Beck

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R & J Beck was a renowned British optical company based in London.[1] It was founded in 1843 by the nephews of J.J. Lister, Richard Beck (1827-1866) and Joseph Beck (1828-1891) who were in partnership with a famous instrument maker, James Smith (d. 1870): the firm started as Smith and Beck. In 1854 the company was renamed to Smith, Beck and Beck. After Smith's retirement in 1865 the company became R & J Beck. It produced a wide range of optical products: microscopes, telescopes, trench periscopes for army officers in the First World War, eye test glasses for opticians (optometer lenses), other optical equipment, and camera lenses and even some cameras.

Beck Optronic Solutions in Hemel Hempstead has this statement on their web site:

Beck Optronic Solutions can trace an optical lineage back to James Smith who founded a business in 1839 financed by the famous physicist JJ Lister, and later partnered with Richard and Joseph Beck to create a renowned company who were early pioneers of microscope design and manufacture.[2]


A Beck Symmetrical is quite a commonly-seen lens on British folding cameras. Some cameras of the Ensign brand have lenses branded as "Beck Ensign". Thornton-Pickard had lenses marked "Thornton Pickard - Beck Symmetrical Lens". T. E. Lawrence (1888-1935; 'Lawrence of Arabia') used a plate camera made by Beck.[3]




Cameras

  • Dai Cornex (1905)
Folding camera for 123 rollfilm 4 x 5 inches. Fitted with a Beck-Steinheil Orthostigmat lens, Series I and a Bausch and Lomb Unicum shutter [4]
  • Frena (1894)
  • Hill Sky Camera (1924)


Lenses

  • Asymmetrical[5]
  • Autograph Wide Angle Lens (100°) (~1888)[6]
  • Beck-Steinheil Orthostigmat
    • Series I[7]
    • Series IV No.1, 2.87"[8]
  • Biplanat
    • N° 2, 5"
    • N° 3, 6"
    • N° 5, 9" f/5.6-f/45
    • N° 6, 11"[9]
  • Convertible Double Apeanat 9" f/7.7[10]
  • Enlarging Anastigmat 2 1/4in f/4.5[11]
  • Ensign Anastigmat Series VIIn nº 0
  • Isostigmar
    • 4.75"[12]
    • 7.2" f/7.7[13]
    • Variable Softness Portrait Ser.VI f/5.6 (1908)
  • Microstigmar
  • Multiflex Lens f/8[14]
  • Neostigmar Series IIIn No.3 5" [15]
  • Rapid Rectilinear 11 inch f/8 (~1910)[16]
  • Symmetrical Lens

Guided Weapons Lenses

The following lenses have been documented[19]


Notes

  1. In 1867-80, 31 Cornhill; in 1881-1900, 68 Cornhill. Factory at Lister Works, Kentish Town, Holloway.
  2. http://beckoptronic.com/about/
  3. T. E. Lawrence and his Cameras at the Museum of the History of Science, University of Oxford
  4. NMSI - Objects Cornex rollfilm camera
  5. See this image set
  6. Beck's Wide Angle "Autograph" Lens at Antique Wood Cameras
  7. NMSI - Objects, Cornex rollfilm camera
  8. NMSI - Objects, Beck-Steinheil Orthostigmat lens
  9. NMSI - Objects, Biplanat N° 6 (archived)
  10. Online auction Dec 2011
  11. Online auction Dec 2011
  12. NMSI - Objects, Folding bellows hand camera
  13. British half plate camera , with Isostigmar 7.2" f/7.7 sn. #19042 Online auction Dec 2011
  14. NMSI - Objects, Multiflex Lens
  15. NMSI - Objects, Neostigmar Series (archived)
  16. NMSI - Objects, Rapid rectilinear lens (archived)
  17. NMSI - Objects, Symmetrical Lens
  18. Beck Symmetrical 12 Inch F8 from Markus Glück on Flickr
  19. Spennemann, Dirk HR (2015) History, Description and Technical Details of the GW Target Aircraft Cameras designed for testing the performance of guided weapons during the Cold War era. CAMERA | TOPIA (Albury, NSW). 34pp, ISBN 978 1 921220 17 3; DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.3864.9449
  20. Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (2015). Photographic Walk-Around of the Target Aircraft Camera Dekko GW1 Mk 1A. [CAMERA | TOPIA] (Albury NSW). 6 pp
  21. Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (2015). Photographic Walk-Around of the Target Aircraft Camera Dekko GW1 Mk 1A. [CAMERA | TOPIA] (Albury NSW). 6 pp
  22. Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (2015) Photographic Walk-Around of the Target Aircraft Camera Dekko GW2 Mk 2 Model 2. [CAMERA | TOPIA] (Albury, NSW). 6 pp.
  23. Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (2015). Photographic Walk-Around of the Target Aircraft Camera Dekko GW1 Mk 1C [CAMERA | TOPIA] (Albury NSW). 8 pp.


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