Ad for Corsair II camera in the September, 1941 issue of Popular Mechanics
Toronto. In September of 1941, America had not yet joined in the War in Europe that had been underway for two years, in spite of Churchill’s pleadings and the US President’s empathy. The loss of German cameras to America seemed imminent, sparking an out pouring of unique designs – that and the introduction of a rather fussy and pricey Kodachrome transparency film a couple of years earlier.
One of the protagonists of this design cornucopia was the fabled ‘Universal Camera Company’ of NYC (soon to become a Chicago entity). The firm identified all the pitfalls affecting colour photography and 35mm cameras.
To solve these identified afflictions, they announced a remarkable camera called the ‘Corsair II‘ that purported to ‘think for itself’ – and for just $20 US.
The company portrayed the camera as being the camera for colour, ‘ “Mistake-proof” features make it the ideal color camera. The essentials of successful color photography … accurate shutter speeds … correct exposure over entire picture area … and exposure meter … are all built-in features. Nothing more to buy, except film!’
If this Bakelite wonder is unfamiliar to you , check out the instruction manual here courtesy of Mr Butkus in NJ. And visit our fairs and auctions to find this and other Univex cameras.
And a thank you goes to my good friend George Dunbar for suggesting both this and the ad in the previous post on the Kodak Medalist.
Announcing the first Medalist camera
Toronto. … I can do better! Shades of Annie Get Your Gun! In December of 1941 (by the time this issue hit the stands, Pearl Harbor ad been bombed and America was dragged into WW2 kicking and screaming). This issue of Popular Mechanics announced a remarkable new Kodak camera that promised to bring to 620 film the features and benefits found on German imports like Leica, Contax, etc..
Shown here, the photographer has his hand on the ‘fine focus’ knob while using the accessory frosted glass back as a focussing screen. In the article the camera remains unnamed although it is obviously the famous Kodak Medalist (I) which stayed in production from 1941 – 1948 when the (II) replaced it. During WW2, the camera was customized for the military with a black anodized coating. According to McKeown, this coating drifted over to early post war cameras too.
Note. The title is a line from a 1946 song by Irving Berlin featured in the Broadway musical which became a film musical four years later, “Annie Get Your Gun” sung here by Howard Keel and Betty Hutton.
Phineas and Charlie from a Smithsonian copy of a Daguerreotype photograph
Toronto. Collectors of images may find new additions for their collections at the Port Colborne auction today. The two day event (Saturday and Sunday) honours the memory of PHSC member, auction coordinator, and 1st VP, the late John Kantymir. All lots in this event are from the Kantymir collection.
My good friend, George Dunbar sent along this image of a beautiful daguerreotype of Phineas T Barnum and his protege, ‘General Tom Thumb‘ A.K.A. Charles Sherwood Stratton. At the time, daguerreotype portraits were expensive and likely personal keepsakes. NB. the history of the circus, including Barnum’s involvement, can be read at this Wikipedia Link.
Years later, people like General Tom were captured on wet or dry plates and then cabinet card size copies were cheaply made and widely distributed to advertise the person as the late Michael Mitchell explained to us back in March 1980 and later in October 2003.
NOTE: The title of this post is a line in “It’s Only a Paper Moon” sung here by the great Nat King Cole.
1mm ring and bayonet rear lens cap from 1960s – 70s
Toronto. After recovering from WW2, Leitz embarked on their famous M series bayonet mount cameras with the extremely popular M3 camera. Like many leading manufacturers, Leitz was aware of their strong base of owners of the older screw mount cameras. They tackled the transition from screw to bayonet mount lenses and cameras in many ways.
The last screw mount camera model, the IIIg was sold alongside the M3 and introduced a few of the M3’s features. Buyers of a Leica could buy either the M series or the IIIg.
While the screw mount Leicas were slimmer than the slightly larger M series cameras, the film plane to lens mount distance was actually one mm longer. The 28.8mm screw mount distance became 27.8mm in the M series. This allowed a 1mm thick ring to be added to an M series camera lens mount, converting it for use with older screw mount lenses. This meant owners with screw mount lenses could use them on the newer M series cameras.
You may have noticed that the earlier M series black Bakelite rear lens caps have three odd tabs moulded on their outer back. Did you ever wonder why? They were actually a three tab wrench! Occasionally the 1mm ring converting bayonet to screw mount got stuck on the camera. This ‘wrench’ could make fast work of removing the ring. Of course, if the ring was stuck to the lens, a cloth between hand and ring made short work of freeing it up.
Also, most rings are marked with a lens focal length. The ring would lock in the correct bright line in the viewfinder of the M series camera corresponding to the chosen lens! Anyone not that fussy could use any of this line of rings to convert a screw mount lens (and some lens accessories) to bayonet mount Leicas.
Leotax version of a Leica screw mount camera post WW2
Toronto. After WW2, the Japanese optical industry tried to get in to the mighty American retail market. One option was to copy German cameras at much lower prices. This was the choice that Showa Kogaku made (later this maker became Leotax before disappearing in the early 1960s).
Showa Kogaku had practice – its cameras were first manufactured during WW2 copying the Leica II and III. The Leotax camera shown here is in the 2000 serial number range and is marked ‘Leotax special’ by ‘Showa Kogaku’ on the top plate.
The lens body and mount imitate the design of the f/3.5 5cm Elmar. The lens is engraved as the ‘Letana Anastigmat’ with same speed and focal length as the Elmar. A worthy addition to collections featuring Leica copies. Don’t have one? Terrific! There is one in the Port Colborne auction this weekend, complete with a leather case needed for its strap (no strap lugs on this version).
NB. The auction is in the memory of the late John Kantymir whose collection is the source of the pieces to be auctioned.
A sample lot of images in this weekend’s auction
Toronto. PHSC Auctioneer and President Lewko (Clint) Hryhorijiw dropped off the last group of auction lots for this weekend at Port Colborne.
This slide show is the third huge batch of lots that Clint has photographed and organized – and the two day auction promises to be a most memorable event. Both rare items and user items – attractive to film and digital folk alike – (eg. photographs, cameras, lenses, accessories, and books, etc.) are in the many lots. Come on down/up to the Port and enjoy this event. Add some great items to your collection or user gear!
Please note that while everyone is welcome, there will be no consignment lots at the door as all lots are from the collection of the late Bill Kantymir and his late son John. – first come first serve.
PS. click on and check out this poster for the time and place of the Kantymir collection auction this Saturday and Sunday.
This is our final post of sample lot photos (another 150+ items). The slide show was compiled with the help of an app called Exhibeo 2. Click on the sample images photo below, then on the lot shown in the upper left and then on any lot icon to see it larger. Your left/right arrows will work to move from one enlarged photo to another. Enjoy!
A sample lot from the June 25-26 auction in Port Colborne
PS. No need to search elsewhere – the two slide shows of lots loaded a few days ago are at this link and this link. Both links have been repeated here for your convenience.
Schacht-Travenar f/4 135mm lens in Lordomat breech lens mount.
Toronto. This is a second lens from the 1950s for use on the Lordomat. Remember that the Lordomat was made in Wetzlar by a company called called Leidolf who produced high quality 35mm cameras. This lens is an f/4, 135mm focal length with an odd breech mount. The lens is designated a Schacht-Travenar 1:4/135.
Schacht was an optical company at the time and made many varieties of the Travenar in various focal lengths and for various cameras. The company is not shown in the few books I have nor is there much reference material online.
This version of the telephoto design (i.e lens to film distance at infinity is shorter than the focal length) was made for the Lordomat camera. The lens has a special breech lens mount. The sturdy little chrome and black lens has the rear elements imbedded in the camera when focussed to infinity.
P.S. Did you know the auction in Port Colborne this weekend has a lovely version of this lens for the Lordomat in an original brown leather case and strap. The case is stamped “Lordomat” on the lid and “Made in Germany” on the bottom.
Toronto. We are in the home stretch of our first ever auction outside Toronto. The auction is a two day event held on June 25 and 26 featuring lots from the Kantymir collection. You may have seen Bill or his son John and their families at our fairs with tables of wonderful antique cameras and lenses and photographs and accessories for the collectors and more modern versions for the active photographers amongst us – both film and digital.
Through the efforts of our president and auctioneer, Lewko (Clint) Hryhorijiw, A second huge batch of lots has been photographed. This two day auction promises to be most memorable with both rare items and user items for both film and digital folk – photographs, cameras, lenses, accessories, books, and more. Come on down/up to the Port and enjoy this event while adding to your collection or user gear!
While everyone is welcome, there will be no consignment lots at the door as all lots are from the Kantymir collection – first come first serve.
This is our second post of sample lot photos (another 200+ items). The slide show was compiled with the help of an app called Exhibeo 2. Click on the lot montage photo below, then on the lot shown in the upper left and then on any lot icon to see it larger. Your left/right arrows will work to move from one enlarged photo to another. Enjoy!
Auction June 25 & 26 in Port Colborne, Ontario. Click montage to see a second slide show
PS. No need to search elsewhere – the slide show of lots loaded a few days ago is at the ink repeated here for your convenience..
A Schacht Travenar 35mm lens for the Lordomat
Toronto. If you like watching old movies, you have likely seen the famous Automat cafeteria in NYC. These automated restaurants were threatened and often ‘ate’ up by by the growth of fast food outlets.
Sadly our camera industry was no different than the food industry. In the 1950s, when camera companies jostled one another for retail sales, a small German firm in Wetzlar called Leidolf produced high quality 35mm cameras to compete on the open market. An interesting story; at one time Leidolf made parts for Leitz before competing with them by manufacturing cameras. The company was absorbed by Wild Heerbrug who were later absorbed by Leitz – small world. The Canadian branch of Leitz was known as Wild-Leitz in the 1970s.
This coated lens is an f/3.5 35mm focal length with an odd breech mount. The lens is designated a Schacht-Travenar 1:3.5/35. Schacht was an optical company at the time and made many varieties of the 35mm Travenar. For the Lordomat camera, the lens was placed in a breech lens mount. The sturdy little chrome and black lens has the rear elements imbedded in the camera.
Did you know the auction in Port Colborne this weekend has a lovely version for the Lordomat in an original brown leather case and strap. The case is stamped “Lordomat” on the lid and ‘Made in Germany’ on the bottom.
c1931-2 5cm f/2.5 Hektor lens
Toronto. The 5cm, f/2.5 Hektor was the first ‘fast’ lens produced by Leitz for the Leica. The mount was much like its stable-mate. the 5cm, f/3.5 Elmar. About 10,000 were made, most before 1938. Production records show the beginning year was 1931, but some sources say a few were made in late 1930. Leitz made some that were camera specific. Very early none standard Hectors were not rangefinder coupled either.
Later in 1931 the so called Standard Leica was made with a standard distance from film to lens flange and from then on all lenses became interchangeable with all camera bodies. The lens mount and lenses were stamped with a tiny letter ‘O’ to signify usability of standard lenses.
If you want a 5cm Hektor for your collection, the June 25 & 26 auction in Port Colborne has one with an authentic front lens cap and marked with the small ‘O’.