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What was the Art Deco style originally known as?

Style Moderne
Streamlined Moderne
Arte Moderne.
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Art Deco Collectibles: Fashionable Objets from the Jazz Age
by Rodney Capstick-Dale &
Diana Capstick-Dale

In the 1920s and 1930s the Art Deco style influenced everything from art and architecture, interiors and furnishings, automobiles and boats to the small, personal objects that were part of everyday life: Featuring high-quality photography and vintage illustrations and ephemera, this book brings these objects to life in exquisite detail for the first time. The objects in this themed book encompass the Deco style at its most alluring, as well as the modernity, excitement, and social revolution of the Jazz Age.

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The Story of Art Deco

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French Art Deco Geometric Brooch

The Camera the Spy Brought in from the Cold
by Bob Brooke


James Bond is the quintessential spy. And like Bond, every Cold War spy used a variety of devices to gather information. One of these, made popular in Bond movies and the Mission Impossible T.V. series is the miniature camera. After breaking into an enemy’s offices, the spy pulled a tiny camera from his or her coat pocket and begins shooting photos of secret documents.

However, this camera isn’t a figment of fiction. It was real, the invention of Walter Zapp, a Baltic German born in Riga, Latvia, in 1905, then part of the Russian Empire. His family moved to Talinn, Estonia, where he eventually got a job with a photographer. At the time, photographers considered the Leica camera to be a miniature. But Zapp had an idea for an even smaller camera and began working on plans for it.

The Beginnings
To begin, Zapp carved a little piece of wood small enough to fit in the palm of his hand that would disappear inside a person’s closed fist. The little piece of wood was the first step in the realization of his dream of an ultra-miniature camera that people could have with them always, wherever they went, whatever they were doing. Such a camera, Zapp realized, would have to be more than simply tiny. It would have to be precisely made, and at the same time extremely simple to operate.

Taking the name from the way many camera names ended in the letters “ax” or “ox.” He added “min” for miniature and came up with Minox. The camera was built by Valsts Electro-Techniska Fabrika (VEF) in Riga and launched in 1937.

The Minox was made of stainless steel, giving it a weighty feel. It measured 3x1x0.5 inches in its closed position, extending to 3.75 inches when open for action. Opening the body revealed the Minostigmat 15mm f/3.5 lens alongside the viewfinder. A slider above the viewfinder pushed a light yellow filter over the lens.

The top of the body featured three controls plus a window to show the film frame counter. Two dials were used to focus the lens from eight inches to infinity and to adjust shutter speeds between 1/2 and 1/1000 second. The lens’s aperture remained fixed at f/3.5, so shutter speeds alone were used to control exposure. The only other control was the shutter button, which lay between the two dials. Once it had been used to release the shutter, it could not be pressed again until the camera had been closed and opened once more, which tensioned the shutter and advanced the film. The film size, originally planned as one quarter the width of 35mm at 8.75mm, was later standardized throughout the Minox range at 9.5mm wide.

He completed his camera’s design in 1938, after years of critical experimentation. Zapp succeeded in persuading a manufacturer to produce his miniature camera, making it a reality.

Zapp’s long and slim camera, made of shiny metal was the size of an index finger, one for use by spies during the Cold War. The spy could snap it open by pulling the ends, which extended the body to reveal the lens and viewfinder, pressed the shutter button, then closed it and opened it again for the next shot.

The Post-War Minox
After the war Walter Zapp found himself in Wes Germany, a refugee for whom everything seemed lost. Everything except his dream of a little camera with which people could make big pictures. Zapp began again. Working largely from memory, he soon completed a new set of engineering blue-prints. He used this time well, redesigning, refining and improving the original MINOX mechanism. He developed a new lens of superior optical performance, the 15 mm COMPLAN ff3.5, for the post-war models to be. To the basic camera, Zapp added a new line of accessories.

But Zapp needed to overcome the prejudice of many photographers, who refused to believe that anything so small could be a real camera. They believed a camera should be a big black-and-chrome thing a photographer carried about in a leather case with a shoulder-strap. Nothing so tiny as the MINOX could possibly work as well.

But the first post-war MINOX cameras, manufactured in improvised West German workshops, soon caused some doubt. From the tiny 8 x 11 mm ultra-miniature MINOX negatives came good and sharp photographs. The precision, elegance and convenience of its ultra-miniature design won enthusiastic fans for the MINOX around the world.

Walter Zapp originally envisioned the Minox to be a camera for everyone, requiring only little photographic knowledge. Because of its high manufacturing costs, the Minox became more well known as a must-have luxury item. From the start, the Minox also gained wide notoriety as a spy camera, although it was never originally intended to be used as such.

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