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A department started only four years ago had sales totalling £530,000 last year.

The firm's first stand-alone Photographica sale was held on November 21 - close to 800 lots with a pre-sale estimate of £92,000 that realised £152,000. Alongside an established market for Leicas, the most buoyant area is the esoteric area of camera lenses - some bought for display, but many for use with modern digital still and video cameras.

The two best-selling lenses in this sale were both by Dallmeyer, although made half a century apart.

Sold at £2700 was a 16in Edwardian lacquered brass lens designed for taking the cabinet portrait.

The history of the soft focus lens really began with the Anglo-German optician John Henry Dallmeyer (1830-83) whose firm perfected the technology of lens manipulation for pictorial effect.

By the turn of the 20th century Dallmeyer were advertising four different models for portrait photographs supplied in lacquered brass or black aluminium. This example, inscribed with the serial number 71469 and the model number 3A, was in good condition with the elements graded VG-E.

Dallmeyer's Super-Six

Although less obviously part of photographic history, the Dallmeyer Super-Six Anastigmat lens - so-called because it is formed of its six elements positioned in four groups - is considered something of a period classic, in production in different sizes and variants from roughly 1930-80.

Some examples can sell into five-figures and at Special Auction Services a Super-Six 1½in lens with the serial no. 524588 quadrupled hopes at £3200.

Also pictured here is an example of the first full-scale production 35mm camera, the Homeos stereo camera, produced by the Parisian instrument maker Jules Richard (1848-1930) in 1913 and sold until 1920.

A Type 2 version with the serial number 153, it was in reasonable condition, with matching stereoscopic mahogany viewer and the maker's case, although the shutter was not currently working. It sold at £1500.

The buyer's premium was 15%.