Unusual Variants of Common Models

I have arranged these unusual variants of common models in the approximate order of their original production (by serial number at least).  I hope you enjoy seeing some of the harder to find ones and hearing about them so you can look for them yourself!  You can scroll down this page or click on the following links to jump to specific items which have been bookmarked. 

The 85th Minox Made in Germany  A Minox II With a Story  The Black Trinity  The 165th Minox C Made 
The FI Triplets  The Minox Lens B  The Black BL   Black and Chrome BL/IIIs Hybrid - A Minoxdoc Exclusive!   Gold Plated A In Its Original Presentation Box!
Gold Plated Minox B    A Copper Colored IIIs


The 85th Minox Made in Germany

There's nothing really unusual about this camera, except its serial number is #20 084 which makes it the 84th post-war production camera made in Wetzlar (numbering started with 20 001).  I was lucky enough to find it as you see it; nearly mint in its original box with a beautiful early dark brown/black leather case and chain.  If you look closely you can see the black shutter blade with the large silver dot in the middle which is the original for this camera.  In fact, the entire camera is as it rolled off the assembly line, with its original non-retracting yellow and green filters and fifth element "film lens" intact.  Except for a CLA (Clean, Lube and Adjustment) it needed nothing to be put back in good working order.

As an update to this story, early in 2009 I acquired an even EARLIER Minox II, the 29th made:

 

It is a metric scaled camera, found in the UK.  Sadly, this one was bought non-functioning and has no box with it but surely must be the earliest Post-War Minox known it exist today...very exciting!  I am going to restore it to its original condition and keep it in the collection as a landmark camera...until I find one with an earlier serial number that is!

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A Minox II With a Story

I bought this camera from the Leica Shop in Vienna from its listing which was "Minox A #24 494".  I figured it would turn out to be a II which had been "upgraded" to a III or IIIs at a later date, but still would be an interesting camera to own as the early ones are hard to come by.   This little camera turned out to be quite a surprise...it does indeed have the serial number 24 494 and its top plate is from that original camera, but everything else on the camera, including the chassis was from a much later era...notice it has the marking "Minox" in the lens compartment.  Officially, the factory never made a IIIs with a Minox lens, but this camera has one, indeed it also has the green/neutral density filters typical of a late IIIs and B camera too.  Apparently the original camera was "beyond repair" or so out of date that the factory took it upon themselves to salvage only the top plate and fit it to a 1970's vintage chassis, then the original serial number of 24 494 was engraved on it for the benefit of the owner.  The fact that they did this for VIP's was discovered when I told Don Goldberg about this camera and he told me that his father, who was a well known Leica service tech and wrote for camera magazines had his precious II "upgraded" when he visited the factory during the 1970's period.  He was quite surprised (apparently not too pleasantly surprised) to see what they had done to his camera which he only asked them to perform routine service on...well...they thought they were doing him a favor by giving him a "new camera".  Some Favor! Top


The Black Trinity

English?  Metric?  Who can decide...what the heck I'll take one of each...and throw in one of those black meters while you're at it...oh to be in a camera store in 1965!  Here we have some of the hardest to find variants of black Minox, the IIIs and meter.  I will tell you a secret...the cameras are fakes; they are chrome cameras which were re-anodized in black (I should know, I did it).  The meter, however is not a fake, but is an original black Minox meter, which is even rarer than the camera itself.  I could not find a real black camera at a reasonable price to match it so I made one...then I made another because who can stop with just one?  If you want to learn about the introduction of the black Minox IIIs go here: When did the Black IIIs come out?

Before you ask, NO, I will not make any more and will not sell these two...they were for my own use and enjoyment not for profit or resale...while I was at it I made this "frankenminox":

This one was purely for fun...a gold and black IIIs...even the folks at Minox in Germany were pleased to see this one.  They never made one like it - only I did!  Top


The 165th Minox C Made

This is Minox C #2300265 and is the 165th production C ever made (since production reportedly began at 2300101).  Most people know the early C's had the Complan Lens and later C's had the Minox lens.  Also, early C's had a white slow-speed warning light whereas the later ones had the red LED, but a feature of note on this very early model is the oversized window over the light meter cell.  I think only about the first thousand made had this.  If you see and early user manual for the C it too has this feature in the photos of the camera shown on the cover and throughout the text...keep an eye open for them!  Top


The FI Triplets

Here I am showing a Model C (Top), Model B (Middle) and the latest addition to my collection, a Model BL (Bottom) which are each marked with the special "FI" engraving.  The "FI" engraving  represents the name of the importer of Minox to Italy, FOWA, so it stands for FOWA Import.  Some people believed that it meant the cameras were "Fabricated in Italy" (hence "FI"), but  this is incorrect. 

The meaning of the "FI" marking has recently been confirmed by a representative of the FOWA firm who stated emphatically that no cameras were ever fabricated in Italy and the FI marking was intended "...to prevent irregular importation".  Minox began being imported into Italy officially by an exclusive agent in the late 1960's.  At that time the importing company's name was "FOTOEXAKTA" according to some documentation I have recently acquired from that period.  In 1970-71 the name of the company was changed to FOWA (FOWA is the acronym of FOtoexacta Winkler Aldo).  Either way the FI marking is simply the importer's mark to distinguish a particular "officially imported" camera from "grey market" imports.  Apparently you can find this FI marking on the 35mm models which were imported by FOWA too...something for the Minox 35mm collectors to look for.

Two of these (the B and C) came from the same Italian seller while the BL came from a dealer in Germany.  They are not easily found, especially the BL.  Top


The Minox Lens B

Here is one of my favorite variants of a common model.  At the end of the Minox Model B production the camera was converted to use the later "Minox" lens and the last 3,500 or so cameras (from about serial number 980,800 on) were marked with the Minox lens marker as is the one pictured above.  I say these last 3,500 were marked Minox lens but only about the last 800� (from about serial number 983,500 on) actually have the lens installed.  Those between 980,800� and 983,500� are marked with the Minox lens marking but if you look at the pressure plate in the film compartment you will see it is curved and therefore these cameras actually still use the Complan lens...so much for truth in advertising!  After about 983,500 the flat pressure plate begins to appear indicating that these cameras actually are equipped with the Minox lens.  I am guessing that they ran out of the plates marked "Complan" before they ran out of Complan equipped chassis so they continued to produce B's with Complan lenses which were mismarked until they used up the stock of Complan equipped chassis.  Both sub-variants are fairly rare since about 99% of the total run of B's is marked Complan.  It is an interesting little thing to watch for.  Personally, I think the Complan lens is superior to the Minox lens, but that's a topic for another page. 

Here is a photo comparing the pressure plates from two late "Minox" lens marked cameras, note the flat plate on the left is from the camera actually equipped with the "Minox" lens while the other has the curved plate of the Complan lens:

Another clue, which is more subtle is the front lens opening which is actually slightly larger in the true "Minox" lens camera (top) than in the one which is just marked "Minox" (bottom):

...And, pictured below is another really rare item...a BLACK "Minox" lens model B.  As you can see it is serial number 983 532 which is only about 800 numbers before the end of production of the Model B and it is a "true Minox lens" camera as noted by the flat pressure plate.

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The Black BL

Not much else to have to say...it is beautiful, elegant and rarer than the black B or C, but not as rare as the IIIs.

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A Black and Chrome Hybrid BL/IIIs and BL/III - Another Minoxdoc Exclusive

A Minox enthusiast I know asked me to turn his BL with a dead meter into a IIIs, but with a twist.  I have made several of the BL/IIIs hybrids before but never one with a black top plate like this one.  It's truly one of a kind.  Making a IIIs out of a BL chassis is nice in that it offers the owner all of the later innovations (free-wheeling film advance mechanism, ND filter and Minox lens) in the IIIs size package - a combination which Minox never offered in the IIIs. 

In this example it is really unique with its bi-color finish!  It turned out better than I had thought it would - it's a shame Minox never produced a IIIs like this.  The closest they came is the AX but its more modern styling turned off some traditional purists and they never produced anything in a bi-colored case other than the Gold and Black LX 2000.

A 2010 update:  The camera has been further modified, now into what is believed to be the worlds first and only Minox BL/III hybrid:

The owner requested this modification be made which did take some special custom changes to the chassis to accommodate the Minox III end pieces - this is now a truly unique and one of a kind camera!

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A Gold Plated A In Its Original Presentation Box!

I was fortunate enough to be asked to service this set.  It is an original gold plated Minox A (non-sync'd) in its original presentation box.  The box is really wonderful.  It is spring loaded and lined with blue velvet under the camera and case and silver satin inside the lid.  The outside is the grey "fuzzy" material used on many Minox packages in the 1950's.  Both the inside and outside of the lid have the Minox logo as shown.  It appears as though it was custom made for Minox by a fine jewelry box maker.  Oh how I wanted to buy this set!!!

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Gold Plated Minox B

Special thanks goes to Saitoh Masaharu of Japan for providing this series of photographs of the ultra-rare Minox Model B in Gold Plated finish.  I have been trying to locate one of these for my collection for years without success.  I am happy to be able to have these photos and to share them with others.  I am sure there were fewer gold model B's made than just about any other production camera and it is a lucky collector indeed who owns one of them. 

Here's a shot of the camera, case and some accessories in a very "sweet" box:

 

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A Copper Colored IIIs!

Just when I thought I had seen it all this came across my desk.  It's completely colored a sort of copper/peach color.  Every part is colored, the counter wheel, the chain lug (and the plunger inside the camera body) and even the flash sync mount, as shown. 

Its serial number is 137 562.  I don't know if this was a piece made by someone at the factory as a personal momento, or specially made for a particular customer, or maybe just some collector dabbled in anodizing did it but it is very professional and certainly a lot of time and effort went into it.  If anyone has another camera like this or knows of its story, please contact me at info@minoxdoc.com and tell me about it.  I always want to learn!

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