This is my late grandfather’s vintage Argus C3 rangefinder camera with a coated Cintar lens, which I “inherited” at Christmas.
After doing a bit of research it appears that Argus produced the C3 model from circa 1938 to 1956. I believe mine is one of the earlier C3 models and dates before 1945. This is based on the following: the fact that the exposure dial is silver with black numbers (instead of black with white numbers), there is no accessory shoe, there is no Argus nameplate on the front, it has a Weston film speed reminder dial (later models didn’t have this), the back also has three stripes of leatherette divided by chrome (instead of being plain). The camera’s serial number is 137195 (inside the film compartment instead of on the bottom), which means it was produced after WWII had started. It will take a picture in the 24 x 36mm size, and is commonly referred to as “The Brick.” Many people estimate that of the 35mm cameras that American soldiers took into WWII, the Argus “Brick” was the most popular one. All this seems to fit with what I know of my grandfather; he was a US Marine in WWII and did have pictures that he took during the war buried in his desk drawer. There was one picture that I’ll never forget: that of group Japanese soldiers chained to their tank while being shot at. My grandfather said that it was common for the Japanese to chain their soldiers to the tanks during battle, to prevent them from running away. One of the Japanese soldiers had already fallen when my grandfather took the shot.
If I can ever figure out how to work it, I’d like to take some pix with my little piece of history. Knowing that my grandfather probably used it during WWII would only make that more special.