The fact that there is sometimes disagreement is a good sign to me in that people have different tastes and concerns. The OP's mention of bokeh really helps to narrow the field with Nikkors.
When you bump up a stop, the field of lenses start to drift into different directions more noticeably.
I rarely shoot the 105 2.5 stopped down but about 2 months ago I was shooting it @ f/8 and IMMEDIATELY upon inspection of the negs I went...woah...(this thing kicks some serious behind)
Now I've only used the 85 f/2 and that was when I borrowed one on a large project I was assisting.
The 85 1.8 gets tons o luv and also gives you a good deal more handholdable speeds in low light.
So now that everyone has spoken so highly of the 105 I'm sure the prices will go up so I guess I'm going to have to wait. Ha. Actually, though I do have a FT3 body, the focusing is screwed up and doesn't align at infinity so I'm going to look for the FT2 body before I buy the 105.
I do like the 135's. I've got a Super Takumar that is just as sharp as my 50mm F1.4 SSC, but early at F4 and with better bokeh and small. I just can't use it on a Nikon body tho.
I'm sure this has been mentioned on the forum more than once, but there is some very nice historical information about Nikkor lenses on the Nikon site. More of a technical approach but very interesting.
Here' the page on the 105/2.5.
Link-Nikkor 105 f2.5
There is a quote on that page that always intrigued me:
"An anecdote back from the era of the Nikkor Auto lenses. There was a lens that delivered incredibly sharp resolution, but the defocus image (blur) was not so good. particular lens branded the whole Nikkor Auto family with a reputation of having bad defocus images, especially in Japan."
I've often wondered about that, and exactly which lens it refers to. Since waynecrider (the OP) particularly mentioned bokeh, I think that is relevant in this disscussion. There are really only a very few possibilites for that time frame. I've come to the conclusion that the author is talking about the Nikkor-H Auto 50mm f2 (or possibly it's predecessor, though I am not familiar with its imaging characteristics).
Link for the discussion of the various standard speed 50's.
I do like the 50 f2 (inspite of far from stellar bokeh in some situations) so didn't immediately think this was the lens the author meant, but last night I spent some time researching the offerings of that time and don't find another likely candidate. Anyone agree, or have a different suggestion?
Among the pre-AI lenses
...the "K" versions are preferred...they have AI optics and construction, just without the AI mount
...the "K" lenses also have multicoating...
...lenses marked H.C, S.C, P.C, Q.C are also multi-Coated but have pre-K construction and optics..."C" lenses' coating seem to give about 1/3 F-stop more contrast/brightness over the earlier non "C" version
From my experience:
The 50mm/F2 people like is the one with the rubber focusing knurl...it's the "K" version......
The pre-AI 50mm/1.4 to look for is the S.C
The 85/1.8 was never AI, though a "K" version was made and the optional Nikon AI aperture ring was available...
The 135/2.8 Q.C is VERY good, but it is considerably "heftier" than the later "K" and AI versions
The 135/2.8 K is VERY good
The 180/2.8 P.C is the old Sonnar optic version...the AI and later ED versions are gaussian optics
The 200/4 Q.C is very good...the one with the longer focusing knurl and closer focusing (7') than the earlier 200
The 300/4.5 H is much better than reviewers claim, if not as good as the later ED
Enjoy the hunt and good shooting...