Riga Minox #01401 - A Counterfeit!

Upon first glance this Riga Minox looks like the collector's dream find.  It would be the 402nd camera made and includes the very rare VEF scroll engraving and the "Pat. app." on the bottom as shown in the photo above.  Then one looks a little closer.

In the photo above we see that the end cap is the later, one screw style cap with the dull finish.  The early Riga cameras had two screws and a polished, almost mirror-like finish.  These parts are not interchangeable as the chassis would have to be made to accept either one or two screws.  Also, if you look carefully the depth of field mark at the focus dial is the later style dot with the line, not the early mark.

In the photo above you can see the engraving over the lens cover is on the diagonal, also only seen on the late model cameras.

In the photo above, the serial number is very bright white, not faded (and yellowish) like most older painted numbers, it is of a slightly different font than the early serial numbers (the 0 is wider, more like an O than a 0) and most interestingly does not have the "No" engraving which would be expected in an early camera.  In other words, the engraving should have read: "No 01401".  Only the later cameras used just a plain number like this one.  Also, the catch which keeps the sliding film compartment cover closed is the later style catch, again not interchangeable with the early style chassis.  The early style catch has a narrower slot which engages with the sliding plate.  This means that the bottom plate, which has the fancy engraving was a later style part (otherwise it would not work with the later catch). 

This camera was purchased from a dealer who bought it from a dealer in Riga Latvia.  I suspect it was very recently made, probably from a chassis left over after the end of production, one which had no serial number engraved in it or which had the serial number filled and re-engraved.  Several cameras without bottom engravings have recently been seen on ebay, so maybe one of them was "converted" into this early-looking piece.  There is so much about this piece which is indicative of a late model camera that it is impossible for it to be genuine, so take note, in case you are offered "a collector's dream" which turns out to be a nightmare.  Caveat Emptor!

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