Nice post! Those glass blocks are impressive. I have an old book somewhere with a similar article on Angenieux lenses. Must look it up again.
I thought it was pretty interesting that a sledgehammer played a prominent role in the process. Current day optical glass production makes a lot more efficient use of the materials, but I think the glass still ends up being worth about $500/lb. I would guess plastic element costs are less, but I haven't come across any descriptions of that process.
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