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Double feathered arrows on the Leica 1A


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Leitz put 'feathered' arrows on the advance and re-wind knobs of Leica 1s for a limited period from late 1926. The majority had three 'feathers' or six if you count each line separately. A limited number had only two (or four) 'feathers' on the advance knob arrow only for some unknown reason. Lars Netopil says that this is a rare variant, and I have only come across three: serial #s  3293, 3520, 3564. Despite these being in the 3000 range Mr Netopil has not come to any conclusion about the serial numbers from the few he has also seen in the past. Angela von Einem tells me that the 'triple feather' arrows were embossed (geprägt) but says the 'double feather' on camera #3520 is engraved. It is indeed much clearer than the usual rather blurred arrows on other cameras.

I wondered if any members have 'double arrow' Leica 1s in their collections, or have come across any. Serial numbers would be very helpful. I have attached a photograph of #3520.

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Leica 1618 has double arrow feather. Leica 5806 (compur) and 5802 have triple feathers. My Mifilca cameras, 3646, 3678 and 3682 have normal unfeatherd arrows. But the microscope cameras were not likely built at the same time as the regular cameras.  I am not aware of a rational purpose for the feathered arrows, but with Leitz strict conformity, it also seems to unlikely be the random result of an over enthusiatic engraver. You might check with Jim Lager as see if he has a theory.

Edited by alan mcfall
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Many thanks Alan. So they start in 1926 it seems and there is no pattern In the numbers as Lars Netopil indicated. I cannot see any logic at all for this! You could understand it if both knobs had the same arrow, as the double engraved arrow is a much clearer design. I will contact Jim Lager as you suggest. 

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8 hours ago, alan mcfall said:

Leica 1618 has double arrow feather

This seems too early. I have 1661 and 1783 and these do not have feathers. I also have 5652 which also does not have feathers. According to von Einem the series with arrows ran from 2400 to 4800 which fits with what I have . Von Einem calls the feathered arrows 'Federfeil'.  According to my poor German translation she says that there is a suspicion that the feathers were based upon a time wheel at the Leitz works. She also says that the feathered arrows and all later arrows were embossed. She refers to something called a 'Prague tool' as being difficult to produce. Perhaps Jerzy who has the von Einem book and has better technical knowledge and German than I have would like to comment.

The embossing stamp would have had the 3 feathers which would explain why the 2 feathers examples might have been engraved. As to why some have 2 and others have 3 , there does not seem to be a rational explanation. I have discussed the large number of such variations in early Leicas with Jim Lager on a number of occasions and we are both in agreement that such variations were common in the early days. I would estimate that such variations continued up until the mid 1930s. Even thereafter there is evidence of existing parts being used in the production of later models than they were originally intended for.

William

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Many thanks William, very helpful. I have written to Jim Lager and await his reply. I have photographs for #2458 and #4747 so presumably at the beginning and end of the sequence.

Despite Lars Netopil's hesitancy in ascribing any sequence to the two feathers version so far the only ones I have actually seen are grouped together and could be from a sequence  3200 to 3600. Hopefully my post may attract a few more!

However see #15828 with feathered arrows attached. This may well be, as you suggest, an old part being used as I have never seen any others with more than four digits. The only explanation I can think of is that as the embossing quality is not consistent (some of the triple arrows are very unclear) Leitz were trying out some alternatives and engraving two feathers was quicker than three!  This doesn't explain why only one knob was done though.

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Does this also have the longer close focus lens pin?  If so, maybe a sign that 1618 had been reworked at a later date, as I don't think "close-focus" was available with the earliest model 1 elmars.

Edited by alan mcfall
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Brilliant, thanks Alan. That seems to belie the #2400 start theory for the feathered arrows and my thoughts about the #3000 series for the double ones! I suppose the knob could have been added later if it went in for a repair, but unlikely I think. The plot thickens......

Also the arrow seems to be embossed, not engraved.

Edited by RichardLeica
Forgot to add a sentence
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22 minutes ago, RichardLeica said:

Brilliant, thanks Alan. That seems to belie the #2400 start theory for the feathered arrows and my thoughts about the #3000 series for the double ones! I suppose the knob could have been added later if it went in for a repair, but unlikely I think. The plot thickens......

Also the arrow seems to be embossed, not engraved.

I think you can take it that Angela von Einem's 2400 to 4800 is more than just a theory and her series designations for the I Model A are generally accepted by the likes of Westlicht/Leitz Auction etc. However, early Leicas have been known to have been altered either by Leica's service dept or by repair persons. The '3000 series', as you call it, could have arisen from something as insignificant as the embossing machine having been unavailable for some reason during a period of production. It might be useful to check with the Leica Archives about the delivery history of 3520, which will include returns to Leica's service department. And do let us know what Jim Lager says. I was going to contact him myself, but did not do so as you had already contacted him.

William

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Thanks William. Let's see how many more turn up! #3520 is mine and I have the factory record. It was delivered to a Swiss dealer and there is no record of any factory servicing or alterations. The arrow on 1618 appears to be embossed, not engraved. I will post Jim Lager's response but it may just remain another Wetzlar mystery!

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I came across another two feather arrow Leica 1 on Worthpoint, serial #3125, so another '3000' one.

Separate photos are poor quality so the arrows can't be checked but I have attached the description page.

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Also, a Compur 1A serial #5788 with triple feathered arrows in a Photographica auction. So well outside the 2400-4800 range, and I can't see any reason why both of these knobs would have been changed from the originals.

 

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1 hour ago, RichardLeica said:

Also, a Compur 1A serial #5788 with triple feathered arrows in a Photographica auction. So well outside the 2400-4800 range, and I can't see any reason why both of these knobs would have been changed from the originals.

The Compurs with numbers from 5701 to 6300 were made from 1926 to 1929. They were in a different number series and sequence to the Elmar models. You are looking for too much 'logical reasoning' over 90 years later and in this case you cannot compare the number sequences of the I Model A and the I Model B.

William

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Sorry, didn't see William's reply. I take your point about the Compurs but 5802 is a normal 1A.

I am just hoping that someone might know of a reason why double feathered arrows were used and might come up with some more serial numbers. So far I have found four (apart from the one illustrated in Jim Lager's book) and they are all 3000 numbers. Perhaps there is a sequence and it would be interesting to find out. 

Edited by RichardLeica
Error with Compur serial numbers
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I can imagine that the workmen making wind-on and rewind knobs were told to put feathers on the arrows, one foreman thought  they were intended to have two feathers and the other thought three. Then other workers assembling the cameras took a handful of knobs out of a bin for the bodies they were working on. Sometime before or later a different bin as filled up with winders without feathers, just depended which bin you picked your winders out of resulted in cameras 80 years later being studied in great detail ! Or were they more organised than that?

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47 minutes ago, Pyrogallol said:

I can imagine that the workmen making wind-on and rewind knobs were told to put feathers on the arrows, one foreman thought  they were intended to have two feathers and the other thought three. Then other workers assembling the cameras took a handful of knobs out of a bin for the bodies they were working on. Sometime before or later a different bin as filled up with winders without feathers, just depended which bin you picked your winders out of resulted in cameras 80 years later being studied in great detail ! Or were they more organised than that?

Or a 'Monday morning Leica'. Lager has acknowledged the existence of such. The are many possibilities. Despite what some may think, aspects of the early Leica production were more similar to a craft business than to a mass production outfit. Don't expect 100% consistency. It is this lack of consistency that makes collecting old Leicas so interesting. If you read the book 'Oskar Barnack - From the Idea to the Leica' you will see that Barnack was constantly reviewing and changing his creations.

William

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I have Leica No.  4298a, and it has triple feathers on both knobs.   We could probably have another thread on the meaning of the small lower case "a" after the serial. Some have said that it represents "patent applied for"(angemeldet) and may have been used on a few early export cameras.  I have never asked to check factory records on this camera. Also reported are single early cameras with a lower case "i" or "L" after the serial. I not seen any theories on their meaning.

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Thanks PyrogalloI, an ingenious thought but I imagine only one worker would have been stamping these as only a few were being made per day, so not much chance of confusion perhaps. The double arrows appear to be embossed as #3293 below (apart from so far, #3520) so a special stamp would have been made for a double arrow at some expense. Why suddenly decide to have a double arrow after making a lot of triple ones? And why are they only on the advance knob? I am thinking that Luigi has a point - maybe they were used to distinguish the two actions of advance and rewind, as perhaps some customer confusion was being reported? Was anything mentioned in an instruction manual? It would be good to have a few more double arrow examples!

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My old girl has been at the local doctors, getting a tighten up, she wasn't running her best.

I've received it back, and find my "arrows" wind, and rewind sides, have no feathers whatsoever, just an "arrow-head, and shaft".

Serial is 21157

Gary

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