Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2006/04/11

[Author Prev] [Author Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Author Index] [Topic Index] [Home] [Search]

Subject: [Leica] Ted's "KGB camera"
From: raimo.m.korhonen at (Raimo K)
Date: Tue Apr 11 23:36:12 2006
References: <>

So that settles it: it is a real FED and never intended to be a Leica.
It is not a NKVD/KGB camera either, it is just inscribed with the name
of the manufacturer, the Trudkommuna... and OK, UCCP is USSR in Latin
It is an interesting piece of history.
All the best!
Raimo K
personal photography homepage at:

Quoting Peter Klein <>:

> Folks: Here's my take on Ted's camera, essentially a resend of my
> note to 
> Ted earlier this evening.  I'm not a Soviet camera expert, but I can
> read, 
> compare pictures, and my wife is a native Russian speaker.
> ------------
> Ted:
> Katya translated the inscription on the top plate.  Here it is, line
> by line:
> Labor Commune
> Named After
> F. E. Dzerzhinsky
> Kharkov
> Note:  NKVD-USSR stands for "People's Commissariat of Internal
> Affairs, 
> Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic."  Kharkov, you probably know, is
> a 
> large industrial city in Ukraine.
> The "Named After" syntax is standard in Russian.  For example, a
> friend of 
> mine graduated from the "First Leningrad Medical Institute named
> after I. 
> P. Pavlov."
> Your top plate inscription actually matches the Type 2 inscription of
> a 
> real FED shown on the Commie Cameras site. The serial number is about
> right 
> for a Fed 1b, second version, which the camera looks like to my
> untrained 
> eyes.  And the style of chrome on the top plate looks
> right--sandblasted 
> and chrome plated with a matte finish. But the top plate does look
> too new 
> for the camera, which should date from the mid-1930s.
> I was wrong about the NKVD inscription being a fake.  Some of these
> cameras 
> were actually engraved with the name of, essentially, the sponsor. 
> The 
> story is that Felix E. Dzerzhinsky, who founded the CHEKA (the first
> name 
> for the Soviet secret police), read a report about the problem of
> orphans 
> created by World War I and the Russian Revolution. And as Marc Small
> notes, 
> Dzerzhinsky and his cohorts contributed substantially to the supply
> of 
> orphans by their activities. At any rate, he put the resources of his
> organization behind solving the problem.  Essentially, in addition to
> committing large-scale murder and torture, Dzerzhinsky and his secret
> police also built the Soviet equivalent of Boys' Town.
> Dzerzhinsky died before the Kharkov labor commune opened, but it bore
> his 
> name, and the name of the sponsoring organization.  By the time your
> camera 
> was made, the secret police had been renamed the NKVD, hence the
> inscription.
> It may be that before you acquired the camera, the top plate was
> restored, 
> or a new one crafted to match the original.  That should be
> determined by a 
> real expert, as should the exact model number.  I'm just reading a
> Web site 
> and matching things by eye.
> See here for the story of the FED:
> And click on the first "FED" button on the left to see pictures of
> the 
> various types of FED cameras, and your matching engraving.
> You know what?  Throw a roll of Tri-X in that camera and see what
> comes 
> out.  The lens is probably very much like an uncoated Elmar.
> --Peter

Replies: Reply from pdzwig at (Peter Dzwig) ([Leica] Ted's "KGB camera")
Reply from tedgrant at (Ted Grant) ([Leica] Ted's "KGB camera")
In reply to: Message from pklein at (Peter Klein) ([Leica] Ted's "KGB camera")