Bakelite cameras

I first came across these Bakelite cameras at a flea market and having bought one (I’d just read Bakelite objects were becoming collectable). I started to look out for others and now have a small collection. These cameras all used 620 roll film which is no longer available – Kodak discontinued it in July 1995. However it is possible to rewind the still-available 120 film onto 620 spools (the only difference was the smaller size of the 620 spools). Unfortunately most of the cameras in flea markets are non-functioning or damaged or missing minor pieces (e.g. the release button).

The Fex models evolved slowly over some fifteen or so years and there are probably about fifteen-to-twenty style variants. Differences are not easy to tell at a glance – often those who see the few I’ve got often query why I’ve got so many the same! But they are different – early ones have only one winder knob, may have only a single shutter speed and single aperture and have a different style of text, later some still had no flashgun shoe whereas others have one or two flash connectors, then there are those with blue around the lens…..unfortunately the manufacture no longer exists and all these variants do not seem to be recorded. So at flea markets there is always a problem of remembering whether or not I’ve already got a specific style – not that there are many worth haggling for. And with the internet, stall-holders often think they should be asking the 80 Euro they see them being advertised for rather than a more modest 2-8 Euro!

Fex were the main brand but there were other near imitations (including some from the same manufacturer). The Unifex is one of these.

The Photax are the most stylish but seem to be a lot rarer (or already in the hands of collectors). The one (or two) that I come across each year always seem to have some problem or fault.

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