Films (son of Omitec), which was begat by Avimo Europe in 1997 (subsequently known as Avimo Thin Film Technologies and, since 1975, owners of Ross), which in 2001 was begat by Thales Optical Coatings, which in 2006 begat Qioptiq Coatings, which in 2008 begat Artemis Optical (son of Qioptiq by management buyout), which in 2023 was begat by G&H.

Dallmeyer’s early history is well documented – partly a function of their collectability: Dallmeyer lenses have recently commanded higher values than comparable Ross or Kershaw optics. Although certain Taylor-Hobson lenses are valuable, others languish in relatively weak demand – whereas almost all Dallmeyers attract a premium. Surviving records from the 1863-1901 period give a sturdy timeline for taking lenses of the period. However, Delta’s remit is to ignore such collectables and illuminate the history of Dallmeyer’s special purpose lenses – including enlarger, projection and industrial optics. And this brought to light the somewhat sketchy nature of previously published timelines for Dallmeyer’s 20th century serial numbers. However, by combining Pont’s guide with the Vade Mecum, material obtained from a visit to the Brent Archives, and observation of hundreds of lenses selling or sold via auction – some of of which included packaging or receipts enabling pinpoint of dates, we were able to arrive at the following, improved serial number guide.

Dallmeyer’s scheme is – fortunately for collectors – one of the simple sequential type favoured by British and German manufacturers (AGFA notably excepted). As the company grew – especially during their peak output of 1895-1935 – the picture is clouded somewhat. Either the factory reserved serials in advance for specific ranges, or serial numbers were assigned to cells prior to later completion. Either way, it’s impossible to assign a Dallmeyer camera or lens to a specific year according to a general guide like the one below. For instance, a camera with a serial of 110,001 may have been manufactured in 1920, but a lens with a serial of 110,002 may have been made in 1918 or 1922. A more accurate guide, on a product-by-product basis, would be possible to create from the archive materials available, but this would be a much more time-consuming undertaking.

Generally, we have not relied of given estimates of lens dates – which tend to be Chinese-whispered. In this case it’s not necessary because (as indicated above) accessible material enables a good picture to built from a sieve of deductions from primary sources, based on the following:

Factory location: Packaging and advertising sometimes combine a serial number with an address. Dallmeyer were at the following North and Central London locations at the following times:

1888-191325 Newman St
1906-Late 191183 Denzil Rd, Neasden – thereafter moving into the Church End Works occupied by the company until it ceased trading
1913-191719,21,23 Oxford Street
1920- Sept 30, 1925Carlton House, 11D Regent St, SW1
Sept 30, 1925-194131 Mortimer St, Oxford St W1

Coating: Dallcoated lenses are known to have appeared around serial number 340,000-350,000 shortly after the end of World War II. Later lenses are marked with ‘DC’.

Introduction Dates of Models: Some lenses have well documented serial ranges and a known release date. The number ranges can be cross-checked against each other to increase the accuracy of an estimated connection between a given year and a given serial range.

Nested averaging around pivotal dates: TBA

Dallmeyer Serials 1863-1901

Serial NumberDate

Dallmeyer Serials 1902-c.1980

The following is newly constructed, and subject to ongoing revision. On average, 9400 per year. Between 1921-1955: 10773 per year. Between 1902-1921: 886 per year . . .

81,8411921 advert for new Serrac
106,120 / 107,5501925
280xxx Air Ministry some AM: 180,xxxc.1939-45
429465early 1950s
778102 (highest serial found to date)c.1980

Company Addresses:

68013/9 — 1900/14]

Coating about 350,000 /

Dallmeyer Speed VP: 102959 to 110093

Dallmeyer Speed 2.5″ x 3.5″ – 107079 to 145696

Dallmeyer Speed Reflex: 116167 to 134788

stigmatic SERII F6 5.3=3.5cm F=8 20cm – script logo – 77991

Series II No 4 Stigmatic 19cm – script logo – 83805 (“c.1906”)

114947 is probably 1920s

Dallmeyer Soft Focus 106253 (present in 1906)

132970 is c.1929

Dallac 8.5cm f2 advertised in 1955 Dallcoated.

Earliest Dallmeyer enlarging lenses in 1927

All-chrome PROJECTION 2″ – caps logo – 165470 (old-style box)

Dallmeyer Adon 14″ 355mm F:4.5 no.144742 Uncoated

Dallmeyer 38mm f/1.5 with script logo: 125436

Super Six Anastigmat F=2 1/2″ 62mm f/1.9 Cine Lens: 362438 (silver)
Super Six Anastigmat: 32/1.9: 305439 (silver)
Super Six Anastigmat: 38/1.9: 305438 (silver)
Super Six Anastigmat: 1.5 inch f2: 488251 (black)

3 inch telephoto f4 – caps logo – 348873

Pentax 4 inch f2.9 – caps logo – black – 341780

Serrac launched 1921 – advertised lens in 81841
Serrac 4 inch f4.5 – black – caps logo – 488907
Serrac 8 inch f4.5 – 299553 – black – caps logo
Serrac 4.5/3″ no.310861 (caps logo)
Serrac 8” ƒ4.5, 269181
Serrac 8 – 341334

F=3″ F/1.9 lens black – caps logo – 198491,

Dallon Tele-Anastigmat 5.6/4′ ( 100mm) – script logo: 202476
12″ F/7.7 12 Inch F7.7 DALLON TELE-Anastigmat – caps logo 202515
Dallon Tele-Anastigmat 7.7/12″ no.197545 (caps logo)
Dallon Series VI No. 1B 9-inch 5.6 – 98962
Dallon Series VI No. 4 – 17″ f5.6 – 101096
Dalon Series XVIII 9″ f5.6 telephoto – 101322
Dallon Series VI Mo. 1AA 6″ f5.6 – 106120 (given firmly as 1925)
Dallon 6″ f5.6 Exakta mount, chrome finish: 307611

Wide Angle Anastigmat 6.5/2 3/8″ no.537050 (caps logo)

Wide Angle Anastigmat 6.5/3 1/4 no.362242 (caps logo)

152mm Condenser: 658308

Air Ministry Broad Arrow Military 14A Wide Angle Anastigmat 5.5” – 280263

Dallmeyer Lens Projection F=1″ – 346970

DC Series PROJECTION: Black with silver collar: 7 inch: 555641

269181 — 1933/36
530713 — 1956/60
478362 — 1956/60

popular brass cine lens 1.5″ F4 – black – caps logo – 498531

5 1/4” ƒ6 No 2 Stigmatic Ser II, 68013/9. Numbers for front and rear cells.
4 1/4” ƒ6.5 Wide Angle Anastigmat, 530713
5 1/4” ƒ6.5 Wide Angle Anastigmat, 478362

Popular 4inch enlarging anastigmat #448128 advertised in 1955 publication. Dallcoated.

Max-Lite present in 1935
MaxLite 3 inch all silver: 319658
MaxLite 1″ all silver: 454004
MaxLite 3 inch 76mm Black/Zebra: 575219 / 683167 / 714515 (marked £1.87) (zebra)

Dallmeyer 35mm F1.6 Double Gauss Six Element 35mm Lens – UK Dealer – 2405 – ‘JHD’ logo – #778102

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