Saturday, 23 September 2017

More on the Focomat,European and US versions.

Among the history of the Focomat enlarger is the strange cul-de-sac styled the Focomat 1b which some might consider better styled informally the ' Focomat 1.0.1' in that it built on the basis of the last pre- war European machine while introducing the groundwork of the true Wetzlar second version.

It would appear that the revised design was brought to the market during the period that ownership of the New York Company was vested in the Alien Property Custodian which did not expire until a sale of 'stock' in  August 1952 returning the company to private ownership although not owned by Leitz family or  Leitz company interests. The firrst new owner being The Dunhill Corporation.This was not quite so simple as it seemed as more or less the same procedure had been enacted during the First War and of course the New York branch developed some products and practices of it's own while controlled by, indirectly ,the US government,including a fair copy of the Focomat.

The point of all this historical preamble is to highlight the Focomat 1b which was the subject of two whole page features in the company published magazine 'Leica Photography' of Summer 1948 (Volume 2 No 1) This is one of the the earliest of my collection of this magazine which only goes back to vol 1,No.1 from Spring 1948 which was I think the first post war issue and which appeared without any note of the nine year interruption since it's predecessor disappeared for the War. Format is much the same as the pre war editions. Production may have commenced in the US to a US modified design in 1946 (Laney) with a matching lens produced in the States.

The main features in which the 1b differs are-

The conspicuous name/number plate on one parallelogram arm,  reflected on each side at a point where some weakness might be expected from the locking mechanism.All arms appear to come from the same pattern.

The rather modern (Radio Age) design of the ends of the condenser lever and the, seemingly, superfluous knob on the lower lamphouse.

Lack of a name plate facing forward. The column appears to, still, be 32mm.

The precise form of head lock on the right (facing) did not pass on to the later model.

However,  it is in the introduction of a tilting lamphouse that the machine adds a feature to become long lived and much appreciated!

scan here




Is it going too far to speculate that the 'limited supply' of negative carriers  in stock  for less popular sizes were left over from 1941? Three Index stops is generous indeed.

Apologies for the limited scan but my scanner misses the 'gutter' of bound books.

It is noticeable that the first Advert I have traced is 1946 in another publication and in bold type below the Leitz classic logo appears 'American Made' No logo is shown on the lamphouse.
 
By Summer 1950 the 'New Focomat 1c' from a, partly, rebuilt Europe was featured with the traditional swans neck condenser lever and a column of, still, 32mm- not yet 40mm,  with the much improved foot of asymetrical shape which endured until the very end. This appears to have marked the end of the 1B.


Noteworthy on the American 1c is the strange logo set in an unknown typeface with an overscored name and a sloping font.  It just occurred to me that this may have been in response to the 1950 legal case over the use of the Leitz classic trademark.  ( More than fully reported on the Internet if you should wish to research, but now of rather arcane interest.)  This might also explain the lack of a name plate on the 1b.

Introduction of the 1c-a poor scan but  from Summer 1950 when New York had stocks of the German made enlarger, However the odd logo is still seen in Fall  1952 advertisements but not,  I think, in the UK.


This first Ic had a 32mm column just as before and was advertised in company with the traditional Valoy unchanged since pre war days. Rather disturbing to a UK reader is the wiring schematic which omits any reference to earthing- the old problem.

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