Jacques Bolsey (1895–1962) was a pioneer of filmmaking. Born Yakob Bogopolsky, in Kiev. He was a Ukrainian engineer and camera designer who was a prolific inventor. In the 1920s, he invented the revolutionary Bolex movie camera. He was also instrumental in the initial design of the Swiss Alpa-Reflex Camera in the 1930s, prior to emigrating to the US before WWII.
In the US he developed combat cameras for the military during the war. After the war he adapted one of his designs to a marketable consumer level 35mm, the Bolsey B. This camera evolved through multiple configurations and feature levels until 1956 when Bolsey sold most of the business to the Wittenauer Watch Company.
The Bolsey line suffers from poor metal-plating so it is difficult to find these old cameras with a nice finish, but no matter how beat up they are, most Bolsey cameras work well. Perhaps it is the combat heritage.
Bolsey Model B Circa 1947
The Bolsey B is a 35mm rangefinder camera with a cast aluminum body, introduced by Bolsey in 1947. This was the first Bolsey camera. The model number of the camera is stamped in the leatherette on the top of the camera. This camera was replaced by the B2 (below).
A Model A was advertised later, but was never sold under the Bolsey name (see Model A below).
The lens is a fixed Wollensak Anastigmat 44/3.2 with helical focusing, and the Wollensak leaf shutter gives T, B, 10–200 speeds. The rangefinder is of the split-image type, coupled to the lens but separate from the viewfinder.
A version named Bolsey B Special, with MODEL B SPECIAL engraved on the front, has a removable lens and shutter assembly, to insert an extension ring for close up work.
Bolsey Model B (Red) Circa 1947
Following the popular trend of colored cameras, Bolsey offered the Model B with red leatherette. This is one of the rarer Bolsey cameras. It was manufactured from 1947 to 1956, first as a Model B and then as a Model B2.
Bolsey Model B2 Circa 1949
The Bolsey B2 is the visually similar successor of the model B, made from 1949 to 1956 with double exposure prevention. It is engraved MODEL B2 on the front. The shutter is synchronized and marked Synchro Matic with a red lightning painted on each side. Minimal aperture is 22 instead of 16. There is an inscription "Model B2" to the right of the viewfinder window on the front of the camera.
Bolsey Model C Circa 1950
Bolsey modified their view finder Model B2 to enter the popular TLR market. For some reason the glue holding the red badge on the on the top of the Bolsey C cameras frequently fails and its hard to find an otherwise clean example with the badge in place. An enhanced version with the set-o-matic features was sold as the Model C22.
Bolsey Model 22 Circa 1953
The Model B22 is a variant of the B2 with a system called Set-O-Matic -- a coupling of the control of the aperture to the focus for flash photography.
Bolsey Model B3 or Jubilee Circa 1955
Enhancements to the B22 resulted in the Jubilee with set-o-matic, which was also marketed as the B3 without the set-o-matic.
Bolsey Model A (Pal) Circa 1956
The Bolsey A was designed and advertised, but never actually offered for sale. Instead, when Bolsey ceased production he sold the rights to La Belle Industries Inc. They produced it as their Pal model. This is a fairly rare camera.