My fancy for lenses are age-old. Whenever I visited my grandfather's 'lawyer office', I would open the draw and pick up the big lens with a long handle and see through it. I enjoyed looking at the magnified images as I focused on the documents on his desk. He would say 'Careful, careful'. It was a very wide and beautiful glass, heavy for my little hand. When he died, we went to see his draw for taking back the things that belonged to him. But we were disappointed to see only papers. Someone in the office had taken away the pens, ruler, eraser and that lens I had dreamed of taking it home.
When I was about 12 or 13, I had pestered and bought a toy film projector for a huge sum of twenty five rupees. In this toy, there were three lenses - double convex. I resisted the temptation for a long time with great difficulty, of breaking it open to 'have them'! I'll write more about it in another post.
There were cheap quality low power lenses available for less than one rupee and came with a plastic handle that would soon break. They were of no real use but came in handy for making my telescope later, which I have already blo/bragged.
My neighbourhood friend Shankar had a beautiful vintage pocket magnifying lens,which was foldable, as the name suggests. It was very similar to this:
Shankar used to bring it in his pocket for playing with it mostly in the summer vacation. We would focus the sun on a dry leaf or a match stick head and even a piece of paper to watch it smoke and catch fire. This burning prank was played on a friend's skin and chose a time when he was engrossed in a chat. Boys used to do it unnoticed by the sufferer. It was great fun for the onlookers who would not alert the innocent victim who would wriggle the hand in a reflex action and rubbed that scorched part!
By the time I saw Shankar's lens, my projector was lying idle and I was no longer projecting movies [!!]. So it was time to fulfill the temptation of removing the lenses, because I wanted to make one such for myself. What beautiful lenses they are!
I knew all the materials required for this little project was with me. The most important part was the grooved rim to hold the lens. I found this from my father's magnifying glass having a plastic handle which was cracked. Its lens was loose and had come out. Now it had mixed up with the ones I removed from the projector. All were very identical in diameter and focal lengths! So in the end, I do not know which one I used.
My project required leather and I found my grandfather's 'used-less' card wallet which suited perfectly! The sewing machine is such a useful thing to have at home! The cover was ready now! To fit the lens, I had bent the rim around a little screw which was I think was an electrical part.
I still use this and keep it handy in the desk draw.