We are discussing two completely different things here. I was simply responding to your statement that the image you posted, could have happily been made on high-resolving Leica glass, whereas it is clearly technically deficient (based on the posted web image) compared to (small, 5x7in prints). This (and I repeat) does not mean it's a bad image artistically.
Originally Posted by blockend
Many of the great images of the past (and present) have poor technical quality, but are favourable because of their pictorial content. I am sure that this will always be most important...
You, however, seem to be stating that their pictorial content causes them to have inherently good technical quality in a large print? That's as absurd as the (common) reverse sentiment: That good technical content makes a good picture.
But we digress: The intent of my post was not to discuss the artistic merits of certain photographs, but simply an interesting lens. Certainly, in the 1950s, nobody had access to a Leica M- or LTM-mount lens of anywhere near the technical quality as this modern Heliar lens. (I believe this to be easily demonstrable). I am pretty sure that careful testing might show only the Coastal Optics UV-VIS-IR 60mm f/4 lens to be optically superior in the 35mm format (sure the reference lens to date), otherwise, in all likelihood, the Heliar 50mm f/3.5 is "it" - and I believe that may have been the reason for it's creation by Cosina.
Still, even with lesser lenses, great photographers made great images. I really don't disagree with that. And that's what counts in the end!