Spy cameras to star at auction are ‘not far from James Bond’
December 1, 2015
The Lucky Strike Camera, with disguised lightmeter, developed for the US army.
Built for the US army in 1949-50, the Lucky Strike Camera was designed to capture up to 18 exposures on 16mm film.
Housed in a matt-black body with a chrome top-plate is a five-element 17.5mm f/2.7 Sonnar-type lens and a four-speed shutter that includes a bulb mode.
The Lucky Strike Camera – which comes with a lightmeter disguised as an Ohio Safety match box – could raise up to £40,000.
Made by the Mast Development Corporation, the camera is one of only two known examples.
However, the US army later decided not to use it.
The Bonhams sale will also feature a Mamiya Pistol Camera, around 250 of which were made in 1954 for Japanese police to use for surveillance training.
It is also expected to fetch up to £40,000.
A Doryu 2-16 Gun Camera, also intended for police use, is estimated at £12,000-17,000.
Bonhams camera specialist Jon Baddeley said: ‘Most spy cameras were made as novelties and tests of ingenuity for the designers and manufacturers, but some had a serious purpose and the American Lucky Strike Camera and the Japanese gun cameras are not far from the world of “Q”, the ingenious boffin of the James bond films.’
Also up for grabs will be a rare Ladies-Pattern patent watch (above), one of the earliest cameras in the sale, which is expected to fetch up to £105,000.
For details visit www.bonhams.com/auctions/22900.