Stories

 

In this section everyone can submit their own Minox camera which is slightly unusal or has an interesting story to tell. No matter how small, if you think it is interesting please submit it to minoxriga@yahoo.com.The first entry comes from the Minox Museum with camera 13309 

01023 -  Earliest survivor?
01401 -  New camera in disguise
09418 -  The last batch of the Imperial export cameras
13255 -  Upgraded in Germany!
13309 -  Missing in action
20981 -  Highest Serial number?

01023

Sold in 2004 Minox No.01023 is currently believed to be the earliest known production camera in existence. In total there are currently only 5 known survivors of the "Club 100" (No.01000-01100). It was bought second hand in Seattle in the 1950s and was used in a police corruption investigation. According to the seller it has never been used thereafter and lay dormant for over 50 years.

01401

This camera has all the features of a late stage Minox (larger lens window, diagonal Minostigmat engraving, 1 top plate screw, coarse polish etc, etc), yet it features a back plate with pat.app. and a the very early VEF Minox logo. In addition it has a low serial number of 01401 without the usual "No" in front of it. I have seen that in one instance the previous owner filled in the first digit of a serial number with black lacqer or varnish. In that instance 165xx became 65xx (i forgot to record the exact number). However this is unlikely here as there is a "0" in front of 1401. So it looks much more like new engraving into a blank camera body. If it - had - a blank camera body, then we know from post-war Minox  assembled by Minox Germany, that they featured a blank back plate. Minox Germany used the blank back plate to engrave their new german Minox logo. To me it would have been a rare and exiting camera in its own right. It is an extremely late example of a functioning post-war Minox. Maybe it was assembled by Minox Germany!?. However some owner prefered the look of the first logo and engraved it together with the fantasy serial number onto the minox. Maybe even the same person who may have assembled it. To me its a shame. Submin recorded that it exchanged hands in 2008 for one thousand dollars. It now frequently appears on ebay Germany. I wish someone would have pitty and exchange the back plate to a blank version.

09418

No.09148 features here as an example for the very late batch of imperal Minox cameras. It is actually the second last known surviving imperial VEF Minox camera. Sadly I have no pictures of camera No.09459 which is the last imperial version known to exist. Export versions featuring imperial distance scale dials were very popular and frequent. Large batches were made in the 1,2,3,4,5 and 6-thousand series. However, then production stopped!

Yet a batch of very late export cameras appear. These include No.08917, No.09047, No.09064, and the more distant No.09418 and No.09459. It would be very interesting to know why the production of export cameras almost stopped but then for a brief interlude during russian occupation started again. The USSR (and occupied sowjet Latvia) had normal trade relations with the USA and the rest of Europe (even Germany until they turned against Russia). Was it a commercial reason to start the export camera production again? Or was it a diplomatic reason? A special war-effort of the USSR, supplying its allies (UK/USA) with minox cameras? Very interesting!

Earliest:

Latest:

13255

Indeed one of the rarest cameras are those which have been assembled by Minox in West Germany after WW2. Some cameras which have been assembled luckily recieved the Modern Minox logo (No VEF) and some were hand-inscribed "Germany". Some even feature both. So how does 13255 fit in? To 99,9% certainty this camera was made by VEF in Latvia. However it is also clear that after the war it has been send to Minox in West Germany. It now features a modern West German 3-toothed film advance spool. This is not unusual. Many old cameras that came in for repair were upgraded by Minox West Germany. It seems that a lot of Minox Rigas recieved a modern film advance spool. Uncommon however is that they would inscribe the camera "Germany" as the camera was not assembled by them and rather only repaired/upgraded. Was this maybe done to market/promote the young german company very early after the war? Or was the camera owner a german minox worker? Very unusual. 

13309
This VEF Minox was found buried in the ground in Germany after the War and is now in a WW2 collection. These Photos were kindly provided by the Minox Museum (NL). 
The serial number 13309 puts the camera firmly in the german occupation period and was only finished 1942-1943. As some late cameras of 14000 range were still aquired by latvian civilians we can not be certain who owned it. However it made its way from latvia to Germany were it was lost. It looks as if the camera was abandoned or lost "in -action" as it still has a Minox film inside. While the film canister has been completly dissolved it is clear that quite a few exposures had been taken before it parted with its owner. What an interesting find! And who was the owner, and what pictures were on this film? 


20981
This VEF Minox was auctioned at ebay in 2012. It is a late Riga (larger lens window with silver grey frame) and Metric. On the back we can find the West German Minox Logo! (without the VEF inside). In addition under the logo is a very small hand written inscription (Germany). Further more, it has no Made in Latvia or Patented engraving. Inside the film chamber we can see that the camera has a Minox Riga body (please look at the position of the tiny screw next to the opening mechanism). The seller also confirmed the weight of the camera to be that of a Minox Riga. The Film chamber is engraved with a new serial number. That means the body must have been blank before. Yes blank bodies existed! If 20981 has a meaning and is not a fantasy number then it  would indicate a date of 1949. So did in 1949 Minox exployees, maybe for training purposes, assemble this Minox, gave it a new Minox Logo and Serial number? Definately a very interesting camera!