Contessa Nettel was a camera company in Stuttgart under the direction of Dr. August Nagel that offered buyers about forty different models including many variations of the Cocarette in the 1920s. The company merged with the group that formed Zeiss Ikon in 1926, but Nagel was out of his comfort zone there, and he left to start up the Dr. Nagel-Werke factory that was ultimately acquired by Kodak in 1932. Around that time, Nagel developed the first pre-loaded 35mm cassette for the Retina.
Nagel probably was personally responsible for the design of the Cocarette, but it is hard to know at this remove how much of a hand he took in the design of later models. However, all the cameras that came from his factory clearly met his exacting requirements for design excellence. Shortly before August Nagel died in 1943 his son, Helmut Nagel, took over the direction of the company, managing it though the war and for many years afterward. A large number of lenses, camera components and newly developed prototypes had been hidden in a secret bunker before the war's end; with the help of U.S. overseers, the company managed to get its cameras back into production within months of the surrender.
The camera was otherwise in nice condition for its age, requiring only a cleaning of the three lens elements to get it usable. By attaching a transparent target to the rails at the film plane I was able to verify proper lens collimation, and also discovered the process that the front lens needed to be flipped so the convex side faced outward. The lens proved nicely sharp in use, and the available 1/100 shutter speed made hand held shots feasible. To reduce the liklihood of camera shake I used a cable release, and also taped a simple frame-type finder to the side which gave me a much better view of my subjects than the bright, but too small reflex finder.
These pictures of the fountain and the enlarged central section demonstrate the good resolution of the lens at f31.
Two more shots from my first roll through the camera: