Exakta and Exa Serial Numbers
The serial number groups on these pages can be confusing when used to identify a specific version of Exakta/Exa. Of course, the name on the front plate of the camera immediately narrows your search but that is the end of the easy work. To identify a specific version of camera, start at the top of a table and work your way down. Changes between versions are listed in the right-hand column. Ensure your camera includes each version change until you get to something that is not on your camera. The previous entry may be the version camera you have but check the serial number to see if it's included in the serial group for your camera.
Exakta's can be deceptive...
In a car factory, a new part may be updated and all older parts smelted or saved for repairs. When a factory uses this method of updating, they can keep track of the serial numbers on which different parts are introduced. Eventually, collectors can Xerox this information from the factory archives.
The Ihagee factory didn't use the above method! They knew it was a waste of time and money to destroy or remove parts from the assembly line and then catalog the event. When a new feature was introduced on the Ihagee assembly line - a knob for example - the new knobs were probably included in the same parts bin as the older knobs, without removing the older parts from the bin. Remember now, we're talking about an assembly line. One person installs the faceplate, the next installs the shutter release cover, the next installs the flange... It wouldn't be too long before the older version of knobs were used.
Thus, the serial number groups of Exakta versions generally overlap. Some variations are nested within a larger group of numbers. Very interesting don't you think? However, it doesn't stop there!
Let me add some unpredictable 'versions' of Exakta's.
What if you were an Ihagee machinist rummaging through the factory storage area and found an old box of shutter speed knobs? You, knowing that the factory doesn't like waste, take the new-found knobs to your manager, who takes them to the production line and pours them in the parts bin. Perhaps now, there is a VP camera version with an unusual knob.
And - there is yet another form of Exakta version. The factory upgrade. A factory upgrade will normally have the original serial number of the camera but modifications which are more recent. i.e. You may have a Varex VX that has the serial number 484190. The serial number is for a round magnifier Kine! The factory will have replaced the body shell of the Kine and engraved it with the original Kine serial number, updated the knobs, faceplate etc... as required.
It is necessary to pay attention when trying to identify an Exakta version. You never know what you're going to find! If you are absolutely certain that your camera is original and not included in the tables, please write Klaus. You may be able to help fill-in some blank areas of the serial groups.
Translating and reorganizing this serial number information is my attempt to help English speaking collectors get on the "next level" with their Exakta's. I know more than one American Exakta collector who is shocked and staggered with the amount of variation discovered in these pages. One person made the outright comment to me "Those aren't real versions". After all, they have memorized one book and are thus very knowledgeable in their field. I had a good chuckle because it's just a little hypocritical to make that comment when I know full well they recognize these same changes as legitimate versions when dealing with cameras from other makers! It is not an unusual reaction when you consider that 98% of the English speaking collectors have assembled their collections using only one reference source - the Aguila/Rouah book. Aguila/Rouah have the distinction of writing the first English language Exakta collecting book but that is not a claim or proof that the work is by any means complete. I personally think they did a fantastic job on their book, when you consider there wasn't anything else! The present edition of the A/R book is a great way to get started with your collection but don't let the information contained in one book restrict your thinking! A comment for sensitive people; do not feel chastised by the writing in this paragraph. It is simply an observation and perhaps an indication of where Exakta collecting is going in the 21st century. ;-)
Black and white version of this page for printing.