That works well with well documented lenses, like newer ones and "collectibles" like old Dagors. There is a very good list at http://www.mamutphoto.com/content/view/92/43/lang,en/

I have a few good reference books especially for older German lenses.

It looks like my technique is to buy the lens, then see which format it will cover. That works too, at least if you have enough cameras...