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Incredible Fake Leicas
Ivan strikes again
Another profile talks about the fake Russian Leicas of 1996. These are the 1999 models. The first one here is a very nicely finished black enamel "Leica" IIIa "prototype" with "factory" back door loading! The finish, the engravings, the filled in lettering, the back door engineering, are all of a surprisingly high quality. The top plate says "Leica" complete with Leica style engravings and Luftwaffen military FI number. The lens says "Leitz Elmar" with Leitz style engravings. It is a very well done camera, though of course no Leica ever left the factory looking like this...but as attractive as this camera is...maybe that is too bad. These won't fool the experienced Leicanut, but they are certainly well done enough to fool Leica beginners.
Of course those wily wild and crazy Russians could not help but improve upon the breed. You will notice the occasional red engravings, that black Leicas never had. Also note the tan painted slow speed dial.
Holy shades of Wetzlar! This fake is so well done that it is not that hard to believe it might have been a son of Wetzlar.
Notice the lack of vulcanite or body covering, and the substitution of very well done crinkle black paint. The signature of the artist? There is definitely an ornate "B" inside the film chamber. Bruno?? If anyone knows who or where these "Leicas" originated, I would much appreciate being introduced to them.
The "Leitz Elmar" is quite well done.
2007 Update: Alas, the maker of these innovative copies seems to have disappeared about 2001, turning his efforts into real collectibles for Ruskie nuts.
Not content with mere Leica prototypes, our heroes went on to create a rather well done fake Luftwaffe. What is astounding about this camera to me is the VERY high quality of the chrome. It is much higher than I have ever seen on any Russian camera before. In fact, the chrome on this camera is good enough to pass with most people as original Leica! Believe it or don't.
Were it not for the lack of slow speeds, and the lack of vulcanite, I think this fake is good enough to fool the average photo dealer that only sees a knob wind Leica every six months or so.
Again, the "Elmar" is very well done, with nicely done engravings!
OK, which is the real Leica?
Revised: March 19, 2007 . Copyright © 1998-2002 Stephen Gandy. All rights reserved. This means you may NOT copy and re-use the text or the pictures in ANY other internet or printed publication of ANY kind. Information in this document is subject to change without notice. Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.