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A number of people have been involved in publishing Rolleiflex serial numbers lists. The most extensive and reliable list is by Prochnow. Please see the Books paragraph on the ‘Information for TLR Users’ page. Peter Rongsted did a lot of work linking the camera names used by Prochnow, Parker and Evans. His list is not hosted on the net anymore. The following charts are mainly based on Prochnow’s and Rongsted’s work. Like most serial numbers lists this chart may contain errors and now and then cameras pop up that do not “fit in”. I have re-arranged and updated the original data-base. I added recent information and also deleted data that most probably were incorrect.
The data are grouped by camera line rather than sequential by serial numbers or chronological by production dates. So all E-models (E, E2 and E3) are grouped together although E2 and E3 models were produced concurrent with F-models resulting in higher serial numbers and later production dates.
In the camera industry it is common practise to allocate numbers blocks based on production plans. As a consequence a serial number cannot easily be linked to a specific production day. Sometimes a production run is delayed and another run with higher numbers comes first. The production of the Rolleiflex 2.8 C with Xenotar started earlier than the 2.8 C with Planar although the second one has a block with lower numbers. The delivery of Planars from Oberkochen, may have been delayed. Another exemple is the 3.5 E2 model 2 having higher numbers than the 3.5 E3. Perhaps the second model E2 was a last minute decission to finish the stock of 5 element lenses. The F model had already been adapted to take 6 element lenses and the soon to begin production of the E3 would also use the 6 element Planars and Xenotars. At the end of the day I decided that both sequential by numbers and chronological by production dates would be confusing and I opted to group by camera line: all A’s together, then all B’s, etc.
I receive quite some messages from Rolleiflex owners who write that they have a camera with wrong parts or more often that I am wrong. Usually it is about the taking lens. That is a part that can easily be identified. I already explained that serial numbers were allocated on the basis of production plans, not necessarily on actual production. The numbers themselves are printed on insignificant parts that were mounted or glued on nearly finished cameras. Like all parts the number plates were produced in batches of thousends and I guess the factory did not take the trouble to store them in sequential order. I visited the factory on two occasions. One visit was in 2003 and that day the production of the Rolleiflex FX was on.
- Rollei-Werke, Rollfilmkameras, Prochnow, Claus, Rollei-Report Volume II (twin-lens Rolleiflex and SL66), ISBN 3-89506-118-2, LINDEMANNS (1994)
- Complete Rollei TLR User's Manual, Parker, Ian, ISBN 1-874031-96-7, HOVE FOTO BOOKS LTD (1994)
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