Superb! 1947 Voigtlander 6x9 Bessa Rangefinder with Heliar lens, CLA'd, Freshly Serviced!
Cleaned, Lubricated & Adjusted. Ready for immediate use
This is the rare, black Voigtlander Bessa rangefinder camera which was produced during a short production run in Germany shortly after the second world war. Many collectors aren’t aware of them but in circa 1947 Voigtlander managed to produce a small run of these black Bessa rangefinder cameras. For many years it was presumed that they had been constructed from parts that had managed to survive the war. However if you actually examine and measure one of these rare cameras and compare it to an original prewar example, it becomes obvious that the rangefinder top cover is slightly larger. This indicates that in addition to the utilization of remaining stocks of older parts, these rare transitional cameras were also being being fitted with newly designed parts intended for the Bessa II.
Once you realize this, other changes begin to become apparent as well. For example instead of the imitation leatherette that had been used on the pre-war Bessa, this post-war camera came wrapped in thick rich leather, in an attempt to upgrade its appeal to buyers. It’s identical to the leather that had only been used Voigtlanders most prestigious cameras such as the prewar Voigtlander Prominent. It’s also fitted with a black faced Compur shutter without the traditional Voigtlander logo. But the biggest change that catches the eye is that impressive lens. It’s a f3.5/105mm Heliar in a new style mount that allows the use of slide on filters and shades, rather than relying on the original cute, but fragile hinged filter holder.
Some sources indicate that in circa 1947 only about 2000 of these cameras were produced in total. Others mention even lower production numbers… What is clear however, is that very few of these cameras have survived the 70 year journey to the present day. This combination of low production and low survival rate makes this a very difficult to find camera. I’ve been collecting and using classic cameras for some 45 years and in that time I’ve seen less than eight examples in real life.
After the limited production run, Voigtlander finished the running changes to their production line and never produced a black Bessa again. Instead they went on to produce the chromed Bessa II.
The Black Bessa Rangefinder camera we have on offer is in exceptionally fine condition. It’s been carefully cleaned, lubricated and adjusted and it’s ready for immediate use. Everything works as it should. The rangefinder has also been cleaned, the image very bright and focusing works smoothly and easily. The bellows are supple and light tight. The quality Compur Rapid shutter fires smoothly and all the speeds from 1 sec to 1/400 are appropriate. The slow speeds buzz along smoothly and the fast ones are clean and snappy.
This camera is fitted with a very desirable f3.5/105mm Heliar lens. (A superb legendary design with five elements in three groups.) The Heliar lens is in fine condition. There are no scratches or cleaning marks and it’s capable of producing lovely photos with modern color and B&W films.
All in all, a wonderful 6X9 rangefinder camera. Load it with your favorite film and keep it handy for that perfect shot you’ve been looking for. You know the one... the one with the perfect Ansel Adams light breaking through the dark clouds that leaves you wishing you had a classic medium format camera with you.