RADIAL DRIVE DAGUERREIAN LENS NO. 654
Palmer & Longking, Newburg & New York circa 1854
Palmer & Longking quarter-plate radial drive daguerreian (or early wet plate) era lens, Serial No. 654.
In 1853, Aaron F. Palmer and Joseph Longking purchased the Gardner, Harrison & Company factory that was previously owned by William & William H. Lewis. Palmer & Longking would continue the manufacture of Lewis' daguerreotype camera design, along with developing equipment and other related daguerreian materials. These were marked bearing their stamp "Palmer & Longking, Manufacturers of Daguerreotype Apparatus, Newburg & New York".
Lenses bearing the Palmer & Longking name have been found with round focus drive mounts, as well as square ones. Having a square, radial drive focus mount, the lens barrel on this Serial No. 654 example is nearly identical in construction to those marked by J.W. Thompson and others:
Palmer & Longking No. 654 J.W. Thompson No. 107
Some lens collectors believe these early lens barrels were made by either Gardner, Harrison & Company or Levi Chapman about 1852/1853. The straight knurling on the focus knobs (versus angled) and the square focus mount (versus round) suggest this lens was probably manufactured earlier in Palmer & Longking's existence around 1854. These design features have been found on lenses by other makers from the early 1850's. This example is marked "No. 654, Palmer & Longking, New York". It's accompanied by its brass lens cap and stands approximately 4-1/8" in height, with a barrel diameter of 2-1/8".
According to The Men, the Camera and Their Factory, William Lewis, William H. Lewis , Aaron F. Palmer and Joseph Longking by Stuart Wilensky, 1981, Palmer & Longking was known to have marketed lenses in the quarter-plate to double whole plate sizes in E. Anthony's catalogues. Based upon the similarities with other lenses as previously mentioned, and with someone else providing the barrels, it's doubtful that Palmer & Longking was manufacturing the glass elements. This all suggests that, like some other camera makers of the period, Palmer & Longking privately branded this lens.
Any apparatus marked Palmer & Longking is rarely seen today.