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Taylor-Hobson are lens and precision instrument manufacturers based in Leicester, England.

The company was founded as T.S. and W. Taylor in 1886 by engineer William & optician Thomas Smithies Taylor. In 1887, W.S.H. Hobson joined the company.

In 1893 they produced their first Cooke lenses, designed by H. Dennis Taylor (no relation to the company founders) - optics manager of T. Cooke & Sons, York. Taylor was attempting to eliminate the aberrations at the outer edge of lenses, and in 1893 patented the Cooke triplet design (British patent no. 1991)[1]. Manufacturing rights were offered to Taylor, Taylor & Hobson, as the company was then known.

In 1932, the first Cooke zoom lens was introduced for cine applications. Around this time, Taylor, Taylor and Hobson was part-owned by Bell and Howell.[2] By 1939, Taylor-Hobson claim to have produced over 80% of lenses for film studios across the world[3]. Like much of the British photographic industry, the company became part of Rank at some time in the '40s.[2]

The company still exists, making lenses and lens measurement equipment, as well as measuring devices used in industrial and medical fields [4]. It is currently part of the US-based Ametek, Inc. The separate lens company, Cooke Optics, also still exists in Leicester.

William Taylor was also responsible for testing golf balls in a wind tunnel, and developing a dimpled golf ball[3].

Taylor, Taylor and Hobson Lenses

  • Adotal
  • Apotal
  • Aviar
  • Cooke Amotal
  • Cooke Portrait Anastigmat
  • Cooke triplet
  • Ental
  • Ortal
  • Roytal
  • Telepanchro[5]
  • Casket sets
    • No. 3 Casket[6]

T-H lenses may be dated from their serial numbers. Taylor, Taylor and Hobson also made Talykron shutters that some of these lenses are mounted in.


British companies
Adams & Co. | Agilux | Aldis | APeM | Aptus | Artima | Barnet Ensign | Beard | Beck | Benetfink‎ | Billcliff | Boots | British Ferrotype | Butcher | Chapman | Cooke | Corfield | Coronet | Dallmeyer | Dekko | De Vere | Dixons | Dollond | Elliott | Gandolfi | Gnome | Griffiths | G. Hare | Houghtons | Houghton-Butcher | Hunter | Ilford | Jackson | Johnson | Kentmere | Kershaw-Soho | Kodak Ltd. | Lancaster | Lejeune and Perken | Lizars | London & Paris Optic & Clock Company | Marion | Marlow | Meagher | MPP | Neville | Newman & Guardia | Pearson and Denham | Perken, Son and Company | Perken, Son & Rayment | Photopia | Purma | Reid & Sigrist | Reynolds and Branson | Ross | Ross Ensign | Sanderson | Sands & Hunter | Shackman | Shew | Soho | Standard Cameras Ltd | Taylor-Hobson | Thornton-Pickard | Underwood | United | Watkins | Watson | Wynne's Infallible | Wray


  1. Company history at the Cooke Optics website
  2. 2.0 2.1 Company information at Early Photography; the notes cite Rudolf Kingslake's History of the Photographic Lens (1989), Academic Press.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Company history at the Taylor-Hobson company web site
  4. Products Overview at the Taylor-Hobson website.
  5. Cooke Telepanchro 16 inch (406 mm) f/4 adapted for Nikon F mount, c1960, sold (for €2160) at the 20th Westlicht Photographica Auction, on 1 November 2011.
  6. Consisting of the lens barrel with rear element and four interchangeable front elements engraved W.A.R Front, R.R. Front, W.A.R. Back, and R.R. Back. The lens barrel has a built-in iris diaphragm near the front, and is engraved 'EQ.Foc 3in'; 'EQ. Foc 3.34.in' and 'EQ. Foc 5.4 in' with three sets of aperture settings marked 'W.A.R.,' 'R.R.,' 'and 'R.V.' (Seen in an on-line auction Jan 2014).