The Schneider Story

Jos. Schneider Optische Werke has been a major player in global lens manufacture during our lifetime; it’s therefore strange to think of the company as a relative newcomer: ‘only’ being established in 1913 – almost forty years younger than their rivals Rodenstock. And yet within twelve months, Schneider released the first of many Symmar lenses, followed five years later by the groundbreaking Xenar design. By 1936, Schneider had sold one million lenses.

Schneider’s serial number system is ruthlessly simple – only complicated by the tortured on-off relationship with Isco, which we’ll return to shortly. On day one, Schneider made a lens and wrote ‘1’ on it. Every time the company made another lens, it engraved an incrementally larger number on it. Beginning with the 1936 seven-digit landmark, Schneider lenses and lens cells can be dated as follows:

1 000 0001936 (August)
1 200 0001937 (December)
1 400 0001938 (November)
1 600 0001939 (September)
1 800 0001942 (June)
2 000 0001948 (September)
2 200 0001949 (July)
2 400 0001950 (October)
2 600 0001951 (May)
2 800 0001951 (November)
3 000 0001952 (May)
4 000 0001954 (October)
5 000 0001957 (February)
6 000 0001959 (May)
7 000 0001961 (February)
8 000 0001963 (March)
8 500 0001964 (February)
9 000 0001965 (February)
9 500 0001965 (September)
10 000 0001967 (January)
10 500 0001967 (October)
11 000 0001968 (November)
11 500 0001970 (July)
12 000 0001972 (September)
12 500 0001974 (March)
13 000 0001976 (December)
13 200 0001977 (September)
13 400 0001978 (October)
13 600 0001979 (October)
13 800 0001981 (January)
14 000 0001983 (October)
14 100 0001983 (October)
14 200 0001986 (August)
14 300 0001988 (November)
14 400 0001991 (January)
14 460 0001992 (February)
14 480 0001993 (January)
14 500 0001993 (November)
14 510 0001994 (January)
14 520 0001994 (May)
14 540 0001995 (January)
14 560 0001995 (April)
14 590 0001996 (January)
14 600 0001996 (April)
14 620 0001996 (November)
14 623 3401997 (January)
14 651 5201998 (January)
14 690 3001999 (January)
14 726 6002000 (January)
14 730 0002000 (April)
14 756 4002001 (January)
14 788 4502002 (January)
14 820 9702003 (January)
14 853 7002004 (January)
14 890 8002005 (January)
15 000 0002008 (December) Serial numbers after this date untracked

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