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Thread: Mystery Swiss "Dagor"....

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    749

    Mystery Swiss "Dagor"....

    I placed an ad in the classifieds for a lens about which I can really only speculate because it is quite unusual. It is labelled "Goerz Optical Co. Inc." on the front with a serial number of 2000009. The rear is engraved with "made in Switzerland" and has the same serial number. The focal lengh appears to be 8 1/4 inches and it's a tiny lens (146 grams with the barrel) which covers 8x10. In my tests when I still had one, it appeared to have the same coverage on 8x10 as a labelled 8 1/4 Kern Dagor I owned (covered just fine but not with a huge amount of room for movements). It appeared to be the same construction (obvious Dagor design with the torch test) and the elements appeared to be the same size. However, the barrel wall is a little thicker than the Dagor I owned. The coatings appear identical to the single coated Kern Dagors I am familiar with (the MC 14inch version has a different appearance...) - a gentle amber color.

    There is some speculation that this may be a "process Dagor". It may also be an unlabelled traditional Kern Dagor. The serial number and the Swiss origin suggest the latter very strongly. I have also never seen another "process Dagor" with signs on it that it was manufactured in the Kern factory. All the Kern Dagors I have ever seen (except for the very last run of multicoated 14inch one's which were factory mounted in Compur shutters and followed the Schneider serial numbering of the time - around 14XXXXXX) follow neither the Goerz serial numbers nor the Schneider ones, but have low 2XXXXXX serials which I presume were Kern serials - as does this lens. I have heard that some Trigors were made in Switzerland too - presumably by Kern, but I have never seen one of these - all of the "blue dot" or Trigor labelled lenses I have seen were US made. Also, the coatings I have seen on Trigors have always been a blue color, not the amber color which this lens has. Any ideas on the history of this lens?

  2. #2

    Re: Mystery Swiss "Dagor"....

    Don,

    Your lens may very well be an OEM Dagor made for a third party. Goerz made tons of lenses for other companies - usually process camera manufacturers (Kenro, Argyle, Robertson, etc.). Some were clearly labled as to type and manufacturer, others weren't. Most of the variants aren't as common as the standard Goerz products, but they do exist and cop up on the used market from time to time.

    Also, Swiss-made lenses labeled with the Goerz Optical Co. Inc. name aren't unheard of. When Kollmorgen bought the remaining assets of Goerz Optical Co. Inc. They continued to use the name Goerz and referred to Goerz Optical Co. Inc. as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Kollmorgen Corporation. Over the years, I've seen a number of Swiss-made lenses labeled with the Goerz Optical Co. Inc. name. It seems to be a good bet that these lenses were made by Kern, under contract to Kollmorgen, during the brief period when Goerz Optical Co. Inc. was a wholly owned subsidiary of Kollmorgen. Most of the Swiss-made Goerz lenses I've seen have been Red Dot Artars, but the 14" Trigor I own is clearly labeled Goerz Optical Co. Inc. on the front and "Lens Made in Switzerland" on the rear (more on my 14" Trigor below). I also have photos of two 8 1/4" Swiss-made Goerz Dagors that are labeled made in Switzerland on the rear. While Swiss-made Goerz Dagors (and Artars and Trigors) may not be common, I've seen several over the years. These Swiss-made Goerz Optical Co. Inc. lenses clearly pre-date the Kern-made multicoated 14" f8 Schneider Dagors from the 1980s and are easily identified by the Goerz name and different coatings.

    One other curious twist in the whole Goerz ownership saga is that the Schneider that originally bought the Goerz legacy assets from Kollmorgen in 1972 was the Schneider Coprporation of America, not the German Schneider-Kreuznach company. I have seen several Goerz legacy porducts (mostly Red Dot Artars) that were labeled Goerz Optical Co. Inc. around the front of the lens, but also engraved Schneider Corporation of America on the outside of teh front barrel. These appear to be lenses that had already been built during the Kollmorgen ownership and were part of the sale of the Goerz assets purchased by Schneidr Corporation of America. Sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s, ownership of the Goerz legacy assets seem to have transferred from Schneider Corporation of America to Schneider-Kreuznach in Germany. Lenses made after that time follow the standard Schneider-Kreuznach serial numbering scheme nam matter wehere they were made (this includes the Kern-made 14" f8 multicoated Schneider Dagors and the Schneider APO Artars that remained in production until the eraly 1990s)

    This brings me back to my 14" Trigor. As stated above, it is labeled Goerz Optical Co. Inc. and is definitely made in Switzerland. The serial number, like Don's lens is in the 200xxxx range (although the serial number on mine is over 1200 higher than Don's mystery lens). I also have the top half of the original box my lens came in (matching serial numbers on the box and lens). The box is labeled "Goerz, Optical Company Inc. - a Subsidiary of Kollmorgen" - and below that is a sticker that says "Schneider Corportation of America". So, this one particular lens ties together all for of the companies (Goerz, Kollmorgen, Kern and Schneider Corp. of Anmerica) involved in the production and sales of Goerz lenses during the early early 1970s ownership transition period. Judging by the relatively high serial number of my lens, it appears to have been made late in the Kollmorgen ownership period and was part of the inventory that passed to Schneider Corporation of America during the sale.

    Don's lens, on the other hand has a very low serial number for a Swiss-made Goerz lens. In fact, it is so low, it makes me wonder if this was a test lens or early protoype. At the very least, it is obviously one of the very first Kern-made Goerz lenses to come off the production line. I have seen other "transition" lenses from this time period that have three digit serial numbers - these were most likely "test" lenses and prototypes.

    So a rather long winded rsponse to Don's question, but based on what I know of the Goerz ownership transition from Goerz to Kollmorgen to Schneider Corporation of American, and other lenses I've seen from that time period, I'd guess Don's lens is either a test or prototype lens, or more likely an early Kern-produced OEM version of the Dagor made for a specific customer.

    Kerry

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    749

    Re: Mystery Swiss "Dagor"....

    Wow - thanks Kerry! That's about as much information on the Goerz/Kern/Kollmorgen venture as can possibly exist and thanks for taking the time to detail it all here. It was a lens I was going to have put into a shutter because it seems to be identical to the 8 1/4 I owned optically. However, as you well know, other projects interfere with the best made plans. BTW, have you had time to try out your Trigor on your 7x17 and if so, what are your thoughts?

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    Tonopah, Nevada, USA
    Posts
    6,188

    Re: Mystery Swiss "Dagor"....

    Don, I have 3 non-Dagor Dagor's I use. 8 1/4" Kenro K. 10 3/4" Kenro K2. and Goerz Trigor 14". All are Swiss / Kern and say Goerz. All are in the late aluminum mounts. All produce fine results. I think Steve Hamley has a 9 1/2" like yours and I remember the name Argyle.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep..to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

  5. #5
    Old School Wayne
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Posts
    1,173

    Re: Mystery Swiss "Dagor"....

    My 14" Trigor is # 20014xx (why are we using x's?) and says Goerz Optical Co. Inc on front, and only has the serial # on the rear. I'm thinking of trying to rent it out since I need some cash but will die before parting with it.


    Wayne

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