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Thomas R. Dallmeyer

Born in Hampstead, England in May 1859, Thomas Rudolphus Dallmeyer was the second son of famed optician and lensmaker John Henry Dallmeyer and Hannah Ross Dallmeyer. His grandfather was the celebrated British optician Andrew Ross. After completing his studies at London's King's College, Mr. Dallmeyer began working as a grinder at his father's lens factory. As John Henry Dallmeyer's health precipitously declined during the early 1880s, his eldest surviving son assumed control of his father's business. In 1886, he married Fanny Julia Thomas, and they became the parents of two daughters, born in 1887 and 1889.

Throughout his impressive career, Mr. Dallmeyer designed several types of photographic lenses with his specialty area being telephotography. He is credited with developing the first telephoto lens, which he patented in 1891. His encyclopedic knowledge and ability to explain the telephoto image processes to the layperson is readily apparent in his treatise, simply titled Telephotography. Mr. Dallmeyer collaborated with J. S. Bergheim to develop an uncorrected lens for soft-focus photography. For his contributions, particularly in the field of telephotography, the Royal Photographic Society awarded him the prestigious Progress Medal in 1896.

Mr. Dallmeyer also invented several cinematography lenses as well as two types of landscape lenses, the rectilinear and a rapid triple cemented lens. Despite his success in the field of color photography, Mr. Dallmeyer fell short of achieving his goal of inventing a single exposure three-color camera. When Paul Rudolph designed the superior anastigmat lenses for the Zeiss Company of Germany in 1889, Mr. Dallmayer commissioned the Stigmatic design. These lenses were first introduced in 1896, and continued to be manufactured until the 1920s.

Becoming a member of Great Britain's Photographic Society in 1886, Mr. Dallmeyer served as Council member and Vice President before being named its President in 1900. Although Mr. Dallmeyer was a natural choice for the Society's presidency, his woeful lack of diplomacy placed his leadership under constant attack by a growing and quite vocal opposition. He stepped down in 1902, but continued indulging in his passion for telephotography. Never content to rest on his professional laurels, Mr. Dallmeyer doggedly perfected its lens techniques until the end of his life. After a brief illness, 47-year-old Thomas Rudolphus Dallmeyer died on December 25, 1906.

Ref:
1886 Anthony's Photographic Bulletin, Vol. XVII (New York: E. & H. T. Anthony & Co.), p. 124.
1907 British Journal of Photography, Vol. 54, No. 2435, pp. 10-11.
2008 Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, Vol. I (New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group LLC), p. 376.
1989 A History of the Photographic Lens (San Diego: Academic Press), p. 223.


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