In this day and age, think of the term ‘Spy camera’ and you are greeted with visions of plastic kid’s pens and wearable cameras. These cameras may look like inconspicuous everyday objects, but in reality, they would not be of much use to any real spy.
Aston’s Auctioneers in Dudley have one of their regular camera sales coming up in July and with it comes an opportunity to buy a real spy camera. Up for auction are several spy cameras from a huge single-owner collection of Soviet cameras.
Tim Goldsmith, Photographic Consultant at Aston’s Auctioneers says “The end of the Soviet Union combined with advances in tiny digital cameras, means that this is probably one of the last opportunities for collectors to obtain a real, old style, film-based spy camera. In the sale we have several Minox cameras (the “James Bond” spy camera), including a rare Riga version, plus microfilming, fingerprinting & copying cameras and more, but the highlights are the several disguised spy cameras. These include cameras hidden in a man’s attaché case, a lady’s handbag and purse and even in an umbrella. My favourite however is a camera built into a man’s jacket, with the camera lens hidden behind one of the buttons and fired from a ‘trigger’ in the jacket pocket.”
“With all these options available to a spy, you would think THE last thing to disguise a camera as would be … a camera! But we even have a unique spy camera hidden in a camera case”.
This looks just like a run-of-the-mill Zenit model, but a secret is hidden inside, a F-21 spy camera for shooting at 90 degrees from where the case is pointing. The spy would simply walk around carrying the “Zenit” camera over their shoulder and even if they were in a location where photography was forbidden it would not be apparent that it was armed and ready to take a photograph – it was after all in a closed camera case. In use the spy would simply press a small button on the base, a tiny flap on the side of the camera case would open, the miniature camera inside would fire and the flap snap shut!
Certainly a gadget worthy of “Q”!
The Russian Collection auction, which features KGB spy & other sub-miniature cameras is on 12th July 2018 at Aston’s Auctioneers.