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Continued discussion of 3.5cm W-Nikkor
Old 03-20-2013   #56
wes loder
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Continued discussion of 3.5cm W-Nikkor

Interesting. What is your source for these early 35mm W-Nikkor lens numbers dates? Were these productions in mounts, or serial numbered optical assemblies? The problem is that NK used serial number prefixes that were date-based, but the date was design-based, not manufacture date. Thus the 612X series would indicate a design approval date or finalization of December 1946. Not bad considering that NK had approved the "final" design for the Nikon camera in September [609X]. But just as camera would not go into "production" for another 18 months, and then only in ones and twos until August 1948, it is possible that the 35mm lens did not see light of day for some time.
The 910XX series that followed, as you note, would indicate October 1949 for design approval. That would match in well with a start of production in March, 1950 and the first lens out the door and on the SCAP lists in April.
So when were the 612X series out and available? Probably not until the spring of 1950 either, because not enough Nikons had been sold to generate a market for the least popular accessory lens—although they might have been sitting around the factory waiting for mounts until then. The 612X series might even have gone out at the same time with the 910X series. Remember, NK's biggest market for its lenses was not its new camera, but the screw-mt. Leica copies.
Or, it is possible that NK just held the 612X lenses in the factory until sales of the camera got going. That does not sound likely, since inventory on hand got heavily taxed.
Bob believes that a third of the first Nikon owners would have bought a 35mm lens. I would disagree. Sales of accessory lenses were always lower than one would imagine. If someone did buy an accessory lens, it was almost always the 135mm first—and that was the first accessory lens that SCAP indicates that NK put into production. Logical. This held true throughout the 35mm era. Only with the opening of the CPO to camera sales in the spring of 1950 were enough Nikons being sold on a continuing basis to support large numbers of accessory lenses.
An additional personal note: When Hans Liholm was in Tokyo in April-May 1950 to negotiate the export contract with NK, Nagaoka gave him a Nikon M with a 50mm f2 lens, an 85 and a 135 and a variable frame finder. Although generous, NK did not give him either a 35 or the new 50mm f1.5. Why? Because they did not have enough of these new optics to afford to give them away?
Where did these first 35mm Nikkors go? Almost all of them went to the CPO. Thanks for keeping up this discussion. WES
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