USA (est.1940)

DateCameraEnlargerDev. TankTripod adapterFilm (1x)
1940-JUN79 USD35 USD8.50 USD2.95 USD0.90 USD latvian-made
194198 USD

120 to 150 USD Buy-Back


4.00 USD american-made

On the 20th of June 1940, The New York Times reviewed the VEF Minox camera in its regular "Notes of the Camera World" column. 
The article mentioned that the coming week (01 July 1940) the camera will be introduced to the american market for the first time and go on sale in the New York area.

The reception was generally positive and several camera magazines started to review the VEF Minox camera. Here an example exert: "...termed the "teeny weeniest war refugee" by a feminine camera news reporter, the Latvian-made "Minox" camera [...] is definitely, the smallest camera we have ever attempted to completely review..." (1940, Camera: a practical magazine for photographers: Volume 61). The most talked about topics in the camera community were its small size, its unusual Latvian origin and the steep sale price. The camera had a starting cost of 79USD which was considerably more than the sale price in Latvia at the time (45USD/240Lat).
Initially the small enlarger retailed for 35USD, the development tank for 8.50USD, the tripod adapter for 2.95USD, and one 50 exposure film cassette for 0.90USD.


Janis Vitols, who establiseh Minox Inc had previously set up Minox's representation in England. Once he arrived in New York, he is believed to have established links with the baltic import/export company Ad-Auriema (est 1935 New York). With their experience in importing goods and distributing them throughout the US, Minox Inc was registerd on the 3rd of June 1940 Minox Inc using Auriemas company address in Manhattan at 116 Broad Street, New York (116 Broad Street, New York, NY) (near Battery Park). The main shareholder was VEF Riga with 180? shares (90%), followed by Janis with 18shares (9%) , Auriema with 1 share (0.5%) and the laywer John Mahoney with the remaining 1 share (0.5%). Not long after incorporation Janis moved his company to  the Latvian-American War Relief Commitees headquaters in downtown Manhattan (92 Liberty St. New York, NY) which had a spare office at the time. 4 years after arriving  in the USA, Janis married on the 31 March 1944 Mable La Montague (a pesonell supervisor in the psychatric division at Bellevue Hospital).

The early staff included E.J.Mechan who was Sales Manager for Minox Inc. Soon after, the Minox camera was being distributed outside New York. On the 18th of August and 1st of September 1940 advertisements appeared in West Virginia (the Charleston Daily Mail), Chicago (Bass store) and on the 30th of September 1940 in Los Angeles (Los Angeles Times).

Above is an advertisement of the VEF Minox camera by Winter Inc. (525-527 West Sixth Street, Los Angeles, CA), showing that camera stores from coast to coast were stocking the VEF Minox by the end of 1940.
 Surviving receipts from a store in Hollywood California documents the sale of "4000 series" cameras.