View Full Version : Checking that a IIIc with red shutter curtain is not a fake...
I'm toying with the idea of bidding on a user IIIc with a red shutter curtain. How can I check that it is not a fake? I don't mind it if anything has been replaced, I just don't want to find 'Made in USSR' engraved anywhere! Is there a place I can check the serial number is valid?
Serial numbers can be faked as well. :) A list is available on cameraquest.com. Best is to check the offered IIIc with photos and descriptions on cameraquest.com, the Leica forum on photo.net or the forum of the Leica User Group.
Perhaps some of the members here on RFF can check the auction for you.
Try Camera Quest at http://cameraquest.com/classics.htm
You will find a listing of Leica serial numbers as well as a lot of other usefull information.
Mr. Gandy has done an excellent job and his web site with a wealth of information on many brands of cameras.
Thanks, the serial number checks out. Is there anything 'special' about the red shutter curtain that would either make it valuable or a fake?
David, I'm no expert but I believe that real red curtain Leicas were built during the war when German industry faced a shortage of materials and had to find substitutes. I've read somewhere that the red material was parachute cloth. Because we're talking Leicas here, any model or production run that was limited in number becomes more valuable to collectors. That's why Army engraved Leicas are more valuable to collectors as well, there are just fewer of them. Now some of the Army/airforce gear was made with ball bearings in some of the mechanics which might be desireable in terms of longevity/durability, but basically it's all about scarcity and collectors, not about functionality.
Some Leica bodies had their shutter curtains replaced at a later date with red material and since these are not original red curtain Leicas (out of the factory) they are less desireable by collectors. I don't know how to distinguish these from the others.
I don't have my copy of "60 Years of the Leica" handy but I believe it's explained there that Leitz tried the red curtain material before the war and didn't take it beyond the experimental stage, setting the extra material aside in storage. It was utilized during the war when normal shutter materials became difficult to get.
As to the ball-bearing shutters, some war-time IIIc Leicas have the letter "K" in the serial number and it was thought for years that it meant "kalt" or "cold" and indicated a special design for cold weather use, especially by the Luftwaffe at high altitudes. It has since been determined that the "K" indicates the German word for "ball bearings". All Leicas from a certain serial number in the IIIc range have the ball bearing shutters whether marked "K" or not. It was the first significant improvement in the Leica shutter since it's introduction.
With respect to fakes made from Soviet cameras, there are Leica characteristics that are almost imposiible to visibly mask, such as the shape of the curvature of the top where the accessory shoe resides. A peak into the interior lens mount throat is also a dead giveaway since the Leica uses a roller and the Soviet cameras do not.
A fake made from a Japanese Leica copy is a different matter. Most of them are so valuable now that it might not be cost-effective to make a fake from one of them.
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