ANC ne Mon Jamin, Darlot, Sr, Paris            circa 1864


This tangential drive Darlot Landscape Lens, is often referred to by collectors as a "pillbox". Lenses of this style having a single combination element were intended primarily for landscape work.


Alphonse Darlot, who had apprenticed under Lerebours et Secretan, went to work for Jean Theodore Jamin around 1852. According to A History of the Photographic Lens by Rudolf Kingslake, "In 1860 Jamin retired and handed over management of the company to his employee Alphonse Darlot. For a year their lenses were labeled Jamin and Darlot, then the name Jamin was dropped." Jamin is also speculated to have partnered with Darlot about 1860, with the Jamin name still appearing on lenses for several years thereafter.

Conflicting information was encountered while attempting to date this landscape lens. Based upon the content of the maker's seal per Photographic Lenses of the 1800's in France by Corrado D'Agostini, this particular example was manufactured 1864-1866. However, this same reference also states that by 1863, only the inscription "Darlot, Paris" appears. Pending more information, it's reasonable to conclude that this lens dates from the early to mid-1860's. Many Darlot lenses are found signed, with Darlot's name, the date of manufacture or other information inked or penciled along the glass element's edge. Presently, I'm unable to remove the element's retaining ring on this example, to see if any information exists.


This 5 pound 7 ounce example, measuring approximately 5-1/4" in height with a barrel diameter of 5-1/8", utilizes disc (or washer) stops. The lens is engraved "ANC ne Mon Jamin Darlot, Sr. Paris" with an overlapped "AD" (for Alphonse Darlot) and a serial number of 24,659.  The French words "Anc ne Mon" loosely translates to "my elder", which in essence was Alphonse Darlot's acknowledgement of his predecessor Theodore Jamin:



The firm's existence transcended the daguerreian, wet plate and dry plate eras, with Darlot continuing to manufacture a variety of lens styles through the 1890's. Some of Darlot's lenses were marketed by E. & H.T. Anthony & Company under their well known "EA" trademark, appearing in Anthony's catalogues through 1901. Pillbox-style lenses were also sold by other French makers such as A. Laverne, Lerebours et Secretan and Hermagis to name a few.


Smaller-sized Darlot landscape lenses from the late 1880's and 1890's are seen on occasion today. Earlier examples from the wet plate era, especially in larger formats, are rarely encountered.