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BrianT Posted - Sep 06 2007 : 05:58:01 AM

And we open the box to reveal.


I wonder just who could have afforded this camera in 1956. 2340 Roubles sounds a lot, but it might not have been , I haven't got a clue on the exchange rate then. Whoever bought it couldn't afford film, the camera is totally as new and the instruction book worn out.

I bought this camera from Ebay. I wrote to tell the seller how pleased I was, he replied. Dear Brian I have another three for different years none have been used, if you would like them? Guess what I replied?

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Vlad Posted - Sep 13 2007 : 09:24:48 AM
You know in USSR as far as I remember Zeiss was revered as well.. I mean most of the imported stuff into Soviet Union was actually regarded superior than domestically produced... it's quite funny and sad...

BrianT Posted - Sep 13 2007 : 05:47:57 AM

Very close to my figures Ian. Re quality although expensive I don't think Russian cameras were held in high regard, indeed like Japenese products they were regarded as inferior copies.. Your typical English person was a great traditionalist, in optics Germany ruled. I remember my grandmother who was born in 1888 telling me that my grandfather's binoculars were the best in the World. "Gemany makes the best in the World" she said, her voice lowered a little, she looked down at the rather battered pair of binoculars...."Zeiss" she said almost reverentially. Grandad had died forty years before in 1916 at the first battle of the Somme.

All together...Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.
Jocko Posted - Sep 12 2007 : 08:53:12 AM
This is a fascinating discussion and a fabulous camera!

On the matter of price, I think a direct dollar comparison could be misleading as conditions in wages and supply of goods in the USA were incomparably better than in Europe during the 1950s.

In 1960 (preTOE) a Kiev 4 cost 58.19s.7d. That price appears in Amateur Photographer (8/6/60) and the same magazine features job ads for a "first class photographic salesman" at 15pw and an "assistant photographer" at 5 (rising to 10 after 4 years!) It seems fair to think that the Kiev would have been at least 6-8 weeks wages for many people and a good deal more for some, although Soviet goods were invariably lower priced. Incidentally, a Leica iiig and 2.8 Elmar went for 88.00, so Soviet cameras were obviously not regarded as cheap. low-quality equipment.

Cheers, Ian :)
BrianT Posted - Sep 07 2007 : 06:00:01 AM

Vlad my wife started teaching in 1970 here in the U.K., London actually where teachers wages were a bit higher. But in Dollar terms the Kiev would have cost her about two months salary. So not much different, although she received her salary on the dot every month.Makes you think, the first Leica I bought was an M3 in 1962, it was s/h and cost me 112, that was about 10 weeks wage, now probably less than the average person earns in a day.

Say thanks to Grandad for the info, now off to Asda, whoops sorry, Walmart.

Vlad Posted - Sep 06 2007 : 2:41:51 PM

I just looked at the link with the back picture.. I have never seen a camera that old in such pristine condition!

Vlad Posted - Sep 06 2007 : 2:40:31 PM
I have an update. I just spoke at length with my grandfather. He said that these cameras were readily available in the stores because they were very expensive so I want to retract my previous statement about these cameras being a list item, even though I know cars and other things of high demand were.

The teachers' salary (my grandmother was a teacher) was 65 roubles a month in 1960s. Which obviously translates to 650 roubles in 1956 terms.. so it is 3.5 months of salary roughly. Back in 50s I'm sure these salaries were less..

BrianT Posted - Sep 06 2007 : 2:26:33 PM
Vlad what would $230 have been in salary terms for a teacher, any idea.

Yes I feel very lucky to be the custodian of these cameras. Not only the front, look at the backs.


Vlad Posted - Sep 06 2007 : 1:49:33 PM
These are unbelievable examples of early Kievs, you should be proud to own these.. by the way I've determined that the exact year of money reform in USSR was 1960. it was 1 to 10 reduction.

BrianT Posted - Sep 06 2007 : 1:40:42 PM

Four months salary whew.

That last link I put in shows that a great deal of care was taken with these earlier Kievs. The aperture index for instance is machined with a remarkable degree of precision. I am begining to appreciate these cameras more and more, particularly those made in the late forties and fifties.
Vlad Posted - Sep 06 2007 : 12:59:02 PM
Oh yea! 230 roubles! That was at least 4 months salary back in the days.
BrianT Posted - Sep 06 2007 : 12:30:34 PM

Vlad thank you so much for your insight and taking the time to explain it. $138 in 1956 must have been a fortune. I remember some seller on Ebay telling me that many of these cameras were used as 'currency' and that this had contributed to the wonderful condition of so many. I suppose another factor is that except for the camera we shall now refer to as the 'Medical' all have arrived in E.R.C.

Vlad Posted - Sep 06 2007 : 11:23:46 AM
Here's how things worked in Soviet Union:

There was a shortage of a lot of high end stuff, like cameras, cars etc, because production was limited. So you had to get on a list to purchase thing like that because they were highly desirable.. People would get on a list to get stuff they don't even need because it was considered that you can always resell it for much higher to someone because you can't just walk into a store and purchase a Kiev off the shelf. Although I am way too young to know what the availability of these particular cameras was in 1950s but I remember 1980s and things haven't changed much in Soviet Union in that time period.

I remember my uncle being on a wait list to buy a car for a year. What was interesting that you don't know what car you would get, you will be presented with a choice when your turn approaches to purchase it. You just get into line to buy a "Car".

Why I'm going on about this, a lot of people would get into line to buy some high end item just for the sake of it being a high end item with absolutely no interest to use it afterwards. So my guess is with these Kievs someone had bought them and put them into storage thinking he will give it to their children or grandchildren, or sell it down the road. This is the case mostly with these cameras probably, that is why they are in this new condition. People viewed it as investment, you buy it and maybe sell it later on for profit on a rainy day.

An interesting case was in 1980s I was in Moscow and there was this huge line to a store - a supermarket or "Univermag". I see people come up to the end of the line and ask "who's last?". The other person would reply I am.. they would just come up and stand in line. And mind you it was a line that you would stand in for 4-6 hours. Maybe after an hour someone asks deep in line "What's the line for?".. they would get a reply ... "Don't know".. or "Toilet Paper maybe..."... well people kept standing and waiting.. Then it trickles down the line "You know what, it's women's bras and then when they run out of them they will sell Czech made soap".. what was interesting you don't see many people go out of the line saying "yea... i don't need that..." they just keep standing in line...

I hope this kind of gives you a feel what the Soviet life was like. There was always a shortage of stuff, and people would jump on anything sold that presented any quality even if they didn't need it. Their (or our, myself growing up in USSR) mentality was "I can always use/sell/give it to children in 10 year". And they just put in the "antrisoli" Which is a attic-like storage space in a lot of apartments..

Vlad Posted - Sep 06 2007 : 11:03:54 AM
I can see it now, site must've been down!

Wow! Very nice! 2300 roubles in 1956 is equivalent to about 230 roubles! Soviet Union had a money reform some time in 60s, I can verify the exact date. A 0 was shaved off. So 100 roubles became 10 roubles.

Dollar exchange rate after the reform was 60cents=1rouble. So roughly (I'm mixing some time periods here) 230 roubles would've been $138 in late 60s... now you can do conversion from $138 60s dollars to 1956 dollars (I'm not sure what reverse inflation numbers would be).

Hope that helps.

BrianT Posted - Sep 06 2007 : 10:12:03 AM
See if this works. it's a bit of it.


BrianT Posted - Sep 06 2007 : 10:03:23 AM

Vlad, sorry mate " timing out" does that mean you can't see them. Works fine at this end.


Vlad Posted - Sep 06 2007 : 09:29:25 AM
Hi Brian,

the links were timing out on me, I'm dying to see what it is!! :)


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