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Christian Belousov
Christian Belousov

Kodak Camera Serial Number Lookup [VERIFIED]



Manufacturers commonly use a serial number to uniquely identify a camera lens or body. Knowledge of these numbers may allow the dating of the specific item. This page provides known serial number and date sequences for cameras, lenses and shutters.




Kodak Camera Serial Number Lookup



Camera makers frequently made sure that the serial number of the shutter was out of sight by judiciously orienting the shutter casing. The use of a speculum (dentist's mirror) allows to read the number even if it is facing the camera's folding bed.


Kodak Serial Numbers. Making a definitive statement about serial numbers over the course of Kodak history is difficult. Most print histories of Kodak and most collectors' Web sites omit this information. My experience collecting Kodak models manufactured from the late 1930s to the 1960s is the basis for the comments that follow.


Only the most expensive Kodak models included body serial numbers. Of domestic fixed lens cameras I think only the Medalists included numbers stamped on the film gate. Ektra bodies had serial numbers that matched numbers stamped on the interchangeable film backs manufactured with the bodies, because of the close tolerances required. Many of the cameras manufactured in the Nagelwerke factory, including early Retinas, had serial numbers stamped on the film gate.


Kodak mounted lenses from several manufacturers through the late '30s. Presumably some had their own numbering scheme and others may have accommodated Kodak's wishes in numbering. Early upscale Kodak models had numbered lenses, though I have not seen information about the numbering scheme and my personal collection of 1930s models is not large enough to even hazard a guess about how numbering was structured. My early Anastigmat Ektars have five digit serial numbers.


About 1940, Kodak began creating alphanumeric serial numbers for most of its better lenses--Ektars and Anastigmat Specials (later Anastars) that identified the year of manufacture. This was in the general form 'LLNNN', where the first two letters identified the year and the numbers were the serial number. The following the serial number indicates that the lens was 'Lumenized' or hard coated. (more information) The letters were assigned using a pneumonic-- 'CAMEROSITY' in the U. S. and 'CUMBERLAND' in Great Britain (and perhaps even a different pneumonic in France):


Most serial numbers are stamped on the ring that secures the front lens group and identifies the lens type, length and maximum aperture. The serial numbers for Ektra Ektars are stamped on that part of the the lens barrel that fits into the camera mount.


How were the serial numbers assigned? Sequential by year or sequential by lens model? Given the relatively high serial numbers of some lenses, and that Kodak probably wanted a unique number on each lens, it appears to me that a single annual sequence was used. To have assigned numbers by model, would have produced many duplicate numbers and made public use of these as identifying numbers very confusing. If lens rings were produced in a single shop, they likely would have been produced in batches. Perhaps, if the shop were going to make 50 rings for 80mm WF Ektars, they took the last number used and started their run from that point. If production were more dispersed or done in parallel operations, perhaps they assigned ranges of numbers based on projected production. In the page tracking 1940s serial numbers , note the close proxemity of number in many cases for lenses of the same type and year.


All Hasselblad cameras and film magazines, as well as some other Hasselblad items, bear a two or three letter code in front of, or incorporated into, the serial number. Two of these letters are used to encrypt the year of manufacture.The key to translate these letters to digits is the word VHPICTURES, in which "V" stands for 1, "H" = 2, etc.


Items that do not have a serial number plus date code obviously can not be dated using the system described above.Sometimes dates, coded or even uncoded, appear inside products, scribbled in pencil on the inside of housings, etc. But taking, for instance, a prism finder apart just to look for an indication when the item was produced is perhaps not a very good idea.


Zeiss serial numbers do not contain coded information about when a lens was made. Serial numbers therefor can only be used to date lenses if we have some way to link serial numbers to years. Tables doing just that are compiled by collecting serial numbers of specific lenses together with information about when these lenses were first bought.Such tables, providing the best estimates available, can be found in Richard Nordin's "Hasselblad System Compendium".You can, of course, also type in the serial number of your lens into the tiny utility on the top left hand side of this page.


Items shown: - Detail of rear end of Hasselblad 1600 F camera body, showing date code and serial number. - Detail of Kodak Ektar f/2.8 80 mm lens identification ring, showing Kodak date code. - Hasselblad Winder F mating surface, showing date code and serial number.


As with many of the Folding Pocket cameras, the No 3A Folding Pocket Kodak camera underwent a series of design changes during its production, where the key changes are identified by the model number. The dates for each model are listed below, based upon data in Coe Kodak Cameras [4]; however the date shown for the introduction of the Model B-5 does seem to be correct (see text).


The camera is in very good condition with only minor signs of wear to the leather. The camera is complete with its original box (correct serial number written on the base of the box), a combination back with two DDS (marked for this camera) and the ground glass screen, all in very good order. It also has its original bulb for the shutter.


The camera is complete with its original maroon box (with the serial pencilled in on one face), although one face has separated. I have an instruction book that matches this camera, although it was bought separately.


The data in Coe [4], suggests that based on the serial number that this example of the No 3A FPKshould be a Model B-5, which he states was introduced in April 1909 (continued until 1912 when the Model C was introduced), with effect from serial 147,775. However, this example with serial 200055 is identified quite clearly as a Model B-4, as this model identifier is stamped into the side of one of the wells where the rollfilm is held. Refer to the Notes at the bottom of the page forfurther commentary.


According to Coe, the US models adopted black bellows as standard as of August 1912 / serial 295,000 (approximately). Models imported into the UK made this change earlier, in April 1910. This example is therefore one of the last US versions produced with red bellows. (The camera was bought in the US).


It is my belief that the serial data in Coe relating to the Model B-5 is incorrect and I am also suspicious of the introduction date too as this would mean that the Model B-4 was available for less than a year, which is inconsistent with the fact that it is the model that turns up more frequently than any other. The only examples of models marked as B-5 that Ihave yet come across were found in the UK and all have a consistent serial number pattern,but one that differs completely from that specified in the book.


From the data I have collected to date, the evidence I have suggests that serial numbers ransequentially from the Model B-4 into the Model C, while the B-5 was produced (or at least sold)in the UK and had its own quite distinct serial sequence. The lowest number I have seen to date fora B-5 is 2438 and the highest is 66807. The highest serial I have recorded so far for a model B-4 is264193-A, while the lowest Model C serial is 266821.


Unfortunately, Kodak serial numbers (other than the lens ones using the CAMEROSITY date code scheme) are pretty impossible to crack. They aren't a unique number space, each model of camera has it's own set of serial numbers. There are some cameras (like the 3A folders) where they really make 500,000+ of one basic model.


The original Ektra brochure shows Ektra # 1004. Presumably Ektra serial #'s start at # 1000. Serial numbers, onthe camera, lenses, and backs, are usually preceded by two letters. They are for thelast two digits of the year. The code comes assigning 1-9, 0 #'s to the word CAMEROSITY. Thus a serial number preceded by EC was made in 1941. Camerabacks were calibrated for an individual camera. The camera back will have the serialnumber of the camera it was intended for. Likewise, cameras may show theserial numbers of the backs mated to it, visible on the bottom of the camera casting afteryou remove the camera back.


All of the Kodak Retina cameras from the mid 1930s to the late 1950s were folding cameras with a short self-erecting bellows, lens board, and folding metal door/cover. These folding Kodak Retina cameras are listed below with their respective years of manufacture. While the previous photohistorical literature gave both a pre-war 3-digit "Type" code for each Retina and Retinette model and a post-war 3 digit "Type" code for each Retina or Retinette model, recent research indicates that the term "Type" can only be found for the post-war Retina and Retinette cameras in the contemporary Kodak AG documents. In the pre-war times, a number ( nummer, Nr.) code was used for all Kodak AG cameras, not just the Retina and Retinette models. So, in the interest of historical accuracy, pre-war Retina and Retinette cameras have a "Nr." code and post-war Retina and Retinette cameras have a "Type" code.


The first Retina, Nr. 117, was introduced in late July 1934. The successive model: Nr 118 Retina followed in 1935 with minor modifications to the Nr. 117. The Nr. 119 Retina (I) and the more expensive Nr. 126 Retina (I) follow in 1936. Nr. 117, Nr. 118 and Nr. 119 Retina cameras all had black lacquered top housings, black lacquered body edges and nickel-plated control surfaces. Nr. 126 Retina (I) was the first with a chrome-plated finish to the top housing, chrome-plated top deck below the rewind knob and chrome-plated control surfaces with the body edges being polished aluminum alloy with a clear lacquer coat. Nr. 122 Retina II was introduced in 1936 with a separate coupled rangefinder and viewfinder and at this point, Nr. 119 and Nr. 126 Retina cameras were designated as "Retina I" cameras. The Nr. 122 Retina II had a problematic film advance lever and was replaced in June 1937 by the Nr. 142 Retina II with a return to the knob advance. Nr. 141 Retina I is a chrome finished model with a shutter release on the top body which was introduced in late 1937. Nr. 143 Retina I was the black lacquer/nickel-plated version of the Nr. 141 Retina I introduced in early 1938. The identification of Retina I cameras is based on the finish and configuration of the top housings of each camera and should NOT be based on lens/shutter or serial number, as lenses, shutters and back doors can be easily interchanged by repairman. In 1939 a Nr. 150 Retina IIa was introduced to replace the Nr. 142 Retina II, but it was unrelated to the flash capable Type 016 Retina IIa series of the early 1950s. Also in 1939, the Nr. 148 Retina I and the Nr. 149 Retina I with double exposure prevention are introduced. Late versions of the Type 148 Retina I have a black lacquer finish to the body edges. The last pre-war Retina I is the Nr. 167 Retina I which was manufactured in July 1941 and was for export only. 350c69d7ab


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