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Zeiss 3 x 20 Teleplast and a comparison to the 5 x 20 model

 

 


Introduction
Markings on the Teleplast
The frame numbers
Internal numbers
The body changes
The Sprenger-Leman prism
A few words about Zeiss cases
Teleplast in Optical Museum in Jena
Acknowledgments


Introduction
We have a pleasure to introduce one of the rarest optical instruments, the Zeiss 3 x 20 Teleplast. It belongs to the USA collector – Dr Stephen Rohan and we have taken the opportunity to make an examination of that piece, as it was completely and professionally  serviced by Terry Vacani.
 

 

 

Teleplast 3x - 25% for web


       Teleplast 3 x - production number 141133 - from Dr Stephen Rohan collection; Copyright picture Anna Vacani
                                          

 

 

Let’s make a closer examination of the Teleplast models - ‘3 x’ and ‘5 x’.
The Teleplast models were produced by Carl Zeiss, Jena.  The Teleplast were produced in small numbers from 1907 to 1909 only.
Larry Gubas writing in “Zeiss Historica” in Volume 12, Number 1 – spring 1990 edition, says: “This Teleplast design was the first Zeiss binocular to use roof prism image-erecting system”.
We would like to add suitable information about the prism fitted in this model.
Dr Hans Seeger says: “It was the first Zeiss binocular using the Sprenger-Leman prism, a prism with a roof edge”.
 This kind of prism was fitted much earlier in German binoculars, as Hensoldt about 1899.
Dr Hans Seeger, in his the newest book is telling more about the prism, in this model – pages 387 – 396:
Hans T. Seeger - Zeiss-Feldstecher Handferngl├Ąser von 1894-1919. Modelle - Merkmale - Mythos. The book is in German language. Zeiss binoculars and hand binoculars from 1894-1919. Models - Features - Myth – (the title translated by Google); Dr Hans T. Seeger, Hamburg 2010, ISBN 3-00-031440-7.
 
Markings on the Teleplast
The descriptions on the Teleplast were altered many times in a short period of the production. It is much different than any other optical instrument made by Zeiss at that time.
The ‘Zeiss Carl Jena’ logo, on the first models 3 x magnification, and 5 magnifications is engraved on the ring of the objective:


Teleplast 3x Zeiss logo- 30% for web


        Teleplast 3 x - production number 141133 - from Dr Stephen Rohan collection; Copyrights picture Anna Vacani

On the other objective ring is engraved the production number, and below is engraved “3 x”.   

Teleplast 3x production numer - 50% for web


        Teleplast 3 x - production number 141133 - from Dr Stephen Rohan collection; Copyrights picture Anna Vacani


The earlier production number - 141116, was seen with the identical ‘3 x’ description:

3x ebay 141116-80%for web


                                                         The picture sent by Thomas Antoniades

Dr Helga Beez and Dr Hans Seeger in the article: “Fernglas-Rarit├Ąten aus dem Optischen Museum Jena, Teil I”, Hamburg – September 1993 (in our collection) have given a short description of the Teleplast models.  In the article is inserted a picture of a Teleplast 3 x, produced ca 1905, with a different description placed on the house prism.

Jena Museum-Carl Zeiss marking30% teleplast


The picture from the article: “Fernglas-Rarit├Ąten aus dem Optischen Museum Jena, Teil I” by Dr. Helga Beez, Jena and Dr. Hans Seeger, Hamburg – September 1993 (in our collection), page 16. Copyrights picture Dr. Hans Seeger    

 
At the same time was produced the model 5 x magnification. This model with production number - 141165 has a little different description; the letters were raised with silver, but placed on the objective ring.

 
Teleplast 5x 50% for web


Teleplast model ‘5 x’ - production number 141165 - from Dr Stephen Rohan collection; Copyrights picture Dr Stephen Rohan

Teleplast 5x 50% (2)for web


Teleplast model ‘5 x’ - production number 141165 - from Dr Stephen Rohan collection; Copyrights picture Dr Stephen Rohan

An earlier production of the 3 x Teleplast was inscribed in absolutely different way.   The marks: Zeiss logo, magnification and production number are placed on the internal sides, beside the hinge.
A Londoner collector - Thomas Antoniades has in his collection the 3 x model with another kind of the description. This teleplast with production number – 124728 was an earlier production than the models described above.
In this way we can come to a conclusion, that in a short time were produced two absolutely differently designed teleplast.


3x Thomas 30%for web


                  Teleplast model 3 x from Thomas Antoniades collection.  Copyrights picture Thomas Antoniades

Later production number of 3 x - 137836 (in Thomas Antoniades collection) has similar description as the model pictured above.
Referring to Dr Hans Seeger book, mentioned above, the earlier model ‘3 x’ received a new engraved description: “Feldstecher Vergr. = 3”. It does mean the Teleplast was classified as the binocular:

Teleplast 3xFeldstecher plate


                The picture sent by Thomas Antoniades and placed in Dr Hans Seeger new book as well, page 387

The Teleplast was sold not only in Buenos Aires, but as we were told by other collectors, the Teleplast was sold by Bausch & Lomb Optical Company in Rochester, N.Y., and received new markings. On the body of that Teleplast was embodied “TELEPLAST 3 x”, presumably by the company Bausch & Lomb, which logo is located on the right part of the house prism.

3x -Bush&Lomb 60% for web


Busch&Lomb plate 60%


                                                        The picture sent by Thomas Antoniades
The frame numbers
On the model 3 x was applied an additional description – the frame number.

3x hinge Thomas 40%for web


                        Teleplast Model 3 x – the frame number. Copyrights picture Thomas Antoniades

At that time the model 5 x descriptions is placed on the internal sides, beside the hinge as well.

5x Teleplast Thomas 30% for web


                  Teleplast Model 5 x from Thomas Antoniades collection. Copyrights picture Thomas Antoniades

The description of the frame number was continued on the 5x model.

 
5x Teleplast-hinge Thomas 40% for web


        Teleplast Model 5 x frame number - from Thomas Antoniades collection; Copyrights picture Thomas Antoniades

 

 



Internal numbers
We have to come back to model 3 x magnification, production number 141133. The frame number is not visible on the external surface of the frame. 
Opening the Teleplast prism house, two numbers are visible.  One is on the internal frame:

3x internal number of frame30%for web


              Teleplast 3 x - production number 141133 - internal frame number 92; Copyrights picture Anna Vacani

Another internal number is visible, on the cover of the house prism. 

3x internal number of cover 50%for web


                     Teleplast 3 x - production number 141133 - cover number 93; Copyrights picture Anna Vacani

Presumably, that it is not the frame number.
Because every cover is handmade, it was given the number for a proper assembly of the parts of the optical instruments, or it is a number for ordering spare parts.

The body changes
The hinges applied in the Teleplast allowed extremely flat folding.

                      Teleplast 3x 40% for web                           Teleplast 3x 40% (2)for web 
          Teleplast 3 x - production number 141133 - from Dr Stephen Rohan collection; Copyrights picture Anna Vacani

Looking closer at all models, it is noticeable that the construction of the hinges changed as well. Later models have much thicker hinges than early 3 x model.

                  3x hinge 60% for web                          5x hinge 50% for web-S.Rohan  
                               Model 3 x prod. No 141133                    Model 5 x prod. No 141165 from Dr S. Rohan collection

                                                
Thomas-5x hinge


                 Teleplast Model 5 x from Thomas Antoniades collection; Copyrights picture Thomas Antoniades

The Teleplast gives a very good stereo effect owing to the wide separation of the objective glasses. The eye pieces, on model 3 x – number production – 141133, have long eye relief – the distance between the eye lens and the eye is long:

Teleplast 3x  eye pices 30% for web


That kind of high eye relief can be found only in the 3 x model.  In this way this model looks to be very unusual. The design of eyepiece models 5 x magnification is related to modern binoculars.

The Sprenger-Leman prism
Let’s look closer to the prism of the Teleplast.
The Teleplast ‘3 x’ is fitted with the Leman – Teleplast prism (look for Leman prism on our web site: Binoculars -> German -> Hensoldt prototype -> click here). The shape of the body is the same as the prism.

Sprenger-Leman 3x25% for web


                                       Leman- Teleplast prism – Model 3 x ; Copyrights picture Anna Vacani

And the same shape of the prism is fitted into the model 5 x:

Sprenger- Leman 5x Jurgen 40%for web


               The picture sent kindly by Dr J├╝rgen Laucher - 5 x Teleplast; Copyrights picture Dr J├╝rgen Laucher

Teleplast  Leman prism3x 40% (2)for web


                           The Leman – Teleplast prism fitted in the Model 3 x;  Copyrights picture Anna Vacani

As we can see, in the picture below, the model 5 x is fitted with the same prism:

b Leman Prisma in Carl Zeiss Teleplast 40% for web


The picture sent kindly by Dr J├╝rgen Laucher - 5 x Teleplast – production number 141167; Copyrights picture Dr J├╝rgen Laucher

b Leman Prisma in Carl Zeiss Teleplast - Copy 40% for web


 In the picture, on the right site, is visible the bottom mounting of the prism in ‘5 x’ model ; Copyrights picture Dr J├╝rgen Laucher

The mounting of the prism in ‘3 x’ model is precisely the same. The prisms in both models and the technique of montage was applied the same.
That technique has been seen in other binoculars with a comparable shape of the body.  In our collection is Binocular Carl Zeiss Jena – Stenotar 5 x 12 with Sprenger Leman prism built-in.
         Carl Zeiss 5x12 our 15%for web     Carl Zeiss 5x12 our collection,20%for web



 
Carl Zeiss Jena Stenotar 5 x 12 – serial number: 1229743 ca 1923 from our collection. Copyrights pictures Anna Vacani

Carl Zeiss 5x12 our,20%for web


       Carl Zeiss Jena Stenotar 5 x 12 from our collection – Sprenger Leman prism. Copyrights pictures Anna Vacani

The same system of internal numbers was applied, in this binocular, similar to Teleplast models.    
The visible differences are in the prism mount.   
We can see that the prism is turned round, because on the Stenotar model the objectives are mounted close together. The reason of this design was to give not stereo perspective effect as it was in the Teleplast, and to make the binocular more compact design.                                 


Carl Zeiss 5x12 our, 20%for web


Carl Zeiss Jena Stenotar 5 x 12 – from our collection – internal number in the corner, and the cover plate number. Copyrights pictures Anna Vacani

Presumably more similar binoculars, with the same internal structure, were produced in that period.

A few words about Zeiss cases
The Teleplast 3 x production number 141133 is rare in other way as well.
It was sold in: Florida 171 Buenos-Aires, by Lutz y Shultz as this name is printed in gold on the box cover.

     Case Buenos Aires 30% for web        Case Buenos Aires(2) 30% for web        
   
Presumably that company produced the leather case as it is not original Zeiss made case. The company produced the case probably because of very high taxation for imported leather.
The next example of not original case was seen by other collector:

3x ebay 141116-box60%for web


                                                         The picture sent by Thomas Antoniades

The original Zeiss cases for Teleplast Models: 3 x and 5 x we can see in the pictures below:

                    3x case Thomas 30%for web              Teleplast 3x case - Thomas coll. 40% for web      

      The cases for 3 x (left) and 5 x(right) from Thomas Antoniades collection ; Copyrights picture Thomas Antoniades

Teleplast case 5x 40% for web


               Pict.1; The Teleplast 5 x case from Dr Stephen Rohan collection; Copyrights picture Dr Stephen Rohan

  
Teleplast case 5x 50% (2) for web


Pict.2 The Teleplast 5 x case from Dr Stephen Rohan collection; Copyrights picture Dr Stephen Rohan. On the case is scratched in the name and address – in Jena - of a possible previous owner.

Teleplast in Optical Museum in Jena

 In the time about 1905 – 1910 (date uncertain) was produced another very rare  version of Teleplast: 4x and 8x magnification and 28 mm diameter objective lenses. This version was probably made for a military contract. It could be a developed from Teleplast version.
The binocular does not have any serial number, but on the body is marked Nr 1. In this way it is difficult to say how many number of this model was produced.  
“M.D.Z. Vergr, 4u 8x” is engrave on its body. The power could be changed from 4 x to 8 x magnification by rotating or revolving the eyepieces around the body lateral axes.
The only specimen known to exist of this binocular is in the Optical Museum in Jena, Germany.

Jena Museum4x 8x 28 teleplast 50% for web


The picture from the article “Fernglas-Rarit├Ąten aus dem Optischen Museum Jena, Teil I”, by Dr Helga Beez, and Dr Hans Seeger – September 1993 (in our collection), page 1; Copyrights picture Dr Hans Seeger

The authors of the above referenced article state that there is no evidence that this unusual model was placed into serial  production.  

We have to mention that except the Teleplast Models with Sprenger-Leman prism, a gunsight fitted with Leman prism was produced for civilian market, around 1910. It looks in a very peculiar way. The shape of this gunsight suggests that it may have been constructed much like one half of a Teleplast binocular.

          Gun Sight-HS book 30% for web          Gun Sight-HS book(2) 30% for web       

                                   Picture 1                                                                           Picture 2
Pictures 1 &2; Gun sight ca 1910 – Optical Museum, Jena (the pictures placed in Dr Hans Seeger new book as well), page 728; Copyrights pictures Dr Hans Seeger

Catalogue 1912-Gun Sight-HS book 30% for web


 The Zeiss catalogue 1912 with the picture of the gun sight fitted on the rifles; the picture depicted in Dr Hans Seeger’s book, page 729

It will be nice to hear from the collectors who have other different features on their Teleplast 3 x or 5 x. 

R.C. Gregory in book: ‘Fine binoculars of the twentieth century’ shortly describes this model as: “This glass is interesting but too rare to make it likely to be encountered”.

Acknowledgments
Thank you for very kind help, by writing this article:

-        Dr Stephen Rohan;
-        Thomas Antoniades;
-        Dr J├╝rgen Laucher

We would like to express gratitude to Dr Hans Seeger for a kind consultation.
 

 

 

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