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Is this authentic?

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42 minutes ago, Universalb50 said:

How could one tell it was a fake?

As a non-expert, I would think the serial number and Factory records would give a good, if not definitive, view.

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Well, the fakes based on AUTHENTIC Leica bodies are a field of itself , which has its experts on both sides (fakers and investigators… B)) , and there are several examples:

- Real Leica I (they aren't rare)  made Luxus (s/n are published, but not impossible to fake when one has anyway to re-plate the body)  

- Real IIIa made Military  (the exact s/n are not  definitely assessed, and the original writings are of several kinds)

- Real III/IIIa  made Leica 250 FF/GG  ( s/n are published, but in this case faking the s/n is the easy task in respect to the whole job)

- And also (some cases were scrutinized also in the forum) real M3 made MP or simply "M3 black paint")

And others… and not always to fake : my former oldand very worn M2 , in the hands of a LUF member, is now an excellent and superfine M2 black paint, keeping its original s/n and with no willl to deceive anyone… :)

 

 

Edited by luigi bertolotti

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Only  Leicas Luftwaffen- Eigentum, WH, M (not all), are recorded with lenses by Leitz factory it seems to me
For all others, the opinion of an expert is necessary  and somes could pass even for authentic and only the authors of these fakes could say it.

The paintings of great painters have often been copied and the greatest experts have been deceived, I think for cameras it's the same thing

 Unfortunately,  what is expensive has a great chance of being copied or made up

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My recent article from the UK Leica Society magazine may aid the discussion here.

William

 

Third page will follow in another post. The posting size rules here are impossible to follow. Either that or the systems are broken. I have only uploaded 600kb and yet the system tells me that I have up uploaded over 1 Mb. It has been like this for some time. So apologies to readers.

William

 

 

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Hopefully, the third page will appear here:

 

Something needs to be done about the uploading facility here. Even for paying Premium members like myself, the system is unbelievably clunky and has a mind of its own about file sizes.

William

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Early on, though not my first camera, in "accumlating" LTM Leicas I purchased a camera similar to this one....although a Luftwaffe edition. Mine, too, is gold plated but with snake skin cover. Additionally, it came with a gold cap having red velvet lining. Quite the elegant little camera. Even it it is a fake. I have had some fun with it as it is operable. In fact, I was considering the start of an accumulation of the various gold plated fakes, but noticed they are now priced at about three times the price I paid for mine. So......In my opinion: (1 the bad news is that it IS an impostor; 2) the good news is that these impostors do seem to have some investment value.

Isn't it amazing how many of these ancient, fake Leicas still include the lens cap.? The hit ratio on this must be 50 or 60 percent higher than with authentic Leica LTM camers/lenses. :)

Thanks for the great pics. Enjoy the camera.

Best,

Wayne

Edited by Wayne

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On 12/23/2019 at 3:33 PM, willeica said:

My recent article from the UK Leica Society magazine may aid the discussion here.

William

Many thanks for sharing!

One thing I'm curious about is when the fakes started to be produced. You seem to imply that the fakes may have been made in parallel with cameras bearing authentic FSU branding, but my assumption has always been that the fakery was an aftermarket modification, perhaps done many years after the original production, and had nothing to do with the FED and Zorki factories (at least not officially). I suppose I've always imagined a cottage industry that perhaps dates back to around the time the Iron Curtain fell, opening a new market for superficially convincing fakes in the West. The common stripped brass finish (as above) would in this case not just be an attempt to imitate a Luxus, but also a result of lazily removing the original branding (if you grind off the engravings, you'll expose some of the brass anyway, so it's probably easier to strip it all off and not bother re-plating or painting). Of course, given the clandestine nature of their production, documentation on the history of these cameras may be somewhat lacking...

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12 hours ago, Anbaric said:

Many thanks for sharing!

One thing I'm curious about is when the fakes started to be produced. You seem to imply that the fakes may have been made in parallel with cameras bearing authentic FSU branding, but my assumption has always been that the fakery was an aftermarket modification, perhaps done many years after the original production, and had nothing to do with the FED and Zorki factories (at least not officially). I suppose I've always imagined a cottage industry that perhaps dates back to around the time the Iron Curtain fell, opening a new market for superficially convincing fakes in the West. The common stripped brass finish (as above) would in this case not just be an attempt to imitate a Luxus, but also a result of lazily removing the original branding (if you grind off the engravings, you'll expose some of the brass anyway, so it's probably easier to strip it all off and not bother re-plating or painting). Of course, given the clandestine nature of their production, documentation on the history of these cameras may be somewhat lacking...

Thanks. The purpose behind my article ( which was shown to both Jim Lager and Lars Netopil before publication) was to demystify the area, particularly as regards the difference between copies and fakes. As regards copies, Leica has never really pursued the issue of many different copies which have appeared over the years, despite having copyrights. There were, of course, reasons for this, not least the inability to enforce copyrights in the Soviet Union and then the cancellation of German copyrights after WW II by the victorious Allies. There is now  a considerable market for early Soviet copies which now often sell for considerably more than their Leica equivalents at auction, including Leitz Photographica Auction which is owned by Leica AG.

Fakes are cameras which purport to be Leicas, but which are not. I have not done forensic analysis of the production of such cameras, but I have no reason to believe that the production of such cameras commenced with the 'Fall of the Iron Curtain'. They are still being produced and I saw some pristine 'Leicas' in the tourist trap shops in Arbat Street in Moscow last year. Most of the fakes I have seen have been based on Soviet/Russian models. Whether they were 'conversions' or 'originals' does not really matter, but it strikes me that it would be easier to make these up from existing parts than to convert existing cameras. Military fakes fall into two categories, (a) fake cameras with so-called 'military markings' and (b) genuine cameras to which fake military markings have been added. My advice in the article is that research is essential before making any expensive purchases and, if still in doubt, the experts, such as Lager and Netopil, should be consulted.

My article was somewhat motivated by the many requests for confirmation, about whether cameras are genuine, which pop up on this forum every year with the same inevitable answers. My only advice to anyone is to 'get to know about Leicas' before making a purchase. After that, it really is a case of caveat emptor.

I'll finish by noting that Leica military fakes proudly sit in glass cases in the hallway of Leica AG in Wetzlar. Make of that what you will.

William

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On 12/25/2019 at 10:00 AM, willeica said:

Fakes are cameras which purport to be Leicas, but which are not. I have not done forensic analysis of the production of such cameras, but I have no reason to believe that the production of such cameras commenced with the 'Fall of the Iron Curtain'. They are still being produced and I saw some pristine 'Leicas' in the tourist trap shops in Arbat Street in Moscow last year. Most of the fakes I have seen have been based on Soviet/Russian models. Whether they were 'conversions' or 'originals' does not really matter, but it strikes me that it would be easier to make these up from existing parts than to convert existing cameras.

I guess my assumption that these are conversions of existing cameras rather than new builds really comes down to the availability of materials. The FED and Zorki Leica II copies were produced in very large numbers up until the mid 50s, when more 'modern' designs were introduced, and can still be acquired cheaply in former Soviet countries. Were any made later than this on a large scale? If not, then complete cameras are probably at this point much easier to get hold of than complete sets of parts, and the conversion process would be pretty easy. To produce something like the camera in this thread from a FED or Zorki branded original would only require a screwdriver, a Dremel and a bucket of acid, easier than building a camera from scratch even if you had the parts. Re-plating would be a bit more work, but could produce a more convincing fake (bare brass is an instant alarm bell). I imagine that a carefully done, nicely finished recent fake would look 'new', despite being based on a camera that might be over 60 years old.

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You are assuming that such fakes are ‘one offs’. I would think that most fakes were more likely produced on assembly lines either inside or outside of factories in the Soviet Union or with the connivance of factory officials. ‘One off ‘ fakes are more likely to have been the more lucrative models, such as Luftwaffen Eigentum, where there would be a proportionate reward for the effort required. I don’t know any of this for certain, but I am just applying  a degree of economic to such situations.

William

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On 12/28/2019 at 5:24 PM, willeica said:

You are assuming that such fakes are ‘one offs’. I would think that most fakes were more likely produced on assembly lines either inside or outside of factories in the Soviet Union or with the connivance of factory officials. ‘One off ‘ fakes are more likely to have been the more lucrative models, such as Luftwaffen Eigentum, where there would be a proportionate reward for the effort required. I don’t know any of this for certain, but I am just applying  a degree of economic to such situations.

William

I didn't mean to imply they were all one offs, just to suggest how easy it would be to create a fake from a FED/Zorki by removing the engravings and adding new ones, re-finishing if you want a chrome finish, leaving the brass if you want that fake Luxus look or don't want to waste time & money re-plating. This is a very cheap and trivial process you could do in your garage, but easy to scale up if you have a stock of 'honest' Soviet Leica II copies (and there doesn't seem to be much shortage of these even today). I don't think there's much doubt that at least some of the fakes were made this way, especially the low-grade brass finish versions and those that were obviously done quite recently. But were any made at the factory during mainstream production? If so, we'd expect to find evidence of fakes turning up much earlier than the 1980s. Digging around a little, I found an article by Oscar Fricke from 1979 I'd come across before, but had forgotten it contained this claim:

https://www.fedka.com/Useful_info/Commune_by_Fricke/commune_A.htm

'While under the administration of the NKVD, the Dzerzhinsky Commune did something which is perhaps unique in the annals of camera history; it copied the Leica in name as well as form. The FED was already a physical copy of the Leica, but some of the cameras were also engraved with the familiar 'Leica' trademark, and some f3·5 lenses were engraved 'Leitz Elmar'. Whatever the motivation, this strange practice persisted over several years, during which an apparently sizeable number of cameras was made. Beyond any shortcomings in workmanship, the give-away features of these cameras was the distinctive FED viewfinder window. The earliest known 'counterfeit Leica' was manufactured in 1936, while the most common year seems to be 1938.'

The date of the article confirms that such fakes were known in at least the late Soviet era, and Fricke is claiming that they originated at the FED factory. However, the following year he reconsidered the evidence:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03087298.1980.10441149?journalCode=thph20

'On a related point, I may have been too strong in stating that the making of 'counterfeit Leicas' was the work of the commune (p. 147 of the article). While it has been assumed by collectors that such counterfeiting was actually done when the cameras were manufactured, this has no substantiation. It is evident that many counterfeit Leicas were created by outsiders, either in the Soviet Union or in other parts of the world. This is suggested by re-evaluation of a number of such cameras. First, the actual counterfeit engravings seem to vary widely in both style and quality. Second, the chrome finish on the engraved parts of these cameras also varies, and is often discernibly different from the finish on unengraved parts and on normal FEDs. Crude forgeries have also been encountered. The variations and different finishes suggest that these cameras were re-engraved and refinished at perhaps many different locations, the work of individual 'craftsmen' seeking to transform FEDs into more prestigious and expensive `Leicas' to pass on to the unwary. So the existence of the FED did lead to the appearance of some counterfeit Leicas, but the counterfeiters were anonymous, and probably diverse.'

This is much more in line with what I'd assumed (or perhaps unconsciously absorbed - I now see his later note is appended to the copy of the article on the Fedka site). So is this, then, the whole story? Maybe not quite. The Camera-wiki and Camerapedia sites contain the following remarkable but unfortunately unsourced claim in their articles on the NKVD FED:

http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/FED_NKVD
https://camerapedia.fandom.com/wiki/FED_(Original)_(_FED_NKVD,_FED-S,_FED-1)

'From early on, a few oddities exist as well, including a counterfeit Leica II, discovered by the German army when occupying the Kharkov factory in 1941. However, the finish alone reveals the forgery.'

I'd love to know the source of this claim and whether it, or other early fakes, are reliably documented (NB: I don't think the sentence about 'this fascinating camera' refers specifically to the fake, but rather to the NKVD FED in general - there's a paragraph break in an earlier version of the camerapedia article, and the Camera-wiki version inserts another paragraph after the quote above). The production of factory fakes, officially or otherwise, would be a much more interesting story than a cottage industry catering to uninformed tourists at flea markets.

Edited by Anbaric

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On 12/23/2019 at 4:40 AM, Universalb50 said:

...How could one tell it was a fake?

For me, the ham fisted "craftsmanship" of the camera is a dead giveaway, as is the crude engraving. 

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