Notes and Assumptions Regarding Argus Camera Dating Guide
Copyright 2004 by Phillip G. Sterritt.
No official production figures survive for Argus cameras. Still, reasonable guesses can be made at least about the year of production of a given camera using either its serial number, features or both.
Neither serial numbers nor features are foolproof methods. In some lines, especially the A and C series, many parts are easily interchangeable between cameras of differing vintages. If one or more features are inconsitent with other features and/or serial number, it may be an altered or composite camera. The serial numbers for model A3, CC, 21, C-4, C-4R, C-44 and C-44R are stamped on or inside the removable back. If a camera doesn't have its original back, its features and serial number may not match.
Some information that came with your camera might be surprisingly unreliable for estimating its date of production. These include:
- Dated sales receipt. Was the camera purchased new or used? Even if purchased new, some stores had much higher sales rates than others, some stores were more conscientious about selling 'first in-first out' than others, etc. One store might sell a camera within a few weeks of its production while another might sell a camera over a year after it was made. If a store got its cameras from a middleman, the gap can be even more pronounced. Imagine the possible spread in a remote Army PX...
- Statement from the original owner or a relative of the original owner. Memories are notoriously unreliable, especially after decades have passed. Many people owned more than one Argus (especially C-3s) in their lifetimes. Children may have heard their late father say that he "carried his C-3 in Europe in WWII", which he did -- meaning his first C-3. His second or third C-3 may be the one in your hands.
- Patent numbers or patent dates on the camera.These often refer to only one feature of the camera that may have been used on that model for many years.
- Dates written inside the camera. These are often put in by repair shops to indicate when they performed service, for warranty purposes.
- Accessories. Cases, lenses, flashes, etc. from one era often fit cameras from another era, even different cameras than they were originally designed for.
Where a table of serial numbers is specified along with bounding dates, a reasonably even rate of production was assumed and ranges apportioned accordingly. Some adjustments to ranges were made based on known date/serial number correlations. Such correlations are few and far between so those tables should be considered rough estimates.
Date ranges for features are approximate, but wherever possible are based on current data from survey results.
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