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Nikon Historical Society -- hosted by the founding member Bob Rotoloni and members of the society. The NHS, based the US, has a worldwide membership. Our "Nikon Journal," published four times a year, concentrates on the history of Japanese photo equipment from the perspective of the Nikon Camera Company. The Nikon Journal often includes Nikon information not published anywhere else in the world. This forum provides an opportunity for conversation between collectors and users of classic film Nikons. See forum “stickies” for more information about the Society. If you are a serious Nikon Collector, you MUST be a NHS member. Join at http://www.nikonhistoricalsociety.com/!

View Poll Results: Vote for Your Pick for the Rarest Nikon Nikkor Rangefinder Lens!
21/4 2 3.64%
35/1.8 Black Rim 3 5.45%
35/3.5 #612 Series 2 3.64%
35 Stereo 11 20.00%
50/3.5 (not micro lens) 3 5.45%
50/2 All Black 3 5.45%
50/1.4 Aluminum 4 7.27%
85/2 #811 Series 1 1.82%
135/4 #611 Series 1 1.82%
500/5 0 0%
1000/6.3 Black 8 14.55%
1000/6.3 Grey 17 30.91%
Voters: 55. You may not vote on this poll

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What is the Rarest Nikon Rangefinder Lens?
Old 08-10-2007   #1
CameraQuest
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What is the Rarest Nikon Rangefinder Lens?

Do You Know what the rarest Nikon Rangefinder Lens is?

Bob Rotoloni does, he has been collecting Nikon data for decades. Bob is the President and founder of the Nikon Historical Society. IF Nikon history and collecting is interesting to you, you really should join NHS. The next meeting is in Vancouver, April 2008. The NHS Quarterly Journal offers Nikon information simply not available elsewhere!

Bob has kindly supplied me with the list of the 12 rarest Nikon production Rangefinder lenses.

Vote in the poll for the one you think is the rarest.

Results 9/10/2007

Have Fun!

Stephen
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Old 08-10-2007   #2
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...and I thought 50/1.1 is one of the rarer ones!

Grey sounds rare.
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Old 08-10-2007   #3
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Utterly no clue so I'll vote aluminum as a "just because" kind of thing. It'll be fun to learn just what is the rarest.

William
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Old 08-10-2007   #4
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is the 35/1.2 nokton in s mount rarer than any of these?
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Old 08-10-2007   #5
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got to be the 35mm f3.5 Stereo-Nikkor....only 170 made...a
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Old 08-11-2007   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zen-shooter
We're talking about S-mount only, right?
Anyway I voted for the 50/3.5
yes, production Nikon S mount Nikkor lenses.

Stephen
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Old 08-11-2007   #7
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35/3.5 #612 for sure.
They don't call them "prototype" lenses for nothing
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Old 08-11-2007   #8
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Here is a hint folks,
Every lens in the list above is believed to have production of less than 200 examples other than the big guns...those are the REAL rare ones.
The poll is tricky but at the same time revealing!
Why are there two types of 1000 f6.3s listed?
Ahaaa....question is which one?

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Old 08-11-2007   #9
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1000/6.3 Black

Total of 3-ish produced in RF mount?

HL
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Old 08-11-2007   #10
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I voted for the stereo lens, but it is rare and not "rarest". Maybe the 1000mm lens is the one?
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Old 08-16-2007   #11
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I voted for the 35mm 1.8 black rim, since no one else had.
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Old 08-16-2007   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeL
I voted for the 35mm 1.8 black rim, since no one else had.
That's a good criterion

On the black 1000/6.3 Stephen writes that "total 1000/6.3 production in Nikon Rangefinder mount was about 50 units. The first lens was number 100630. The last reported lens is # 100680. Total production in F mount was about 60 units. The first F mount lens was 631000 and the last reported lens is # 631056. The first three or so 1000/6.3's in NRF mount were all black. Production then shifted to a light gray crinkle paint." So at three or so it should be pretty rare already.

However, assuming that the answer to this poll can not be found trivially by browsing the web page of the site owner, one of the other lenses here is probably made in a number of "two or so".

(Incidentally, at this point it becomes a bit absurd to speak about rare lenses. I have an ultra-rare Industar 61 with a non-standard set screw fitted by me when CLAing the lens. Total number of lenses in existence is one. Anyone wants to pay me a five-digit sum for the lens?)

Philipp
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NEW Research not found Elsewhere
Old 08-17-2007   #13
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NEW Research not found Elsewhere

Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd
That's a good criterion


However, assuming that the answer to this poll can not be found trivially by browsing the web page of the site owner, one of the other lenses here is probably made in a number of "two or so".

Philipp
Actually, so far as I know, the answer can be found NO place on the net or in ANY published writings.

Remember this is Bob Rotoloni's latest info after decades of study. It has not been published before. That is why the header of this forum includes the copyright info and the no copying and posting elsewhere warning. The results of his work will be shared here with Bob's copyright, not mine or RFF's.

My CameraQuest articles are not as accurate as Bob's more intensive research.

As a fairly rabid Nikon Rangefinder collector, I am personally facinated that even some of the most popular collectible NRF Nikkors aren't rare enough to make this "rarest dozen" list -- lenses like the 25/4, 50/1.1, 50/1.5, 50 Micro, 85/1.5, 105/4 and 180/2.5.

Stephen
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Old 08-17-2007   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd
That's a good criterion



(Incidentally, at this point it becomes a bit absurd to speak about rare lenses. I have an ultra-rare Industar 61 with a non-standard set screw fitted by me when CLAing the lens. Total number of lenses in existence is one. Anyone wants to pay me a five-digit sum for the lens?)

Philipp
Yeah, I agree.
I have a few pretty rare lenses because they have scratches and dents only I can make.
For a few hundred bucks I can make your lens also very rare if you like.
Just sent it over.
Please go out and shoot your rare lenses instead of guessing :-)

Cheers,

Michiel Fokkema
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Old 08-17-2007   #15
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So I'm putting money down that it's one of the 35/3.5, 85/2, or 135/4 #ed series.
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Old 08-18-2007   #16
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A philosophical point: If a lens was made only in an edition of one... two... or even three units, does it really qualify as a "production" lens?

Any well-equipped optical house would be able to make one-off or a small batch of lenses for any weird purpose or other. But such mutant lenses wouldn't really tell us anything about the company's optical philosophy or the photographic spirit of the times in which they were sold -- which is what makes collecting an activity of legitimate scholarly interest, right?

So, even though I'm looking forward to the answer to this question, I tend to be less interested in which lenses are rare and more interested in why they are rare.

Is it scarce simply because somebody mis-engraved a batch of serial numbers? That's amusing but hardly tells us anything except "sh*t happens," which we already knew. Same for a lens that's unusual because the company tried two different paint suppliers and one kind of paint dried a little more glossy than the other. That can be a pleasant reminder of bygone days when lens crafting was more of a cottage industry, but it doesn't seem very significant.

On the other hand, the stereo Nikkor is reputedly rare in part because Nikon overestimated public interest in stereo photography, and in part because (or so I read in the first Rotoloni book) they had to smash the unsold lenses to avoid having to pay tax on the inventory! Now that's both a striking mental picture and an interesting insight into corporate practices and laws of the time.

So, is the 1000/6.3 (for example) rare because Nikon screwed up and thought an unwieldy and very expensive tele lens was going to be of interest to a lot more people than it actually was? Or is it rare simply because some big customer wanted a small number of units and was willing to pay through the nose for them?

So, when Robert R. reveals the answer to this quiz, I hope he'll also reveal "the story behind the story..."
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Old 08-18-2007   #17
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Rigid 5cm/f2.0, serial #53422?

One example known?

HL
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Old 08-18-2007   #18
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I am sure the 25mm f/4 nikkor is one of them-

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Old 08-18-2007   #19
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25 f/4 Nikkor production numbers, from CQ:

* Chrome Nikon RF mount - approximately 1000
* Black Nikon RF mount - approximately 1500
* Chrome Leica Screw mount - unknown production, but probably only a few hundred, if that

I'll say that puts the 25/4 square out of the running.
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All Black 50's for Black Bodies
Old 08-19-2007   #20
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All Black 50's for Black Bodies

the lens on the far right, 763100 is just a standard black 50/2 with the chrome filter ring unscrewed. I've seen it done at camera shows to get a few more bucks from the unsuspecting. It takes about 30 seconds to remove the chrome filter ring.

My take on the real all black 50/2's is that they were produced to match the black cameras. Since most buyers (99%??) choose the 50/1.4 with their new back Nikon, making the all black 50/2 rare due to few orders.

Whether people ordering black bodies had to specify all black 50/1.4's and 50/2's with their black body, or something done automatically by the factory, I am not sure. But I suspect the latter, only because so few black S2's were ordered that most dealers simply would not have known to specify an all black 50 on the order.

On the two all black 50/2 that I found, the owners of the black S2's gave no special notice or value to their all black 50/2's. And I did not realize at the time they were any rarer than the black bodies. So in my mind at least, I am 100% sure these were not altered lenses, and that they left the factory on those black S2's. This would account for the random numbering, as the lenses were presumably made one at a time to fill a black body order.

Stephen
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Old 08-20-2007   #21
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Rumor has it that some folks in BedSty are trying to make fake 1000/6.3 but in gang colors! I miss the Ave N stop on the F.

B2 (;->
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Old 08-29-2007   #22
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After reading last night Bob Rotoloni's Nikon Rangefinder Camera -book, I'll vote "1000/6.3 Black".
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Old 08-30-2007   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsuominen
After reading last night Bob Rotoloni's Nikon Rangefinder Camera -book, I'll vote "1000/6.3 Black".
Don't just go along because "the man" says so. Oh wait, he is The Man. Uh, good choice, yah.
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Old 08-30-2007   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeL
Don't just go along because "the man" says so. Oh wait, he is The Man. Uh, good choice, yah.
yes, he is.
but a lot of info has been gathered since that book was published.

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Old 09-10-2007   #25
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only 11 out of 55 voters got got either of the two reported rarest lenses correct.
that is because the rarest reported lens to Bob is usually not considered all that rare -- in error.

more later in the day.

Stephen
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Old 09-10-2007   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CameraQuest
only 11 out of 55 voters got got either of the two reported rarest lenses correct.
that is because the rarest reported lens to Bob is usually not considered all that rare -- in error.

more later in the day.

Stephen
So that means the two rarest Nikon lenses are the 1000/6.3 (black) and either the 50/3.5 (non-micro) or the 35/1.8 (black rim).

So which one is it?
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The 15th, 14th, and 13th Rarest NRF Lenses Are
Old 09-10-2007   #27
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The 15th, 14th, and 13th Rarest NRF Lenses Are

# 15 50/1.4 All Black for Nikon RF Black bodies 700 to 800 lenses

# 14 350/4.5 429 lenses

# 13 50/1.5 389 lenses in NRF mount


Due to David Douglas Duncan, the 50/1.5 is arguably the most important lens Nikon ever produced. Without DDD, would Nikon have survived the occupation era?

Stephen

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Old 09-10-2007   #28
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Why the 50/1.5 and not the 85/2?

B2 (;->
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The 12th, 11th, and 10th Rarest Nikon Rangefinder Lenses Are:
Old 09-10-2007   #29
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The 12th, 11th, and 10th Rarest Nikon Rangefinder Lenses Are:

# 12 50/1.4 Aluminum 300 Aprorx

# 11 85/2 801 Series, 300 Aprox

# 10 21/4 298 per factory


Stephen

Copyright Robert Rotoloni, 2007, all rights reserved "The 15 Rarest Nikon Rangefinder Lenses"









Copyright Robert Rotoloni, 2007, all rights reserved "The 15 Rarest Nikon Rangefinder Lenses"
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Old 09-10-2007   #30
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I thought it was the picture taken with the 85/2 that turned his head towards Nikon in the first place. Yes, after the 105 came out I woiuld bet that everyone dropped the 85 like a hot potato.

B2 (;->
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The 9th, 8th, 7th, 6th Rarest Nikon Rangefinder Lenses Are:
Old 09-10-2007   #31
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The 9th, 8th, 7th, 6th Rarest Nikon Rangefinder Lenses Are:

The 9th, 8th, 7th, 6th Rarest Nikon Rangefinder Lenses Are:

# 9 135/4 MIOJ 611 series for Nikon One 230/250 Aprox

# 8 500/5 157 in Nikon mount per factory

# 7 35/3.5 Sereo 146 or 176

# 6 35/3.5 MIOJ 612 series for Nikon One series 125 Aprox


Stephen

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The 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and Rarest Nikon Rangefinder Lenses Are:
Old 09-11-2007   #32
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The 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and Rarest Nikon Rangefinder Lenses Are:

The 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and Rarest Nikon Rangefinder Lenses Are:

# 5 50/3.5 MIOJ for Nikon One Aprox 100

# 4 35/1.8 Black Rim, aprox 75

# 3 1000/6.3 Grey "38 possibly, factory says 48 total 1000/6.3 production"

# 2 1000/6.3 Black "10 possibly"

# 1 50/2 All Black "5 or 6 verified"

The black 1000/6.3 is so rare most collectors have never heard of it, much less seen one. Very few have seen a grey 1000/6.3 in NRF mount either.

The all black 50/2 is quite a surprise. Most collectors have no idea so few are verified by Bob as being original. More will likely be reported now, probably making the black 1000/6.3 into the number one position as the rarest Nikon RF lens.

I believe the all black 50/2 were made to order to match black Nikon S2's. I have found two of them on black S2's. Presumably most people who paid extra for a black body also paid extra for the 1.4.

Stephen

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Old 09-13-2007   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CameraQuest
only 11 out of 55 voters got got either of the two reported rarest lenses correct.
What would be the prize for the 'winners'? Bob's new book, after it has been published or 1000/6.3 Black?
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Old 09-14-2007   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsuominen
What would be the prize for the 'winners'? Bob's new book, after it has been published or 1000/6.3 Black?

How about one of those new Nikon SP sets?



HL
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Old 09-14-2007   #35
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How many Nikkor S F1.5 50mm in LTM were ever made?



Too bad they are so rare, I`d love to see what the photo results would be mated up with a really good Leica IIIC

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Old 09-15-2007   #36
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Very interesting thread to read!
/jon
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Old 09-17-2007   #37
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Quote:
Why the 50/1.5 and not the 85/2?
The 85/2 led Duncan to discover Nikkor lenses. However, he did nearly all of his shooting with 50mm lenses. He spent the first several months of the Korean War shooting for LIFE with a 50/1.5. He then switched to the new 50/1.4 in time to shoot the November-December 1950 retreat. In his landmark book "This is War!" the first two sections of photographs were taken with the 50/1.5. The final section was shot with the 50/1.4. His text says only one published book photo was shot with a non-50, a close-up portrait of a Chinese soldier shot with a 135mm Nikon.

In my version of "This is War!" there's no visible quality difference between the 50/1.5 and the 50/1.4.
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Old 09-28-2007   #38
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As I pointed out in my talk in 2006, and in my forthcoming book, NK did not start to sell the 35mm f3.5 until the spring of 1950. No 35mm lens was sold with the Nikon I. There was an initial series with the aperture ring reversed that was apparently a first run, and is quite rare, but it was not available in either 1948 or 1949. A few variframe finders were sold for the Nikon I, and these do have a marking for the 35, but that was in anticipation of production.

I remain curious about Stephen's 157 number for the 500 f5, since I have records of serial numbers from 021 through 272. Where is the gap or gaps? Thanks, WES
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Old 09-28-2007   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wes loder
As I pointed out in my talk in 2006, and in my forthcoming book, NK did not start to sell the 35mm f3.5 until the spring of 1950. No 35mm lens was sold with the Nikon I. There was an initial series with the aperture ring reversed that was apparently a first run, and is quite rare, but it was not available in either 1948 or 1949. A few variframe finders were sold for the Nikon I, and these do have a marking for the 35, but that was in anticipation of production.

I remain curious about Stephen's 157 number for the 500 f5, since I have records of serial numbers from 021 through 272. Where is the gap or gaps? Thanks, WES
Hi Wes,

the figures came from Bob Rotoloni.

I know from private emails that neither Bob or I agree with your take the 35/3.5 production did not start with the Nikon One.

Please explain how you came to that conclusion, and whether or not any Nippon Kogaku employees of the time agree with you.

Thanks
Stephen
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Old 09-29-2007   #40
NIKON KIU
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CameraQuest
Hi Wes,

the figures came from Bob Rotoloni.

I know from private emails that neither Bob or I agree with your take the 35/3.5 production did not start with the Nikon One.

Please explain how you came to that conclusion, and whether or not any Nippon Kogaku employees of the time agree with you.

Thanks
Stephen
I believe Wes reviewed the records of the Occupation forces

I guess those COULD be wrong

Kiu
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