OK, here's one that's puzzling me...
Does anyone know how to, approximately, determine the age of a Wollensak 6¼" (159mm) f12.5 Anastigmat Extreme W. A.?
I recently purchased an unused 159mm f12.5 Extreme Wide Angle in a Rapax shutter in the original box. Here's the eBay item listing (which will expire in about 90 days once the lens arrives, Ill find a place to post a better picture):
Here's the details:
Wollensak 6¼ (159mm) f12.5 Anastigmat Extreme W.A.
Serial Number 736166
Rapax Synchromatic Shutter
The lens is "Wocoted" as designated by the trademark big "C" surrounding a smaller "W".
There was another 159mm f12.5 Wollensak Extreme Wide Angle that ended earlier today on eBay. Item listing:
That one is in an Alphax shutter, with the following details:
Wollensak 6¼" (159mm) f12.5 Anastigmat Extreme W.A.
Serial No. A84258
In addition to the "Wocoted" symbol, this one also has a yellow dot.
So, anyone have any idea which one is newer? I've always assumed the models in the Rapax shutter were newer as the Rapax was the most advanced shutter Wollensak made. However, a 1954 Wollensak catalog I have offers lenses in both shutter types. The two different serial number styles adds to the confusion. I originally thought perhaps they just used a separate sequence starting with the letter "A" for lenses sold in Alphax shutters. The same 1954 catalog disproves that theory as well - it shows 135mm Raptar on the cover in a Rapax shutter with a serial number A32119. Both styles of serial numbers appear throughout the catalog. Of course, some of the photos could have been old stock shots that were taken years before the catalog was published. If anyone has ANY Wollensak serial number data, that would help put this mystery to bed once and for all. Unfortunately, my own Wollensak literature collection is very sparse and of no value in sorting this out.
In the end, it probably doesn't matter much. I'm just trying to satisfy my own curiosity. Obviously, both samples are coated and made post-WWII - most likely some time between 1946 and 1965. They are probably both equally fine performers (given that both are in outstanding condition). I'm just always trying to find clues to dating these older lenses. In addition to Wollensak serial number data, I'd also love to get my hands on Bausch & Lomb serial number info. I know, around the time of WWII, B&L switched from a purely numeric serial numbering system to one consisting of two letters followed by four numbers. The two letters are likely some sort of code (similar to Kodak's CAMEROSITY) that can be used to date the year of production. For the life of me, I haven't been able to come up with any code word that makes sense. Any ideas?