Saturday December 10th found me with a "new 2 me"
portrait lens of some renown.
A Pinkham & Smith Series IV Visual Quality 13"!

This lens has always been rare and sought even in the days when
the dinosaurs were roaming the earth un-checked.  A peruse of
the 1959 Burke & James catalog which includes a literal
who's who of portrait lenses over 2 pages with Verito's,
Cooke's, and Vitax's being common as dirt found not a
single Pinkham & Smith of any variety.

Indeed as much as I love learning the history accurately
of all my lenses there is VERY little information to be
had on the web or in any of the written resources I own.
Thus I will make some educated guesses and hope that
perhaps with luck someone who actually has some good
solid information will chime into the discussion.

My lens simply states on the forward barrel that it is
a Pinkham & Smith Series IV Visual Quality 13".
As soon as I unwrapped the lens I said to myself
this was built by Wollensak.  That isn't to say the
optical design is Wollensak, just that it seems to be
spec'd by talent at Pinkham & Smith, a large Boston
photo retailer, perhaps Walter Wolf?, and built at
Wollensak Optical.

The reasons I'm guessing this are that first, it was
very common practice in the period roughly 1890
to 1920 for big houses to have their names on
lenses built elsewhere.  ie. I own an Eastman petzval
and a Hyatt petzval, and previously owned a
SeRoCo Petzval, all identical, and all built by
Bausch & Lomb.  I have a SeRoCo petzval
that is identical to Wollensak f5 series petzval
and even has the Wollensak name on the black
band next to the studio shutter.  And second,
the look and finish is identical to my 11 1/2"
Verito.  I could interchange the front barrels
of the Verito and the Pinkham & Smith lens.  The
Verito's rear barrel is longer but threads are the
same.  The flange is interchangeable between
the 2 lenses.  Still, a guess, but a fair one and
I'm anxious to hear from anyone who has a good

Jay Allen says the Verito and the P&S are similar
lenses, and that may be true to a point, but they
are different optically.  The Verito has a single
light in front and an achromat in back.  Where the
P&S has doublets both front and back like a
Rapid Rectilinear.  It seems better corrected
wide open than a Verito.  Much less fuzzy at
f4.  Interesting that the Visual Quality hints that
 it gets all of it's work done between f4 and f8
with aperture scales of f4 f4.5 f5 f6 f7 and f8 all
engraved.  After f8 there are dashes so you can find
the stops on up to f22 or so but they arent listed.

The photos I'm including that I did on Saturday
are just the tiniest scratch on the surface of what
any of the lenses I used that day can provide.  Still it
is surprising what you can learn even with only a
couple of uses.

It was bitter cold in Tonopah Nevada on Saturday
and I knew my chances for getting friends to
model outdoors would be limited.  Since I'm a
novice I find shooting males to be much less
daunting on so many levels.  They can be
ready in less than 30 seconds.  They don't really
care much what the picture will look like.  Mostly,
they want to get back to a good game and a beer.
Since I'm a consumate coward, why would I
even consider tackling women?

I did 5 shots with 3 lenses.  The Pinkham & Smith 13",
the 11 1/2" Verito, and a giant 20" Voigtlander
Euryscop IV No. 6 Portrait, all on 8X10.  I used my
venerated Eastman 2D 8X10.  It has both extensions,
a 30" bellows, and the 7" Packard has a recent
overhaul and is working extemely well.  The big
Packard actually is stuffed into the first bellows fold
but anything smaller wouldn't have a shutter aperture
 big enough for even these moderate portrait lenses.

Roy Epperly   13" P&S lens @ f7

Roy Epperly   11 1/2" Wollensak Verito lens @ f8

Roy Epperly  20" Voigtlander Euryscop Portrait #6 @ f8+
Note: It would have taken a 36-38" bellows to get a head
and shoulder shot with this giant lens!  I was maxed out @
slightly less than 30 inches for this pic.  Crisp!?  Oh my.

Willie Mosher   13" P&S lens @ f7

Willie Mosher   11 1/2" Verito lens @ f7