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Significance of small production batches during 1930's-1960's (anytime really...)

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Hello,

First to clarify and broaden the breadth of this inquiry, I am generally wondering what, if any significance smaller production batches have or reasoning behind such occurrences?  I.e. lack of resources or market demand, gifts for individuals/entities revered by Leica management, contracts at the request of certain 'connected' individuals, etc.?  Second to narrow the scope, my particular question is in regards to a production run of 50 spanning 193451-193500 for the Model IIIa, one of which I inherited from my grandfather several years ago in addition to 10/30/1957 IIIg GOOEL, 1/3700, and the most puzzling quagmire of them all and obviously not applicable, a 'model defying' Canon M39 screwmount from 1949-52(?) that I haven't been able to identify. 

To provide some more context, I have recently found myself in a place where I am 'reconnecting' with my grandfather, roots, knowledge of self, et al. which leads me to this forum where I am hoping to learn more about where he might've purchased them, where they originated from, etc.  I have just heard back from a Leica Technical Advisor from the New Jersey branch who advised me to submit an inquiry to Leica headquarters, in addition to try this forum(!), which I did and am now awaiting response, but if any of you happen to know more specifics I'd be very grateful!  Or if you have any insights into the question generally please feel free to post!  Regardless, if you've read this I thank you for your time!  Also I've attached a more complete album below as oppose to upload only a few:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/N5dSY7NC62MCYvJ37

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About the small batches of a certain Leica model, I think it's no strange considering the manufacturing organization of a rather big concern with an important asset of parts always available, being  most of parts completely built in-house, in a time in which the manufacturing process was still largely manual, with lot of components that were  the same in several models and could be built continuosly, feeding the manufacturing "warehouse"(with the notable exception of the top, which bears the s/n - an adiacent batch to the one you quote was of Leica Standard - all another top) : if you think of those sure facts, and without pretending to scrutiniza in depth the manufacturing/assembly process, in my opinion is rather clear that, on the above reasonable assumptions, it wasn't a problem,  to assemble a rather small batch : I mean that in terms of cost per unit made, the difference between a batch of 50 items and a 300 one was probably negligible (and supposed that the items of a certain batch were made serially, which isn't sure) .

Cameras aren't cars, where H.Ford invention of "assembly line" revolutionized the assembly methodology… a Leica is little, light, and complex : probably the final assembly was performed by a single craftsman on a single workbench, with many of such men working in parallel : the problem is to "feed" any workbench with parts and important sub-assemblies (shutter, VF/RF unit) so that the craftman has always all the parts he needs to assembly a certain model : to feed a single workbench with parts to build  50 items or six workbenches to build 300 items makes no difference in end cost per unit , provided that, behind this phase, there is an organization that can provide the needed parts. 

Anyway… there are so many historicians in the Leica world, that I think that some has written something detailed on the specific topic of "how Leicas were manufactured in the '30s"... B) 

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Serial numbers for certain batches were always and still are today defined in advance of actual production. So if you have a batch of a certain model with a series of numbers this may mean but must not necessarily mean that all cameras with these numbers were produced in a series. Sometimes cameras with certain numbers which were reserved in advance were produced much later and sometimes not at all. So different sizes of batches do not tell you exactly that a certain quantity of cameras (or lenses) were all produced one after the other and do not give exact information about the actual quantity which was produced at a certain time.

Since you asked the Leica archives I hope they will send you a copy of the „production diary“ which shows your number. These diaries show the dates of production (or when it was listed after production), when it was delivered and where to. The entries in the diaries were all hand written and mostly in old german writing which is not always easy to read for someone who is not used to it. So if they send you a copy from a page of the diary it would be interesting to look at it and try to give explanations when you can post it here. 

 

 

 

 

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vor 7 Stunden schrieb UliWer:

.....Since you asked the Leica archives I hope they will send you a copy of the „production diary“ which shows your number. ....

Unfortunately Leica does not send a copy of "production diary" anymore, they respond with the info about the model, shipping date, seldom where the camera was shipped.
It is as well not the production date, rather then it is shipping date, so i call it "shipping record". There could be months, even years between production and shipping (see my other thread in this Forum, "Any IIId owner?").
Similarly, all lists of SN and year published and available in literature and web contain information from delivery records. In 1936 followng models were in production: Standart, II, III, IIIa. While models are different, the major components (film transport, shutter) were indentical to all models. Production was fully manual process, so it was not too complicated to have more models simultanously in production and to adjust quantity of particular model to market demand.
And allow me a comment to your IIIa and associated Elmar 3,5 (243 060 from 1935 , if I am not mistaken)  - lens has been wrongly unscrewed, the nickeled ring which is currently on the camera is part of the lens. In order to correct it you need to remove the longer screw on this ring, place the lens so that distance mark on DOF points to approx 1,7m on the ring and screw in. Lens should lock then at infinity. After mounting the previously removed screw unscrew you may unscrew the whole lens

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Your Canon is a Canon III from the early 1950s. They were a good quality Leica copy and the Canon lenses that came with it should be very good and comparable with Leica equivalents.

As for the small batches, the III and IIIa overlapped in production for a long period. I have IIIa SN 157423 from the second batch in 1935, but there are batches of IIIs on both sides of that batch. Likewise for my other IIIa SN 300573 which is from a batch from 1938 also surrounded by batches of IIIs. At a later stage batches of IIIbs also mingled with batches of IIIs and IIIas. The size of the III and IIIa batches may have reflected the demand at the point in time when the batches were made. As explained by others, the reason for the small batch in this case could be various. The key may be in the dealer to whom the camera was supplied which is usually supplied by the Leica Archives. If it is a regular dealer then the chances are it was just a small batch based on demand. There is usually also an order number, but it is difficult to look behind this. One final thing. Do not expect consistency and chronological exactitude with early Leicas, particularly as regards serial numbers. Even in the early post war years there was a lot of overlap in serial numbers and batches.

Jerzy is, of course, correct about the nickel lens mount. Somebody would have had to have removed the stop pin at 1 O'Clock in order to have unscrewed the lens.

William

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vor 12 Stunden schrieb jerzy:

It is as well not the production date, rather then it is shipping date, so i call it "shipping record". There could be months, even years between production and shipping (see my other thread in this Forum, "Any IIId owner?")

You are right, the diary only showed the dates of delivery. An interesting example is here:

I mixed it up with the very modern stickers on boxes for new items which have the date of packaging (or production).

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I usually regard the 'birth date' of vintage Leicas as being the delivery date. In most cases the delivery date is close to the date which we, as collectors, normally assign to a camera by virtue of model type and serial number. For example, I have II Model Ds which were delivered in 1932 and sharkskin IIIcs which were delivered on various dates in 1949. I have not seen too many cases of cameras which have spent a long time in Wetzlar after manufacture, but I am sure that some exist. I am still wondering about some sharkskin models which were converted to 'f' models, which might have spent a year or two in Wetzlar before conversion, but in every case I have followed up so far it seems that the camera was, in fact, returned to Wetzlar for upgrade.

William

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William, this is as well my belief, that the time between production and shipment was short as a rule, days, weeks. However, for IIId I found strong indication that this was not the case. Few (2-5) production batches between 1939 and 1941 latest and some of them were shipped as late as 45/47. There are few variations of IIId and I hope that analyzing IIIc population (which was a "mass" model in comparison to IIId) will provide more precise arguments to support my hypothesis

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