Cooke Anastigmat

Cooke Series II Anastigmat 13" f/4.5

Cooke Series II Anastigmats, by the famous firm of Taylor, Taylor and Hobson, are real treasures, very collectable, and NOT cheap.  Pete bought this one from the daughter of the previous owner, a photographer, who had kept it as an ornament for decades, and probably never used it at all.  It didn’t need a lot of work to get it into usable condition. Cooke lenses were made with outstanding precision.  In fact the company, after going through a number of take-overs, still exists as Cooke Optics, and still makes large format camera lenses, but is better known for high quality cine lenses, used on all sorts of Hollywood blockbuster movies.  

Early in the 1900s they invented a machine for measuring the accuracy of lens surfaces, which enabled them to grind lenses to higher degrees of precision than other manufacturers.  They always were innovators and at the upper end of the market.  The Series II Anastigmat is the f/4.5 version intended for portraiture, and larger sizes, like this one, have a soft focus control.  Later versions have a two-finger grip for adjusting the aperture and are known as “knucklers”.  Those are optically identical but much more expensive.  They’re characterised by great sharpness and very smooth fall-off and bokeh.  This one came without a mounting ring, and is a heavy beast.  It’s fitted to a tilt/swing mount with behind-the-lens guillotine shutter, all in solid oak with brass adjusting screws.