When was my Argus camera made?

A guide to estimating the date of production of Argus cameras made between 1936 and 1966.

Copyright 2004-2014 by Phillip G. Sterritt. Contributions of Dan Cluley, Mike Reitsma, Curtis Riddick, Brian Waddell, and the Michigan Photographic Historical Society gratefully acknowledged.

Last updated 4/2/2014.

email Phillip G. Sterritt

For pictures of Argus cameras to help in identifying which model you have, Click here.

Establishing dates of manufacture for Argus cameras is an inexact art. Click here to read comments and assumptions about this guide.

This site is not affiliated with any current incarnation of Argus Camera Company.



Cameras by model:



A

1936 - 1941

Serial number: on a label inside above the film rails in the format "No. nnnnnn" where nnnnnn is between 1037 and 211589 with no suffix.

The range 1037 - 211589 is per published information. Survey data so far support that but actual endpoints are unknown.

APPROXIMATE Model A Serial Number Ranges by Year of Manufacture
Begin End Year
1037 50000 1936
50000 90000 1937
90000 130000 1938
130000 160000 1939
160000 190000 1940
190000 211589 1941

Features:

Lens labeling:

Sprocket wheel inside camera:

Rewind knob:

Has Tripod socket:

Camera Index


AA

1941

Serial number: on a label inside above the film rails in the format "No. nnnnnnn AA" where nnnnnnn is between 500000 and 513250.

The range 500000 - 513250 is per published information. Survey data so far support that but actual endpoints are unknown.

Features:

No known variants.

Camera Index


AF

1937 - 1938

Serial number: on a label inside above the film rails in the format "No. nnnnn AF" where nnnnnn is between 5000 (1937) and 70138 (1938).

The range 5000 - 70138 is per published information. Survey data so far support that but actual endpoints are unknown.

Features:

No known variants.

Camera Index


A2B

1939 - 1950

Serial number: on a label inside above the film rails in the format "A2B nnnnnnn". Published ranges are inaccurate. Empirical data suggest nnnnnn is between roughly 50000 and 250000.

Features:

Camera Index


A2F

1939 - 1941

Serial number:on a label inside above the film rails in the format "A2F nnnnn". Published ranges are inaccurate. Empirical data suggests range of nnnnn is approximately 1000 (1939) to 40000 (1941).

Features:

No known variants.

Camera Index


B

1937

Serial number: on a label inside above the film rails in the format "No. nnnn - B". Published information stating range is "shared with model A" is incorrect. Empirical data show nnnn is between 1000 and 1999.

Features:

Too little data on known variants.

Camera Index


FA

1950 - 1951

Serial number: None -- date stamped inside in the bay where the film goes, in format YYMM, where YY is year (50 or 51) and MM is month. Stamped in dark numbers on a black surface so hard to see under the best of conditions.

Observed range: 5000 (?) to 5105

Features:

No known variants.

Camera Index


A3, CC

1940 - 1942

Serial number: stamped on the inside of the back in the format "0nnnnn" where nnnnnn is between 100000 (October 1940) and 140980 (1942). The two cameras share the same set of serial numbers and it's not known if different ranges were used for each of the two cameras.

The range 100000 - 140980 is per published information. Survey data so far support that but actual endpoints are unknown.

Features:

No known variants.

Camera Index


K

1939 - 1940

Serial number:on a label inside above the film rails in the format "No. nnnn K". Published ranges are inaccurate. Empirical data suggests range of nnnnn is approximately 1000 (1939) to 3100+ (1940).

Features:

Too little data on known variants.

Camera Index


M

1939 - 1940

Serial number: on a label inside on side of lens housing in the format "Mnnnnn" (four or five digits). Range approximately M1000 - M13500.

Features:

No known variants.

Camera Index


Camro 28, Minca 28, Delco 828

1947 - 1948?

Serial number: on a label inside on side of lens housing in the format "19- 1nnnnn". Ranges by model overlap; Camros tend to be earliest, Mincas in the middle and Delcos later. Known advertisements: Camro 28: Fall 1947, Minca 28: December 1947. No known documentation of Delco vintage. Estimated range across all models: 19-100000 through 19-150000.

Features:

"No-Name Camros" -- which must include a box with the logo deliberately obscured and the words "NAME OF NATIONALLY KNOWN MAKE DELETED" overprinted to be considered authentic -- are probably early Delcos.

Camera Index


C

1938

Serial number: on a label inside below sprocket wheels in the format "nnnnnC" where nnnnnn is between 1000 and 19077.

The range 1000 - 19077 is per published information. Survey data so far support that but actual endpoints are unknown.

Features:

Camera Index


C-2

1938 - 1942

Serial number: Either:

C-2 label serial number
on a label inside below sprocket wheels in the format "nnnnnC" where nnnnn is between 19078 and roughly 62300

C-2 stamped serial number
stamped inside under the rectangular opening through which you can see the shutter blades, in the format "02nnnnn", where nnnnn is between roughly 62300 and 91945.

Ignore all but the nnnnn.

The range 19078 - 91945 is per published information. Survey data so far support that but actual endpoints are unknown.

Ranges in the following table were adjusted based on comparisons of feature evolution and serial numbers in C-2s and C-3s.

APPROXIMATE Model C-2 Serial Number Ranges by Year of Manufacture
Begin End Year
19078 23000 1938
23000 54000 1939
54000 71000 1940
71000 82000 1941
82000 91945 1942

Features:

Shutter speeds:

Shutter release:

Lens Labeling:

Lens Apertures:

On camera back:

Camera Index


C-3 (prewar)

1939 - 1942

Serial number: Either:

C-3 label serial number
on a label inside below sprocket wheels in the format "C3nnnnn" where nnnnn is between 10001 and roughly 23700

C-3 stamped serial number
stamped inside under the rectangular opening through which you can see the shutter blades, in the format "03nnnnn", where nnnnn is between roughly 23700 and 89000+.

Ignore all but the nnnnn.

Published information that states that the prewar C-3 serial numbers run through 03690326 is not supported by survey data and probably a typo, but 0390326 is a possibility.

APPROXIMATE Model C-3 (prewar) Serial Number Ranges by Year of Manufacture
Begin End Year
10001 17000 1939
17000 43000 1940
43000 69000 1941
69000 90000+ 1942

Features:

Shutter speeds:

On camera back:

Lens Apertures:

Camera Index


C-3 (postwar)

1945 - 1966

Serial number:

1945 - 1957: Stamped inside under the film plane in the format "nnnnn..." where nnnnn is between 0nnnn and 1740000.

The endpoint 1740000 is per published information. Survey data so far support that but actual endpoints are unknown.

The first cameras made when civilian production resumed in 1945 started with 0nnnn and proceeded upward from there to 1740000 in 1957. However, it appears that the first several thousand cameras that would have started from 100000 had the leading '1' omitted from the serial number, so they appear as a five-digit number between 00000 and around 12000.

If your camera has a five-digit serial number between 00000 and 12000 and it has the following set of features, its serial number is probably accurate and the camera was made in 1945 or early 1946:

Early postwar lens labeling silver shutter cocking lever

If your camera has a five-digit serial number between 00000 and 12000 and it has the following set of features, its serial number is probably missing the leading '1' (add 100000 to get the correct number) and the camera was made in late 1946 or early 1947:

Later postwar lens labeling black shutter cocking lever

Thanks to Curtis Riddick for information that helped solve the riddle of the earliest postwar cameras.

Any camera with a coated lens (whether labeled as such or not) was probably made in July 1946 or later.

APPROXIMATE Model C-3 (1945 - 1957) Serial Number Ranges by Year of Manufacture
Begin End Year
00001 100000 1945-1946
100000 225000 1947
225000 350000 1948
350000 475000 1949
475000 600000 1950
600000 720000 1951
720000 845000 1952
845000 960000 1953
960000 1130000 1954
1130000 1400000* 1955
1400000 1570000 1956
1570000 1740000 1957

* there is a large gap between 12nnnnn and 13nnnnn

1958 - 1966: Stamped on the bottom of the camera body as a ten-digit number. For these cameras, the year of production is indicated by the fourth digit of the serial number, 'X' in this example: nnnXnnnnnn. This includes Golden Shield Match-Matics.

EXCEPTIONS TO THIS RULE: Survey data suggest that:



Serial Number 4th digit to year correspondence Standard C-3 and Match-Matic C-3 1958 - 1966
4th Digit Year
8 1958
9 1959
0 1960
1 1961
2 1962
3 1963
4 1964
5 1965
6 1966

Features:

(cameras before ten-digit serial numbers):

Lens coating: Uncoated before July 1946. Some coated lenses are labeled "Coated Cintars", others don't have the "Coated", so look closely.

Shutter speeds:

On the back:

"Argus" badge on front below shutter cocking lever:

Camera Index


21

1947 - 1951

Serial number: Seven- to ten-digit number with leading zeros and occasionally an 'S' prefix. No more than five significant digits. Either:

Published ranges are inaccurate. Empirical data suggest range is between roughly 100 and 65000 (ignoring leading zeros).

APPROXIMATE Model 21 Serial Number Ranges by Year of Manufacture (ignore leading zeros)
Begin End Year
100 13000 1947
13000 26000 1948
26000 39000 1949
39000 52000 1950
52000 65000 1951

Features:

Camera Index


C-4

1951 - 1957

Serial number: Stamped on the bottom, one to four zero prefix. Six significant digits.

Because the bottom is part of the back and is removed completely from the body to load and unload film, backs from one camera will fit another.

The range 230000 - 530000 (ignoring leading zeros) is per published information. Survey data so far support that but actual endpoints are unknown.

APPROXIMATE Model C-4 Serial Number Ranges by Year of Manufacture
Begin End Year
0230000 0240000 1951
0240000 0270000 1952
0270000 0301000 1953
0301000 0370000 1954
0370000 0000430000 1955
0000430000 0000490000 1956
0000490000 0000530000 1957

Features:

Wind Knobs:

Color-Matic markings (red AND yellow markings on aperture scale, rangefinder dial and shutter speed dial):

Flash sync switch:

The elusive black C-4s have been seen with and without serial numbers. Serial numbers and features suggest 1952.

Camera Index


C-4R ("Rapidwind")

1958

Serial number: Stamped on the bottom, "160" prefix.

Because the bottom is part of the back and is removed completely from the body to load and unload film, backs from one camera will fit another.

Camera Index


C-44

1956 - 1957

Serial number: Stamped on the bottom, "00440" prefix.

Because the bottom is part of the back and is removed completely from the body to load and unload film, backs from one camera will fit another.

The range 0044000000 - 0044085000 is per published information. Survey data so far support that but actual endpoints are unknown.

APPROXIMATE Model C-44 Serial Number Ranges by Year of Manufacture
Begin End Year
0044000000 0044042500 1956
0044042500 0044085000 1957

Features:

Two variants of the front logo and film speed indicator exist. The earlier design has the shutter speed indication below the dial and the stylized "lens and prism" logo below the Argus name. The later design has the speed dot above the dial, and no "lens and prism" logo. This change appears around 1/3 of the way through the serial number range.

Camera Index


C-44R ("Rapidwind")

1958 - 1962

Serial number: Stamped on the bottom, "173" prefix. The year of production is indicated by the fourth digit of the serial number, 'X' in this example: nnnXnnnnnn.

Because the bottom is part of the back and is removed completely from the body to load and unload film, backs from one camera will fit another.

Serial Number 4th digit to year correspondence C-44R 1958 - 1962
4th Digit Year
8 1958
9 1959
0 1960
1 1961
2 1962

C-44Rs with highest known serial numbers have "3" as the fourth digit. Generally believed that no C-44Rs were made after 1962, but perhaps there was a batch made up from the remaining parts at the end of production.

Features:

Two distinct body styles were manufactured. The first is essentially identical to the C-44, with the rangefinder housing separate from the rewind knob and a dull painted silver finish to the top housing. The second style has a satin chrome finish to the top housing and the rangefinder housing extends to the edge of the camera so that the rewind knob (while retracted) is flush with the top of the housing.

Camera Index


A-four

1953 - 1956

Serial number: None -- date stamped inside in the bay where the film goes, in format YYMM, where YY is year (53 through 55, no known 56) and MM is month. Stamped in dark numbers on a black surface so hard to see under the best of conditions. Many cameras have no stamp but may have another two-digit number stamped, usually in a circle -- this is probably an inspector's code.

Features:

Three variants in features:

-- Earliest cameras (through January 1954) have:

-- The second group (February 1954 through mid-1955) have:

-- The third group (mid-1955 through 1956) is like the second, but:

Camera Index


C-twenty

1957 - 1959

Serial number: C-twentys have a ten-digit serial number stamped on the bottom. There are two formats: Earlier models begin with '020' (made in 1957 and perhaps 1958), later models begin with '140'. On the latter, the fourth digit tells what year they were made (8 = 1958, 9 = 1959).

Features:

No known variants.

Camera Index


Autronic C3, 35, I and II

Autronic C3: 1960

Autronic 35: 1960 - 62

Autronic I: 1962 - 1964

Autronic II: 1962 - 1965

Serial number: Stamped on the bottom of the camera body as a ten-digit number. For these cameras, the year of production is indicated by the fourth digit of the serial number, 'X' in this example: nnnXnnnnnn.

Serial Number 4th digit to year correspondence Autronics 1960 - 1965
4th Digit Year
0 1960
1 1961
2 1962
3 1963
4 1964
5 1965

Features:

No known variants.

Camera Index


Argoflex E

1940 - 1948

Thanks to Dan Cluley for survey information about the Argoflex E features.

Serial number: Six-digit number, stamped inside on the door, just above the hinge. Because production was split by WWII and precise ending production dates (prewar) and production resumption dates (postwar) are not known, it is very difficult to know where to split the serial numbers for the last prewar and first postwar cameras. Coated lenses begin around 820000 and the general reference for coated lenses beginning at Argus is July 1946.

Published ranges are inaccurate. Empirical data suggest range is between roughly 750000 and 910000+.

APPROXIMATE Argoflex E Serial Number Ranges by Year of Manufacture
Begin End Year
750000 770000 1940
770000 790000 1941
790000 805000 1942
805000 815000 1945
815000 835000 1946
835000 865000 1947
865000 910000+ 1948

Features:

Last cameras made seem to have six-digit serial number starting with 9 and a larger viewing lens. Though the viewing lens is not marked as such, it is the f/3.5 lens intended for the Argoflex II. These are probably leftover parts from that model, being used up on other cameras.

Camera Index


Argoflex EM

1948

Serial number: Ten-digit number, stamped inside on the door, just above the hinge. Often very hard to see. Published ranges are inaccurate.

Features:

On earliest cameras, the raised trim that goes around at the top of the body and runs down the front under the taking lens is chrome. On later cameras it is black.

Some of the earliest cameras have a larger viewing lens. Though the viewing lens is not marked as such, it is the f/3.5 lens intended for the Argoflex II. These are probably leftover parts from that model, being used up on other cameras.

Camera Index


Argoflex EF

1948 - 1951

Serial number: Ten-digit number, stamped inside on the door, just above the hinge. Often very hard to see. Published ranges are inaccurate.

Features:

No known variants.

Camera Index


Model Argoflex / Argoflex 40 / Argus 40

1950 - 1954

Serial number: None -- some cameras have date stamped inside in the bay where the film goes, in format YYMM, where YY is year and MM is month.

Features:

There are two locations where these cameras are identified. One is on the metal trim plate on the top front of the camera, and the other is engraving found around the viewing lens. The earliest cameras, known as the "Model Argoflex", have no logo on either the trim plate or around the lens. These are relatively rare. Next, the name "Argoflex" appeared on the trim plate as well as on the trim around the lens. These seem to have been followed in short order by cameras with "Argoflex" on the trim plate and "Forty" on the lens trim, which lasted a few years until "Argus" replaced "Argoflex" on the trim plate. Variations exist within these combinations, however, so currently the metal trim plate is the most helpful feature.

Logo on top of metal front trim plate:

Camera Index


Argoflex 75 / Argus 75

1949 - 1964

Serial number: None -- some cameras date stamped inside in the bay where the film goes, in format YYMM, where YY is year and MM is month. Others have full date like "November 10 1960".

Survey results indicate the logo on the top of the front plate of the similar Argoflex 40 changed from "Argoflex" to "Argus" around 1953. Since the 75 was in production at the same time, it's reasonable to conclude that its logo also changed from "Argoflex" to "Argus" at the same time.

Features:

Logo above viewing lens:

Body color:

Camera Index


Argus Super 75

1954 - 1958

Serial number: None.

Features:

No known variants, except cameras labeled 'For School Use' are 1955 or later.

Camera Index