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Oskar, with a 'C' or a 'K'


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Hello Everyone,

Short intro here. I am Bill Rosauer, LHSA President Emeritus and LHSA Viewfinder Editor since 2000. I hope you all enjoy the Viewfinder and know about our archive where you can see every past issue of the journal as well as other things Leica.

I am asking for your help in an article I am working on for the next Viewfinder. I will be exploring the spelling of Oskar's name, with either a 'C' or a 'K'. I know Barnack's gravetone has it with a 'C', as well as the engraving on the viewfinder of 105. I also know that his son Conrad spelled Oskar with a 'C', but apparently the Leitz company spelled it with a 'K'.

I am asking your help to come up with examples and images of the various spellings of Oskar. It would be great if we could come up with his birth certificate or employment records. Let me know what you can come up with!

This will be a companion piece to the article William Fagan will be writing about the upcoming auction in Wetzlar. He will be focusing on Barnack's Leica Null Series # 105. I am sure you are all aware of the back and forth in the two threads on here about 105. We have certainly covered a lot of territory!

Thanks for your help, and I will give credit to any images used in the article.

 

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6 hours ago, derleicaman said:

Hello Everyone,

Short intro here. I am Bill Rosauer, LHSA President Emeritus and LHSA Viewfinder Editor since 2000. I hope you all enjoy the Viewfinder and know about our archive where you can see every past issue of the journal as well as other things Leica.

I am asking for your help in an article I am working on for the next Viewfinder. I will be exploring the spelling of Oskar's name, with either a 'C' or a 'K'. I know Barnack's gravetone has it with a 'C', as well as the engraving on the viewfinder of 105. I also know that his son Conrad spelled Oskar with a 'C', but apparently the Leitz company spelled it with a 'K'.

I am asking your help to come up with examples and images of the various spellings of Oskar. It would be great if we could come up with his birth certificate or employment records. Let me know what you can come up with!

This will be a companion piece to the article William Fagan will be writing about the upcoming auction in Wetzlar. He will be focusing on Barnack's Leica Null Series # 105. I am sure you are all aware of the back and forth in the two threads on here about 105. We have certainly covered a lot of territory!

Thanks for your help, and I will give credit to any images used in the article.

 

Thanks Bill. I will ask around in Wetzlar while I am there for the next few days. I should be seeing Lars tomorrow and will start by asking him. Somebody has put in a bid for the Conrad Barnack draft book from 1949 which uses 'Oscar' rather than 'Oskar'. 

William 

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8 hours ago, derleicaman said:

Leitz company spelled it with a 'K'.

The company has a lot invested in 'K' with advertising and limited editions so it will be of very academic interest to them. 

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vor 9 Stunden schrieb derleicaman:

... but apparently the Leitz company spelled it with a 'K'.

And they do and did so for a reason. And the reason is that Mr. Barnack's first name is Oskar, not Oscar. This whole question about the spelling of Mr. Barnack's first name is slowly but surely bordering on the absurd and reminds of a former US president who used the term 'alternative facts' for something that just wasn't true (in fact I think it was not the president himself, but his speaker, but anyway). The spelling 'Oscar' has its roots in a single source, namely Oskar's son Conrad (his first name might in fact be spelled Konrad correctly, but I do not know that for sure and am not particularly interested in finding out about it), who for unknown reasons has had a preference for the 'c' spelling, hence the spelling 'Oscar' in his unpublished book and on Oskar's gravestone. 

All other sources, at least in Germany (things may be a bit different in the US, where 'Oskar' may often be spelled 'Oscar'), will indicate 'Oskar' as Mr.Barnack's first name. If I have time, I will try to find some old patent prints (assuming Oskar Barnack was named as an inventor on at least some old Leitz patents), and we'll see how his first name is spelled on those official patent documents.

Cheers,

Andy

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Google 'Oscar and Oskar' and 'Oscar or Oskar' to see various origins ... including a suggestion it's an Irish name.  

Surely the only definitive proof of our Leica inventor's forename spelling is his actual birth certificate ... assuming the 'registrar' spelt the name correctly and in accordance with his parents' wishes?

The argument will likely 'run and run' ... with both 'camps' claiming 'their' "argument" /"alleged  proof" is correct.

 

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47 minutes ago, wizard said:

Just to prove my point, here is a list of 17 patent families (mostly US patents) listing OSKAR BARNACK as inventor in each and every one of them.

 

Barnack_Oskar.pdf 446.75 kB · 3 downloads

All of this is known. He used ‘Oskar’ throughout his official life with Leitz/Leica. What has sparked this is the engraving on No 105 and the use by Conrad Barnack of ‘Oscar’ in various writings about his father. There is also what his family put on his gravestone. This is an interesting topic in itself. There are many examples in history of where famous people have been given a different name within their family circle to what was used publicly. There is no more to it than that and this is not at all absurd. I admire Bill’s tenacity in trying to get to the bottom of this. 
 

William

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vor 9 Minuten schrieb willeica:

All of this is known. He used ‘Oskar’ throughout his official life with Leitz/Leica. What has sparked this is the engraving on No 105 and the use by Conrad Barnack of ‘Oscar’ in various writings about his father. There is also what his family put on his gravestone. This is an interesting topic in itself. There are many examples in history of where famous people have been given a different name within their family circle to what was used publicly.

It is not a different name that we are talking about, just a different spelling of the same name. And I already indicated the reason for that different spelling, namely Conrad's personal preference. Conrad is the one and only person behind all this.

There is an Oskar-Barnack museum (empasis added) at his place of birth in Lynow, and there is a memorial stone in Wetzlar indicating Oskar Barnack as the inventor of the Leica camera. I fail to understand why you seem to have a problem to accept that 'Oskar Barnack' was Mr. Barnack's official name (which he also used exclusively throughout his entire life). His family may have called him 'Otto', 'Wilhelm' (I have no reason to believe that they did so) or any other name, but that does not change his true name. And to say 'Oscar' was the name used in the Barnack family circle is pure speculation. First, the pronounciation of 'Oskar' and 'Oscar' is exactly the same, so you would not note any difference in a verbal communication. Second, to the best of my knowledge it was merely Conrad who used the 'Oscar' spelling. The gravestone does not prove otherwise, as Conrad seems to have been the infuential person here, and his mother and sister likely did not care or at least did not want to force Conrad to use the correct 'Oskar' spelling.

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Thank you, Bill!  I hope you got the image that I sent you of Barnack's business card (with Oskar with a "k").  I also know of a signed personal letter (with a "k") and of Zeiss Ikon's condolence letter to Leitz, dated January 1936 (also spelling Oskar with a "k").

Perhaps in the latter document we might have a clue for why Conrad (surely born Konrad) used a "c" for his own and his father's name, both in correspondence as well as (in all likelihood) his parents' grave marker.  The Zeiss letter ends with the formal "mit deutschem gruss", a phrase which by 1945 was considered stained by its association with Nazism.

My hypothesis would be that, by the time that Emma Barnack died (1946), Conrad made the decision to anglicise his own and his parents' names, perhaps as part of the pride he felt (obvious from his correspondence with Forsyth) in his own English language skills, but perhaps also as a political gesture, turning his back on traditional German formulations.  As William has already pointed out, Conrad spent his time during World War II as a prison orderly, in which capacity he befriended an English POW.  It was perhaps here that he learned English and the language took on important personal connotations for Conrad.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Longest-Way-Round-Chris-Dorley-Brown/dp/0994791909

 

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4 minutes ago, wizard said:

It is not a different name that we are talking about, just a different spelling of the same name. And I already indicated the reason for that different spelling, namely Conrad's personal preference. Conrad is the one and only person behind all this.

There is an Oskar-Barnack museum (empasis added) at his place of birth in Lynow, and there is a memorial stone in Wetzlar indicating Oskar Barnack as the inventor of the Leica camera. I fail to understand why you seem to have a problem to accept that 'Oskar Barnack' was Mr. Barnack's official name (which he also used exclusively throughout his entire life). His family may have called him 'Otto', 'Wilhelm' (I have no reason to believe that they did so) or any other name, but that does not change his true name. And to say 'Oscar' was the name used in the Barnack family circle is pure speculation. First, the pronounciation of 'Oskar' and 'Oscar' is exactly the same, so you would not note any difference in a verbal communication. Second, to the best of my knowledge it was merely Conrad who used the 'Oscar' spelling. The gravestone does not prove otherwise, as Conrad seems to have been the infuential person here, and his mother and sister likely did not care or at least did not want to force Conrad to use the correct 'Oskar' spelling.

This is not a football match, just an interesting piece of historical research about the spelling of a person’s name. Personally, I would be delighted to find that someone had called him Wilhelm, but I doubt if evidence of that will emerge. 
 

William 

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Posted (edited)
vor 3 Minuten schrieb willeica:

This is not a football match

I am not much of a football fan (but do like to watch an interesting game from time to time), and so have never considered this to be any kind of football match anyway.

Edited by wizard
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4 hours ago, willeica said:

I should be seeing Lars tomorrow

Interesting that Lars uses 'Oscar' on his Website. Also see this spelling used in your article in the latest TLS journal. 

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, pedaes said:

Interesting that Lars uses 'Oscar' on his Website. Also see this spelling used in your article in the latest TLS journal. 

Lars is waiting to see my article in the magazine, so we can discuss then. There is no definitive answer on this as it seems that his family used one spelling  (possibly both) and he used another one, certainly for his work for Leitz. Don’t you think that Willi Barnack would have a nice ring to it 😀 ? 
 

William 

Edited by willeica
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I think the only thing that would really add anything significant to this topic would be an example of Oskar himself using the 'Oscar' spelling, if he ever did, perhaps in family or other informal correspondence. Has this sort of material been preserved? If so, he wouldn't be the first famous German to adopt a non-Germanic form of his name on occasion, like Beethoven sometimes styling himself 'Louis' rather than Ludwig.

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vor 25 Minuten schrieb Anbaric:

... like Beethoven sometimes styling himself 'Louis' rather than Ludwig.

Ah, but 'Ludwig van' is so much more distinctive than 'Louis'. Whenever I hear or read 'Louis', I usually think of a French king. In this particular forum, however, I think of a fellow forum member who often posts images of attractive women 🙂.

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1 minute ago, wizard said:

Ah, but 'Ludwig van' is so much more distinctive than 'Louis'. Whenever I hear or read 'Louis', I usually think of a French king. In this particular forum, however, I think of a fellow forum member who often posts images of attractive women 🙂.

There is another big debate about the great jazzman Louis Armstrong as to whether his first name should be pronounced ‘Lewis’ or ‘Louie’.

William 

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Posted (edited)
vor 23 Minuten schrieb willeica:

... as to whether his first name should be pronounced ‘Lewis’ or ‘Louie’.

My vote is for 'Louie', as I have only heard his first name being pronounced that way, but since I do not live in Louis Armstrong's home country, there could be many variables involved 🙂.

Edited by wizard
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Posted (edited)
47 minutes ago, willeica said:

There is another big debate about the great jazzman Louis Armstrong as to whether his first name should be pronounced ‘Lewis’ or ‘Louie’...

Knowing you are very knowledgeable about the jazz scene, William, I'm sure you are more than familiar with the upcoming recording but, personally, I've always thought of him as being 'Louie' primarily due to my having enjoyed this well-known track since my mid-teens.

First word;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9R0ThHOjU0g

OTOH I have other 'duet' recordings where Mr. Armstrong is referred to as 'Lewis'...but for the life of me I can't remember which ones.....

Philip.

Edited by pippy
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