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cappi Wednesday 30th November 2011 16:29

collecting Bushnell/ Bausch lomb binoculars
Is there any information out there as the the serial numbers/dates of manufacture of Bushnell binoculars ? Would be a useful tool for distinguishing the level of coatings, ie. coated, fully, multi, fully multi coated, etc.

James Bean Thursday 19th January 2012 22:03

Apparently not! I've been collecting Bausch & Lomb binoculars for the past year or so and have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of these products. I started with a lump of B&L optical glass (about the size of a small fist) which is displayed on my mantelpiece, and then bought an ultra compact B&L pocket multi-magnifier which goes everywhere with me.
I now have half a dozen B&L binoculars, the latest being a 7x42 Discoverer (phase coated) received just today after buying it on UK eBay for 116, complete with genuine B&L leather case, strap, rain guard and objective covers. On first looking through it, I had a "Wow!" moment, so bright and clear. It was as if the sun had just come out on a dismal day. Definitely another 'keeper'.
So, does anyone out there have product history/serial numbers for Bausch & Lomb stuff?

Nixterdemus Thursday 16th February 2012 13:17

I am a fool for research, but have nothing to speak of on the B&L. I picked up a Zephyr in 6x30, 9x35 Discoverer, a Chinese & most recently Japanese version of the lowly 7x35 Legacy which packs quite a punch for the inexpensive price tag.
The Zephyr models after WWII are single coated & I'm not sure if they were manufactured in the multi-coat era. Still, they are prized and consistently fetch a good price.

rdmadison Sunday 4th March 2012 05:39

Hey neighbor,

How do you like those 6x30 Zephyrs? I like a six because it's so easy on the eyes, but the magnification on my Swift sixes might be okay for tanks but is insufficient for birds.

I was looking hard at the pair of 6x30 posted this week on the bidding site.

FrankD Sunday 4th March 2012 17:53

Yep, I bid on those but just see that I was outbid.


rdmadison Sunday 4th March 2012 22:30

Well, Frank, you hardly expected to get them for $30, eh?
I liked the old days when you could tell if it was one of your friends bidding. Just for the record, I'm not the second bidder!

John Dracon Monday 5th March 2012 05:28

James Bean - I came into possession years ago a one page summary to B&L serial numbers 1941-1986. With this you can identify B&L binoculars of that vintage. I don't have scan capabilities, but if you send me a self-addressed stamped envelope, I'll make a copy and you can put it on the web. My address is: John Dracon, Box 948, White Sulphur Springs, Montana 59645.

tazzilla Monday 5th March 2012 22:45

I just bought a pair of B&L Discoverer 7x43 with flip up butler creek front covers and a nice bino, harness with original box and carry pouch and neck strap. paid $110 not sure going price but I am keeping them they are very clear and focus great. My first B&L optics

James Bean Thursday 15th March 2012 10:37

John Dracon: Sorry for not coming back to you sooner. Thanks very much, I appreciate your help in providing information. Self-addressed envelope on its way... Jim.

Nixterdemus Friday 16th March 2012 22:54

I like the old 6x30. Unbelievably light and though they were filthy they were also show little use and are tight. I can see these being used more often as I age. Partially I suppose because I'm using Ross porro II IF 12x50 Stepray to compliment my tripod glass. They're old & dated, but they're lightweight, relatively compact feeling good in hand.
Looking forward to the B&L SN's being posted. I'm curious when mine were made.

James Bean Thursday 19th April 2012 15:33

I'm also curious about Bausch & Lomb records from 1986 onwards, to complement information contained in 1990s Trade Catalogues (not always accurate or complete). I recall seeing, on another thread, that B&L Elites had PC3 phase coating from 1992 and my 1994 Catalogue confirms the Elites then had a 'P' after their model number. But the Discoverer roof models didn't have a 'P' suffix in 1994, so presumably lacked phase coating at that time. Indeed, on another Forum elsewhere, someone claimed PC3 was not applied to Discoverer roofs until 2001. It would be useful to have serial numbers and specifications for the years up to 2004, which I gather is when Bausch and Lomb finally withdrew its name from the binoculars market in favour of Bushnell. Incidentally, I don't recall ever seeing the 'P' suffix on any B&L Discoverers, nor even on the very last models marketed by Bushnell. Perhaps, like Zeiss, phase coating had become so 'de rigueur' in the 21st century that they didn't feel the need to flaunt it.
Finally, on the topic of serial numbers, it's not always obvious where they are on the binocular body. Have you tried to find it on a B&L 7x42 Discoverer? It was only after I'd deployed my big B&L magnifying glass that I discovered (pun intended) tiny words barely discernible on the face of the front hinge: fully bent down to minimum IPD, the word 'Japan' and a K inside a triangle; then fully bent up to widest IPD, serial no. AD 1344. My other one has the serial no. AG 4053. Can anybody tell me the years these were manufactured, and what the 'K in a triangle' signifies? PC3 coating maybe?

John Dracon Friday 20th April 2012 23:55

J'ames - for your info. No self-addressed envelope arrived. I'll try to get someone to help me get the B&L records posted on Bird Forum. John

James Bean Saturday 21st April 2012 00:17

John, It's definitely on its way, albeit delayed because the only way I could 'prepay' the self-addressed envelope was to enclose 5 dollar bills which I hope will be sufficient! Jim.

John Dracon Saturday 21st April 2012 18:23

Jim - Your letter arrived today. Can't return mail today because our post office is not open on Saturday, but it will be mailed Monday. It took four days which is remarkable coming from merry old England across the Atlantic and 2000 miles of the U.S.A. You will have your B&L data soon. It will cause a little bit of excitement in our tiny post office since letters sent to England from White Sulphur Springs are not common. Take care. John

James Bean Sunday 22nd April 2012 13:23

Thanks John. Letters sent from Chester to White Sulphur Springs are not all that common either! Chester was a Roman fortress 2,000 years ago and recent research seems to confirm it was also the historical base of the 'fabled' Knights of the Round Table of Arthurian legend. It was also the county town of Cheshire, famous for the longbow yeomen of 'Merrie Olde England'.
Part of the fun of Birdforum for me is to find where members are located. I see from my Collins USA Road Atlas that you live in the middle of Montana, about 150 miles north-west of Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, now in the Cheyenne and Crow reservations. Wow! I remember this vividly pictured in my "Wild West Annual" as a boy.
Four days for the mail to reach you is mighty quick, but this 'post' is instantaneous...!

John Dracon Sunday 22nd April 2012 16:55

Jim - the Internet is ruining many postal systems. Wonder how long before our governments figure out a way of taxing our use of it. FYI, I'm a wee bit of an authority on the Custer Battle, inasmuch as I was a lecturer for the National Park Service as a seasonal historian back in the 1960's. But my knowledge is dated today. Same birds in Montana today as there were in 1876. The binoculars back then were pretty primitive compared to what we have now. Lewis & Clark did have a telescope (Galilean) on their trek. That must have been a highly prized item back then. John

John Dracon Tuesday 24th April 2012 15:40

Jim - the data should arrive in a few days. The telescope mentioned in the Lewis & Clark journals would bring a small fortune today if authenticated. Actually very few artifacts exist today of that adventure. It would be interesting to see what kind of optics they were grinding back in 1804. John

James Bean Sunday 29th April 2012 18:18

John, Many thanks for the B&L data which arrived yesterday, along with the 5 dollars!
The weather has been really miserable here today, unremitting rain in the middle of what is supposed to be an 'official drought'. The birds in my garden have been dashing out of the trees and shrubs, snatching morsels of food from the lawn, then running for cover again. As a result of this wet weather, everything is even greener than usual in Chester.
I did a 'Google Earth' on White Sulphur Springs and it looks like you don't get much rain in your neck of the woods. I also see you're not far north of the Bozeman Trail, another memory from my 'Wild West Annual' nostalgia. I was fascinated by native tribes, such as those of the Sioux Nation: Oglala, Minneconjou, Hunkpapa, and loved to read all about famous Chiefs like Red Cloud and Sitting Bull. When in Arizona in 2003 I visited a Navajo reservation, and still have one of their 'sand art' pictures stuck on my fridge door, next to one from Warsaw, commemorating the ghetto...
Anyway, enough of this reminiscing! I'll publish the data you sent so anyone can use it. Thanks again, Jim.

James Bean Monday 30th April 2012 00:11

1 Attachment(s)
Bausch & Lomb Production Codes (kindly provided by John Dracon):

LPT Monday 30th April 2012 04:07

Thank you John and James for this information. It is much appreciated. I have now been able to date my Rochester 7X35 Zephyr to 1946. However, my Japanese 7X35 Zephyr which I purchased new in the later 1970's has no letters in its serial numbering and does not seem to accord with B&L SN sheet.

brentwood Monday 7th May 2012 20:43

Thanks to both for this very interesting info. I found out that the Zephyr 9x35 I bought last year in a Wyoming pawnshop was made in 1948, wow it still looks new & the leather strap is almost untouched. I also have a 6x30 with just a serial number & no letters. Although it may not be a B&L, I also have a 7x50 with no markings at all, no serial numbers, just the lens cleaning sticker, so it does appear to be US Military?

Beaglet Sunday 14th June 2015 23:34

This is an old thread, but I have 3 pairs of old B&L Discoverer binoculars, so I must be in the right place. I've checked each (a 7X35, an &X50 and a 10X50) against the list that John and James provided (thanks!) but they each have a 5 digit number, with no suffix or prefix. This is contrary to the 4 digit number with a double letter prefix or suffix.
Can anyone shed some light on this id problem? Thanks.

etudiant Sunday 14th June 2015 23:51


Originally Posted by Beaglet (Post 3233311)
This is an old thread, but I have 3 pairs of old B&L Discoverer binoculars, so I must be in the right place. I've checked each (a 7X35, an &X50 and a 10X50) against the list that John and James provided (thanks!) but they each have a 5 digit number, with no suffix or prefix. This is contrary to the 4 digit number with a double letter prefix or suffix.
Can anyone shed some light on this id problem? Thanks.

Hate to raise your concern, but in the past, there were Zeiss Jena copies produced in Japan post WW2 (not entirely illegitimately apparently, long story) that usually had 6 digit serial numbers, while the authentic ones had 7 digit numbers. B&L was also a highly regarded brand, so I'd wonder if there was an effort to create copies there as well.

Hopefully one of the better informed members of the forum can shed light on this.

John Dracon Monday 15th June 2015 01:27

Folks - My understanding of the B&L info I started is that it pertains only to the Zephyrs made in the US, not the B&Ls made in Japan nor the thousands of B&Ls made in the Second World War. Very tricky getting accurate info on any binocular today. I believe Zeiss keeps the most accurate record on serial numbers.

John Dracon Monday 15th June 2015 01:32

Adding to the confusion was the name "Zephyrs" on some of the B&L brand binoculars made in Japan. They are excellent binoculars but heavier than the Rochester Zephyrs, and not on the list I furnished.

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