The Elisabetta &

L. David Tomei


Classic Camera Collection


Roma, Italy







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A collection of vintage and classic cameras and accessories from 1890 through 1990


Please click on the links below to view the individual cameras in the collection



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References, resources and acknowledgments


Agfa Ansco No.1A Readset Royal Ostrich Grain c1928

Agfa Ansco No.1 Readyset Royal Silver Fox c1931

Agfa Karat 6.3 Art Deco 1937-38

Argus C 1938

Argus Cameras 1938-58

Argus C2/C3 Bausch & Lomb Lens 1939

Argus FA 1950-51

Certo Dollina I 1935-39

Certo Dollina II 1936

Certo Super Dollina II 1956

Clarus Camera Mfg. Co.1946-52

Ducati Sogno c1950

Ensign Speed Reflex 1929

Ernemann Heag XII 1906

Fuji Kogaku Baby Lyra c1941

Gallus Stereo 1920

Gallus Derlux 1947-50

Green Camera Works c1950

Kombi 1892

Konishiroku Baby Pearl 1934

Merkel Minerva Tropical c1923

Minolta 35 1947

Murer's Newness Express SL c1900

Nicca 3-S 1954

Nikon S3 Commemorative 2000 

Perfex Speed Candid 1938-39

Perfex Twenty-Two 1942-45

Periflex 1953

Q.R.S. Kamra 1928

Ray Special Folding Camera c1898

Reflex-Korelle II 1939

Ruberg and Renner Dixi c1932

Rochester Cycle Poco 1897-99

Thalhammer Tripods 1912-c41

Universal Camera Corp. Iris 1938

Well Standard Model I c1939-40

Welmy 6x6 1953

My home in the mountains south of Roma 


Zeiss Ikon Cameras

Zeiss Ikon Contax I 1932-36

Zeiss Ikon Contax II 1936-42

Zeiss Ikon Contax III 1936-42

Zeiss Ikon Super Nettel (536/24) 1935-37

Zeiss Ikon Contessa (533/24) 1953-55

Leica Cameras

Leica II(D) 1932-48

Leica III(F) 1934-39

Leica IIIa(G) 1935-48

Leica III (military engraving) c1937-40 

Leica IIIc Red Blind 1940-41

Leica IIIf Black Dial1951-52

Leica If "Black" Dial c1951

Leica IIf Red Dial 1952-53

Leica IIIf Red Dial ST 1955

Leica lenses (Normal & Wide Angle)

Leica Lenses (Long)

Leica Accessories

Leica II(D) Wismut inlaid engraving

Leica engraving 1932-53


Kodak Cameras

Kodak No.4 Cartridge 1897

Kodak No.1A Folding Pocket 1899-1905

Kodak No.2 FPK 1904-07

Kodak Folding Brownie Models 1904-15

Kodak No.4 Folding Pocket 1907-15

Kodak Vest Pocket 1912-26

First Coupled RF cameras 1916

Kodak Vest Pocket Special 1926-35

Kodak Vanity 1928

Kodak 1A Pocket 1929-32

Kodak Petite 1929-34

Kodak Boy Scout 1929-34

Kodak Recomar 33 1932-40

Kodak Six-20 UK Model C 1933-37 

Kodak Six-16 1934-36

Kodak Bantam models 1935-53

Kodak 3A Series II 1936-41

Kodak Bantam Special 1936-48

Kodak Retina Type 141 1937-39

Kodak Suprema 1938-39

Kodak Retinette Type 147 1939

Kodak Retinette Type 160 1939

Kodak Retina Type 149 1939

Kodak Ektra 1941

Kodak 3A Series III 1941-43

Kodak 35 Military 1941-43

Kodak Retinette Type 012 1949-51

Kodak Signet 35 USAF 1952

Kodak Gallery 1899-1950


More Cameras

More of the collection (A-K)

Movie Cameras



Special Projects 

Accessory rangefinders & viewfinders 

Lens Performance Images

 Lenses, coatings, conceptions and misconceptions 

 Miscellaneous ramblings and opinions 



Image Gallery


 Links to some of the friends of this site.









A Comment of this Site:  This site first appeared in May, 2008, and now consists of 95 individual pages.  I must admit I did not expect that many would ever see it.  However, since it was uploaded to the Internet in May, 2008, there have been over 66,000 pageviews from about 24,000 unique visitors located in 118 countries using 76 languages.  Now, that does not compare with the popular sites but for me it is very gratifying.  It tells me that there is an interest in classic and vintage cameras that crosses over many cultures and languages in a day when photography is dominated by the new digital cameras.  

After a long search, I finally found an elusive and rare Bausch & Lomb 75mm f/5.6 Telephoto lens that was built specifically for the Argus C2/C3.  Very few of these lenses were built by B&L for a brief time during 1939.  It can be seen at Argus B&L Telephoto lens.

History of the Ruberg & Renner cameras:  Often we see small simple Ruberg & Renner cameras on auctions most of which are rather worn and more often than not in poor condition.  Collectors may wonder why they hold such fascination and interest.  I would recommend an excellent and well researched article by Willi Wilhelm published in Photographica Cabinett (vol.44, pp.33-45, 2008).  Even for those who may not read German, the article provides an invaluable resource in its tabulated data and photographs of the many models that were produced including those of exceptional rarity.

There has been a lot written about the history of cameras, especially that of the Leica.  However, little has been said about the engraving techniques used by Leitz over the decades.  There are two areas of interest regarding engraving techniques used on Leica cameras: First, the tool marks left behind by the engraver which vary quite a lot (see Leica engraving characterisics).  Second, for the early black lacquered Leica's of the 1930's, Leitz did not use simple open engraving, nor did they fill the engravings with paint as other companies did such as Zeiss Ikon.  Instead, Leitz used a fine, costly technique that created extremely high quality markings on their cameras.  (See Early Leica Wismut inlaid engraving).

Also, think that Leitz had to resort to making IIIc shutters from red parachutes due to wartime shortages?  See Leica IIIc Red Blind 1940-41 for perhaps accurate and not so accurate explanations for these now uncommon examples.

 Also,  the 1933 Chicago Century of Progress Exposition shot with a 1928 Q.R.S. Kamra, and more on that techno-deco wonder, the 1938 Iris from Univex.

Ever wonder about those Thalhammer tripods seen occasionally on eBay?  Meet Karl Thalhammer.

The Reflex Korelle of 1939 is much more than an historically important camera design.  It was the creation of Franz Kochmann, a creative, energetic man whose world was taken from him by the Nazis.  See Reflex-Korelle 1939.   

Finally, a bit more on John E. Woodbury who designed the first coupled range finder in 1914 which was soon adopted by Kodak in 1915.


One doesn't usually aspire to become a collector of anything in particular.  Normally you wake up to find that you have accumulated a lot of something in particular, in my case, old cameras.  Then one will either seek help, counseling, or just unapologetically accept it and go on to figure out what you are going to do with it.  In the case of old cameras, I find that building a museum is beyond the scope of my current options.  As a consequence, I turn to the Internet to provide a means of displaying the collection that is, for the most part, nestled in bubble wrap.

Old cameras deserve conservation and protection from continuing degeneration.  Old leather bellows and covers need to be cleaned and preserved using the right materials such as British Museum Leather Dressing and formulations based upon pure bees wax which provides effective control over mold and mildew.  Old red leather bellows are chromic acid tanned and should never be treated with oil-based products.  For useful information I would encourage anyone interested in conservation of leather to go to and further references.  Lenses, mirrors, viewfinders, rangefinders, all should be cleaned whenever possible.  Optical components can easily be damaged, so a serious collector should learn the basics of maintaining optics.  Search out advice only from those who have had verifiable professional training, avoid chat-room opinions, and buy the right tools.  For long-term storage, cameras and lenses should be sealed with silica gel packets to minimize humidity.  However, consider that even clean plastic bags will slowly evolve residual chemicals that can eventually deposit on optical surfaces.

It could be persuasively argued that the camera has changed mankind to an extent greater than any other single human achievement of the past millennium.  Of course, statements like this are purely rhetorical normally.  However, the capture of images from the world and of daily life has changed the way human beings conceive of the world.  Today we take for granted the images that surround us in all aspects of life yet only little more than a century ago a photograph of people simply walking on the street became the subject of front page newspaper headlines.  In 1859 the first photographs of pedestrians on the streets of Edinburgh and New York caused a great public uproar.  Oliver Wendall Holmes commented on the fact that one could find examples of pedestrians "in every stage of the complex act" of walking.  In an age of digital imaging and computer image processing software, you can still find arguments over whether or not photographs should be manipulated - arguments that are basically indistinguishable from those that raged over 150 years ago.  Photographic technology evolves but I suppose people don't in some ways.

Peer review seems to have fallen by the wayside on the Internet making it more important than ever to find ways to verify and maintain accuracy. Today we rely on the imperfect method of waiting for feedback to correct errors and add missing details contained on web sites.  This site is dependent on such feedback and should not tacitly be accepted as a source of accurate information without proper skepticism.

Interspersed on these pages are some of our photographs taken with various cameras.  However, I consider the photographs to be quite separate and distinct from the tools used in their creation.  To do otherwise would be tantamount to showing an expensive paint brush next to a painting as if the quality of one were related to that of the other.  Good photographers can produce great photographs with basic cheap cameras.  Whereas, those of us with more modest talent can produce poor photographs with the very finest camera.  Compare great combat photographers such as Robert Capa, George Rodger, and Tony Vaccaro.  Capa and Rodger bought their Leica and Contax cameras with other people's money; Vaccaro bought his own which happened to be an Argus C3.  None the less, I challenge anyone to show me how Capa's or Rodger's photos were superior to those of Vaccaro as a consequence of their choice of camera.

As a collector, I must admit to having no particular inclination toward specialization, nor do I feel a need to become an expert on any one type of camera, manufacturer, or period of time (even though I certainly admire that in others).  I'm a generalist and enjoy the wide variety of designs that characterize the evolution and progression from the early cameras of the 1890's through to the precision cameras of the 1950's. 

That creativity and personal expression that marked the first 100 years of camera design seriously diminished by the late 1950's with the advent of the successful Japanese SLR design.  Although a few notably unusual designs appeared in the 1950's through 1980's, such as the Dial-35 (Canon), designs that deviated from a certain norm were largely ignored in the marketplace.  Exceptionally fine companies like Leitz and Zeiss Ikon misinterpreted the market in those days and were late to introduce their versions of the SLR, a delay that cost them market share from which they arguably never recovered.  Consequently, the Leica and ZI rangefinder cameras of the 1950's through 1980's are actually highly prized and sought after by photographers and collectors alike in part because they are different and reflect a precision and marketable quality that was rapidly going out of style by 1970.

With the emergence of the basic SLR pioneered by Nikon, Minolta, Pentax and others, camera design had by then already passed through a half century of experimentation - a Darwinian process of evolution not only in technical terms but also in style.  Ergonomics commonly took a back seat to style in comparison with 21st century cameras. 

Keen competition arose in the 1930's between companies like Zeiss Ikon and Leitz which in turn gave rise to different designs rather than imitation of each other's designs.  In those times small companies could launch bold new designs of cameras and enter a market already occupied by hundreds of manufacturers rather than the handful that remain today.  Meanwhile, large companies like Kodak and Zeiss Ikon maintained production of a bewildering array of camera models, some high-end models firmly rooted in the 19th century (e.g. Kodak 3A Series III) simultaneously with others at the leading edge of technology (e.g. Kodak Ektra). 

Between about 1900 and 1950, entrepreneurs and designers brought to the market cameras from Clarus, Perfex, Periflex and so many others, some of which are shown here in this collection.  In Japan there was a remarkable proliferation of small camera companies competing from 1911 through about 1960.  Cameras like the Well Standard Model I and Green Camera in this collection are examples of the many small, often short-lived Japanese camera manufacturers.  The history of the Japanese camera industry is very often ignored and it is tacitly assumed that the advent of the Japanese SLR marked the beginning of the industry in Japan.  The past hundred years hold a rich heritage in Japan, one of experimental designs and continuous evolution, coalescence, ultimately leading to the emergence of a very few dominant manufacturers today.

 Although some of the cameras in the collection may be uncommon or perhaps even rare, the prime goal of this collection is to preserve an example of a broad range of cameras with particular attention to their design contributions and technological innovations, some successful but not necessarily so.


Many of the photos of cameras shown here are old, taken with my long  deceased P&S Toshiba solely for my own personal records.  As time permits, I intend to re-shoot all the cameras and post technically improved images to the best of my ability.


Any of the cameras in this collection may be considered available for sale or trade with other collectors.  However, I am not in the business of selling cameras though I am interested in expanding and improving the quality of the collection through selling and trading. 



Copyright Note:  Unless otherwise indicated as having been licensed from the proper copyright holder, all images contained in all pages linked on this site are the creative works of Elisabetta and L. David Tomei and therefore may come under the Fair Use provisions of applicable copyright laws.  If you wish to use any of the images to which we hold legal copyright contained on these pages, please inform me and I will be pleased to provide high resolution jpg images only after receipt of your request.  All images contain digital watermarks for identification purposes.