Rolleiflex Wide Angle
According to Ian Parker's research findings, this model originated in 1959 when the British Orient Shipping Line required a wide-angle camera to take shots of groups on its cruises. They offered to buy 400, and Rollei went ahead to make them, with the camera launched in April 1961. Only 4,000 were made between then and 1967, when production ceased. At a launch price of £220 - about 60% more than the contemporaneous 2.8F - small sales were perhaps unsurprising.
There are other opininions as to how the Wide Angle came about. Certainly, by 1959, Rollei sales to professional photographers were being impacted by the developing Mamiya/Mamiyaflex C range, with its interchangeable lenses. Rollei were never to launch a direct competitor, but the Wide Angle and Tele models were their attempt at a response. Lacking the flexibilty of the Mamiya approach, whch required only one camera body to be purchased, these were not hugely successful models at their high cost. However, each found a niche in the market.
This particular camera is one of those sold to the company which had the contract for photography on cruise ships. I have documentation in a letter from Ian Parker in 1997, when Club Rollei borrowed the camera for use in an article on the Wide Angle model, published in October 1997. It is in generally excellent condition, although the viewfinder hood has been expertly painted at some time to cover one or two scratches. I am told that it had previously spent some time on display in Ian Parker's Rollei Museum in Jersey. It came to me with a very good case and lens cap, and a rather tatty lens hood.
Rollei have recently (2003/4) relaunched the Rollei Wide in a new version, although the newer cameras are not generally seen as being as robust and well-built as the originals.