Did not mention ... it is fitted to an Ilford Witness ... my grail camera :-)
The Ilford Witness was initially a design exercise in 1945/47 by two German-Jewish refugees ... ex-Leitz employee Robert Sternberg and ex-Zeiss employee D.A. Rothschild ... thus it had attributes of both Leica and Zeiss Ikon Contax rangefinder cameras ... at the time the Leica IIIC and Contax IIa cameras were just resuming production after WW2 ... and all new cameras were very scarce and expensive. In the late 1940's SLR cameras were still under development and not in general use thus 1930's/40's Leica and Contax rangefinder designs and Rolleiflex/Rolleicord TLR's, and 5x4 Speed Graphics were the tools of serious photo-journalists. Sternberg and Rothschild approached Ilford in 1947 .... Ilford wanted to develop a range of cameras after the war and thus agreed to manufacture the Witness.
The Witness was manufactured for Ilford by Peto Scott in Weybridge, Surrey. Postwar difficulties delayed production and the first 250 cameras ordered were not produced until 1951. They sold for £112 complete with a 2 inch f1.9 Dallmeyer Super Six lens ... that was a considerable sum of money probably equivalent to at least 10 weeks average UK wages.
Sales were slow and Ilford decided to concentrate on less complex cameras eg the Advocate ... thus production of the Witness ceased in 1953. The last of the cameras were 'remaindered' via Dollands and sold off at £80 each. The camera was not a commercial success partly because of poor marketing and partly because of under-development eg lack of lenses and accessories compared to Zeiss and Leitz cameras ... and partly due to the lack of ££ in people's pockets.
But, it was a landmark quality camera equal and in some respects better than the equivalent Leica and Contax models. The few that now survive are amongst the very most collectible, and usable postwar cameras. The shutter is just as quiet as a Leica and the rangefinder has a wider base thus is more accurate.
This particular camera is fitted with a very scarce British "Dallmeyer" f1.5 2 inch 'SEPTAC' lens with the unique Witness 'interrupted thread' screw fitting. This was a very fast lens at that time and matched the equivalent fast Leitz and Zeiss designs ... but the normal lens supplied for the Witness was the Dallmeyer 2 inch f1.9 Super Six. The 'interrupted thread' is just visible in the lens picture .. the 39mm screw thread has 3 'gaps' or 'slots' cut into it enabling the thread to be 'bayoneted' onto the body ... but the similarly interrupted body thread will also accept normal L39mm thread lenses. The Septac lens focuses down to 3 feet in normal use but can also be 'tripped' to extend and focus to 1.8 feet ... but the extension is not rangefinder coupled.
I acquired the camera two weeks ago and will be putting a film through it asap .. the shutter and rangefinder were serviced prior to purchase. The serial number is 5025 and I have traced serial numbers for six other Witness cameras sold since 1997 up to S/N 5329 ... the accepted total production is circa 350 cameras but probably only a few survive in full working order after 55 years. When sold originally many would have had a hard professional life. The camera has an Ilford fitted leather case which has helped to protect it over the years but the case is currently under repair by a saddler. Yesterday (16 June) I bid on Ebay in USA for an original Witness instruction manual ... but my last minute bid of $60 was already beaten and did not even appear ... the manual sold for $80 .. so now will have to be content with a photocopy from Oldtimer Cameras.