These lenses don't come up very often and if one does, the price is ridiculously high. This one came along with a Leica where the seller included everything he had for the camera. That doesn't happen any more, for sure.
The test shots were good. Nothing special, though. The lens body is made of a very soft aluminum that discolors and is difficult to clean up. Don't get a Dremel near it. The lens mount adapter made in Italy. Presumably because there was a backlog of glass produced for the B&H camera, according to opinions on the Net.
Last Edit: Jan 25, 2016 9:26:16 GMT -5 by genazzano
The lens you have is one of the lenses assembled by British Optical, who were a TTH/Cooke subsidiary company. They mainly did contract work for the Government in the war, and post war period. The elements should match the ones for the Reid camera. They converted the Foton lenses that were surplus, so I assume the front parts were to go to Bell and Howell. The parts being soft aluminium, indicates to me that the parts had been made but never anodised, which adds a skin of hard oxide.
Details of the Italian Connection are poor, but as the parts were to be re-machined to alter the back,I suspect they were sent in un-anodised condition to Italy. Then the Italians assembled them without anodising, and when returned to be sold on, TTH would have had to disassemble the lenses again, and anodise them. As the batch was not that high a value, I expect they just sold them on straight away.
The Cooke marked version may also not have been as well assembled and collomated as the Reid ones, which were due to sell at a premium price.
TTH were expecting relatively large sales from the Reid orders, but the Reid messed up the whole project by slowing the development, and when it came to market, not advertising it as it should have been, as better than Leica. They had no intention of rivalling Leica, after all it was just a failed wartime project, but the standard of engineering demanded a high price. By the time it got on the market, the wartime and austerity restrictions were being done away with, and the Reid was seen as old fashioned by then and still overpriced.
Amateurs could not afford them, they could buy S/H Leica, and pro's preferred a camera with all the lenses available, that was proven like Leica was.
Even immediately after the war, Leica were available on the British Market brand new, there was a "priority" supply situation, if you had a genuine reason to need one, the you applied to Whitehall for exemption from the import restrictions. Unfortunately this was abused a bit by the well off, and even MPs, who gave themselves priority.
By the way, the whole Reid failure was echoed exactly in the United States, with the same result, a good camera that would not sell, the Kardon. Another plan to make a replacement for the Leica that was never needed.
The only Leica clone that was modestly successful was the Foca from France, designed before the war, and upgraded to rival Leica after the war. It did not copy the Leica, almost every detail is different, but aimed at the same market.