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Iura camera from 1930s (Pic: Wetzlar Camera Auctions)
Very few examples of this simple camera remain (Pic: Wetzlar Camera Auctions)

A rare 1930s Soviet camera made mostly of paper and wood is going on sale in the Wetzlar Camera Auctions in Germany in October.

The Iura camera is a simple 35mm camera designed to take cassette-free 35mm film and had a collapsible 75mm lens.

The camera resembles a simplified Leica, with a basic metal frame taking the place of a traditional viewfinder.

Thanks to being made from such fragile materials, the Iura is now an uncommon camera and the example being sold in October has a starting price of €15,000, and is expected to fetch as much as €30,000.

The Iura (Russian for “Little George”) was designed by D Bunimovitch and produced by a toy co-operative in Moscow between 1935 and 1937.

This uncommon Soviet camera joins a number of other Soviet rarities in the sale, one of the most established camera auctions in Europe.

This sale also includes a rare Arsenal FED Leica copy rangefinder camera made soon after World War II, before the Kiev-based Arsenal factory began making Contax-mount rangefinders using parts salvaged from the original factory in Germany.

FED Arnsenal camera (Pic: Wetzlar Camera Auctions)
The FED Arsenal was made for a brief period after World War II in the Kiev Arsenal plant (Pic: Wetzlar Camera Auctions)

Wetzlar Camera Auctions ‘listing said: “Extremely rare Leica copy of the second series of FED cameras assembled at the Arsenal factory, before the Kiev rangefinder camera was made. The Arsenal logo engraved without the hammer and sickle. The camera partly made of FED parts with some different features to the FED series production.

“Only a few cameras are known to date. An absolute rarity!”

The camera, which dates from 1945 or 1946, is a copy of the Leica II using some parts made by FED in Kharkiv. It comes complete with a KMZ Mockba (Moscow) Industar-22 50mm lens. The camera has a starting price of €4,000 and expected to fetch as much as €10,000.

Kosmo Foto has previously reported on another lot being sold at October’s auction – one of only a handful of Leica 0-series cameras, the pre-production precursors to the first production Leicas made in 1925.

  • Many thanks to Ivan Zotikov for nackground information on the Iura used in this piece.

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Stephen Dowling
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