Summicron 50mm F2 Serial Numbers
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Soon after I began collecting Clarus cameras with abandon, I noticed thattheir serial numbers spanned a large range, too large, I thought, to accountfor the number of cameras manufactured. Serial numbers inmy collection range from a low of 7398 to a high of 494242.
As I learned more about the chronology of MS-35 design changes, I realizedthat the highest serial numbers actually belonged to the earliest group ofcameras. Perhaps I should have seen this earlier, but eventually I noticedthat on six digit cameras, the body and lens serial numbers matched! Itdawned on me that in the beginning, Clarus assigned Wollensak's lens serialnumbers to their cameras. Wollensak was the manufacturer of Claruslenses.
My ultimate goal is todevelop a chronology of Clarus design changes. As I've added more camerasto the collection certain patterns are starting toemerge. What was not at first obvious, but now seems so, is Clarus used atleast three different sequences of serial numbers for the MS-35 camera.
A table of Clarus serial numbers appears below. You'll notice the camerashave identifiers e.g. A1, A2, etc. The identifiers were assigned arbitrarily. Camera identifiers beginning with theletter K belong to other collectors who have generously offered assistance withthis research project. Identifiers with the letter A are in mycollection.
In-depth information on Clarus cameras is sparse. This can be explainedin part bythe fact they were manufactured for only six years, and also because Clarushas not attracted a large following of collectors. Certainly a largersampling of cameras would be helpful. Yet even this small group of camerasreveals interesting information. Organizing Clarus serial numbers intothree or four groups brings some sense of order to chaos.
As with all things Clarus, the deeper one looks, the greater themystery. As I compared the cameras in my collection I thought it would bea sure bet to say that when Clarus introduced a new lens mount, it initiated Bprefix serial numbers. Not true. Back to the drawing board. I've now learned there are B prefix cameras with the old mount, and that newmount cameras without B prefix serial numbers exist. Now I'm really curiouswhy Clarus created the B series of serial numbers. Perhaps the reason wasnot related to design change at all, but driven by marketing or salesconsiderations.
Cameras with B prefix serial numbers are a nearly homogenous group. Camerasin this group may be the final MS-35 design, produced until Clarusceased operations in the summer of 1952. If so, its production life mayhave spanned fouryears. This was the most reliable MS-35 design. The variationsdiscovered thus far among group 1 cameras are minor and mainly cosmetic.
This group is earlier than group 1. There are more interesting variations in this groupthan in group1, although this is not apparent in the tableabove. To-date this group comprises serial numbers of four and five digits. I amnot aware of serial numbers with less than four digits.
As my Clarus collection grew and I compared group 3 cameras to the others,I came to think of this group as paradoxical. Obviously these camerasexhibited early features, yet their serial numbers were hundreds of thousandshigher than late MS-35 cameras. Now I know that these cameras were assignedserial numbers of their fitted Wollensak lenses. Later, Clarusdiscontinued this practice, and body serial numbers started to make a little moresense.
An interesting six digit serial number variation is camera K28 with serialnumber 726070. This camera has a new style lens mount and sheet metalaccessory shoe. It is obviously a late design. As this researchcontinues and similar cameras are found, it would make sense to breakout anotherserial number category that separates earliest from later designs. But itis too soon to make the assumption that cameras in the four and five hundredthousands are all early and serial numbers in the seven hundred thousandsrepresent later designs. An obvious question arises - are there serialnumbers in the six hundred thousand range?
I'm not sure that anything Clarus did would surprise me, but I can't imagine thatserial numbers were intentionally left off these cameras. The reason t