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Lot 775
Lucky strike spy camera
Mast Development Corp, USA,
3 December 2015, 16:00 HKT
Hong Kong, Admiralty

HK$320,000 - HK$500,000

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Lucky strike spy camera

Mast Development Corp, USA,
16mm metal-body, with matt-black body and chrome top plate, four-speed shutter B, 00, 25, 5, four-position aperture and film advance, contained within a paper Lucky Strike cigarette packet, a metal body light meter disguised as an Ohio Safety match box.


The Lucky Strike was developed for the U.S. Signal Corps c. 1949-1950. The selenium light meter was built by Quavas Corporation. This camera is one of only two know to have been made, the other exampled is in the Signal Corps Museum, Ft. Monmouth, U.S.A. The initial contract for a concealable camera to fulfil military requirements for a 16mm precision still camera for application in situations where the use of such cameras was desirable was given to the DeMornay-Budd Co. which developed a model in 1946-49. This did not meet the specification and another contract was given to the Mast Development Co. Inc. who developed two models during 1949-50. Neither was ever adopted by the U.S army. Hindle when writing his article in 1974 was only able to account for one of each model. White, interviewing Edward Kaprelian, the original engineer who headed the project, was told by Kaprelian that two were made.

The camera fitted into the actual outer wrapper from a Lucky Strike cigarette packet. It was made to a very high standard with a five-element f/2.7 17.5mm Sonnar-type lens. A focal plane shutter was mounted in front of the lens and provided shutter speeds from B,5,=50,00. Eighteen exposures on 16mm film could be made.

Literature: White (1990), Subminiature Photography, p.207, 209-210.
Hindle, 'More Than Just Another Pack of Smokes' in Photographica, Aug-Sept 1974, p. 5.
Michael Pritchard, A History of Photography in 50 Cameras, p. 131.

Additional information