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Hensoldt Penta Feldstecher 7x22.6

Started by Frank Lagorio, December 31, 2017, 03:56:52 am

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Frank Lagorio

December 31, 2017, 03:56:52 am Last Edit: December 31, 2017, 03:59:27 am by Frank Lagorio
I recently acquired this  Hensoldt Penta Feldstecher 7x22.6 with U.S. Navy markings almost definitely indicating that it was WW I donated binocular.

Before receiving it I did not think it would be in very usable optical condition: I was certain the cemented prisms would have become separated and possibly loose and badly chipped and that the other prisms' reflective coatings (silver?) would be tarnished and badly flaking (since this frequently happens to the reflective prism coatings of the well-built Uppendahl Trinovids and Leitz Elcans made 60-70 years later I was certain it would have likewise happened to the Penta Feldstecher). However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that neither of these things had occurred (slight separation along the very edge of one prism that does not affect image) and that its optical performance is still quite good.

The prism assembly is a beautiful little thing and its condition is amazing. It's surprising that the smaller prism which is cemented to the larger one without any support whatsoever hasn't after 100 years separated from the larger one but it hasn't. I believe the large screw at the bottom of the prism assembly is for moving the assembly in order to collimate. The marking on the end of the IPD tightening knob is "Von Lengerke & Detmold New York", an upscale New York firearms and fishing tackle dealer (1882-1928). 

According Peter Abraham's europa.com site listing this model was manufactured 1899-1900. This example and others I know of are not serial numbered. Note that the binocular's widely spaced objective lenses seem to be in violation of the Zeiss patent.  Perhaps Hensoldt contended that having a roof prism instead of a Porro prism binocular allowed the company to circumvent the patent. At any rate, I'm sure that Zeiss did not take this lying down and there must have been quite a legal battle about it in the German courts. It would be an interesting story.

Any information members could provide about this binocular is appreciated.

Winfried Tuerk

December 31, 2017, 12:42:42 pm #1 Last Edit: January 02, 2018, 01:13:01 am by Winfried Tuerk
Hello Frank, congratulations to your find and restauration of your 1900 Pentaprisma=Binocle! You did a great job! Further information you will get by Wolfgang Kornmann. All the best, Winfried
living without binoculars is possible but senseless - paraphrasing Loriot "living without puc is possible ..."

Rodolfo Peirano

Congratulation also from me Frank, A very interesting binocular. The system for locking prisms is a small masterpiece.

I would like a confirmation from you: The lower incision US.NAVY etc. was it done only on the binoculars given to the navy by the civilians ?

Thanks and Happy new year.
everyone can learn from everyone - Rodolfo

Frank Lagorio

"The lower incision US.NAVY etc. was it done only on the binoculars given to the navy by the civilians ?"

I don't claim to be an expert on this but it appears to me that many WW I U.S. Navy binoculars were engraved "U.S. Navy" on an objective prism plate in the fashion seen on the Hensoldt whether a donation or Navy contract binocular. However, if the binocular were a donated one there was also an R (registered?) inside a parallelogram marking on an objective prism plate whereas if the binocular were one purchased from a supplier under Navy contract there would be an N inside a parallelogram marking instead. Attached is a photo of a Navy contract 6x30 Crown Optical Military Stereo 6x30 with the N marking and a photo of another donated binocular, this one a 6x Feldstecher (serial number 18) with the R marking like the Hensoldt. Also attached are pictures taken from eBay of some WW I period Navy letters about donated binoculars.

Frank Lagorio

Here's a slightly larger and easier to read copy of the Navy letters.

Rodolfo Peirano

Hi Franck,

thanks for information of the difference between the R (registered?) and the N.

Me too I have a Zeiss Teleduz 12x with the R engraved.

everyone can learn from everyone - Rodolfo


Circle R and Circle N:
The Navy markings are not entirely understood.  Two marks, Circle N and Circle R, followed by a number, also found on sextants.  They are an inspection / acceptance mark, probably one used on donated civilian instruments, and one used on Navy issue instruments.  Maybe N = BuNav & R = BuOrd.  People have asked the US Navy history office & the Smithsonian, and the answer was 'we don't know'.

from my notes


Yes, that is a beautiful glass, one of the really elegant old binoculars; and it is a pity that Zeiss' over-aggressive patent manoeuvres caused their demise.

"According Peter Abraham's europa.com site listing this model was manufactured 1899-1900."

....that Hensoldt listing was one of my very early efforts and it has been greatly superceded by Kornmann. But I don't know if he's distributed a text yet.
-Peter A.

Quote from: Winfried Tuerk on December 31, 2017, 12:42:42 pm
Hello Frank, congratulations for your find and restauration of your 1900 Pentaprisma=Binocle! You did a great job! Further information you will get by Wolfgang Kornmann. All the best, Winfried

Per Ejler

Hi, we hold two of these early Hensoldt bino's. A 5X and a 9X. Not refurbished and with original cover. I am very interested in all information about this serie. The Hensoldt name imprint proberly tell the most about our two pieces, it indicate they are fairly early, but the only photo I can provide are these:



Guess they were made before another two in our collection also with sparkling view;


P.s. I moved many photos from the collection to Pinterest , all presant in the collection;


Winfried Tuerk

Hej Per!

Your're presenting wonderful early penta and roof prism binoculars! They look like new, where they refurbished?

Being not quite familar with these very early Hensoldt models, I guess the penta ones are a little older, made short after 1900 while the roof prism ones belongs to the first serie starting 1905. See the ad in the attachment from 1906 (in the magazine "Jugend").

The Hensoldt specialist is Wolfgang Kornmann.

Vi ses Winfried
living without binoculars is possible but senseless - paraphrasing Loriot "living without puc is possible ..."

Per Ejler

Thank's, these are the first time I see the "Ur dialyt" in an add. We were so lucky to find two, 6X and 12X magnification, where the 6X show individual focus adjustment.  The "Penta" designs are a completely different animal but surprisingly all four are wonderful clear the way only an early rooftop can be. From screws of the Pentas it seem they never been opened or atleast new must have been added in that case. The early Dialyts are more difficult. But the most important issue are good; the tread are not stuck. But impossible to know if they been restored my guess are that they could have been, but the seller of the 12X were not happy about even selling it, -- she thought 32 Eur were maybe to much for such dirty binoculars, in fact she warned me that they looked like being under the ground in dirt, but she wasn't used to sell vintage items of that sort, so....  Really all I did was to "wash" them, and today I could take them out for using them, so if that is a measure for quality it is simply top with these.
Still we kind of follow another track about collecting binos. The latest have been luxury Opera MOP binos and "spoils" overlooked while trend seem to have changed. I am still surprised how lucky we used to be, but while I have more and more gone into foto, the treasure hunt been focusing on high quality A-Mount Sony and Minolta for my new Sony mirrorless. Also manual quality lenses of course but that is a different story.
Maybe it is like this, atleast the way we been progressing, -- that to get a few of the real Gems, you end up with numbers of doublets, loads of true early german military ; why didn't we stop when we reached 4 brass ended and 6 Alu ended Df.99 when majority were good. Should I start to sell out and not store all those juicy doublets ? The Df.99 are one among many we have to many doublets of, like the various Moller/Wedel Theatis models. --- On the other hand, it don't seem the best time, selling out .

Winfried Tuerk

32 Euro for such fantastic gems, unbelivable Per!

To get sticky center drives of old Hensoldt binoculars (made before 1954/55) apart isn't always that easy. The drive consists of 3 parts. First part is the inner wheel, where both eyepiece arms forming the hinge are mounted on the upper end. This wheel is executed as long screw with very steep threats on the lower end. The wheel is rotating in a outer sleeve (second part) with its counter threats. The outer sleeve itself rotates (or should rotate...) in a third part of the construction, executed as plain hollow axle. Both have only very slight clearance between themselves. Old lubricants stick both often together.
If sticky I try first to heat with a hair dryer or short (!) application of a butane torch's flame (sic! I learned to do so from Frank Lagorio, thanks Frank  :) ) and to add a 50:50 mixture of acetone and creeping oil (thanks Niall  :) ). After several application cycles of heat and oil/acetone spread over several days often the whole center drive get loose. If not, one have to remove the whole 3-parts-drive from the binoculars, then loosen the black tighten screw on the top and put the whole assembly several days in the acetone/creeping oil mixture. Up to now I got all drives loose that way.

Important for stripping down old technical gear are heat, oil, and in particular patience!
living without binoculars is possible but senseless - paraphrasing Loriot "living without puc is possible ..."

Per Ejler

Thank's --- this is just like I expected. My attitude are simply to leave it there, not try myself to take these parts apart as what keep them stuck can just as often be previous owners failed attempts to dismantle as well as what you point to hardened grease.  To put it simple, I personally find these early gems to important, not to let a professional do the repair.

Winfried Tuerk

Hej Per, of course it's better to let the items untouched than to damage them by using inappropriate means.

However, often the things' evolution is hidden in their inside ;)
living without binoculars is possible but senseless - paraphrasing Loriot "living without puc is possible ..."