NEW AND SECOND HAND
It's always interesting, after a few decades, to look at what we pay for things now, and what they cost new. Recently I found my Wallace Heaton Blue Book from 1963-64 and it confirmed my memory of the price of the Kiev 4 at a bit over £48. What I had forgotten was that this was nearly three times the price of the Zorki 6 and around twice the price of the Fed 2 and 3. Nor had I remembered the price of Werras: the Werra V was even more expensive than the Kiev, which may be why they're so rare today. The aperture-coupled meter added almost £17, just under 30 per cent, to the price of the otherwise identical Werra III. To convert prices to 2017 levels using UK price indices, multiply by at least 15: you're looking at £750 for the Kiev. In 1963, £48:15:0d would have been $136.50, so with the 15x multiplier call it a good bit over $2000.
Of course, Werras aren't that common in any form, and I suspect that this is not just because of their weirdness: the rotary wind on, via a collar around the lens, and the improbable shutter with its 1/750 top speed and the lenses mounted in front of it. No: the Fed, Zorki and Kiev were (more or less) compatible with existing systems, Fed and Zorki with Leica and Kiev with Contax and (almost) Nikon. The Werra, on the other hand, had a unique mount and a very limited range of alternative lenses: as far as I know, just the two listed in the advertisement above. They were also uninspiring in specification: 35/2.8 and 100/4. Faster lenses could not have been fed through the shutter, which also explains the 50/2.8 Tessar. I've owned Werras, and even reviewed one for Shutterbug in 2009.
Then we turn over the page, and it's a very different story. The slowest lens available for the Canon 7 was a 50/1.8, and even with that option, the camera was over twice the price of the Werra V. With the most expensive option, it was over four times the price of the Kiev and over ten times the price of the Zorki.
Even so, the most expensive option (the 50/0.95 instead of the f/1.8) added less than £100 to the outfit, though the lens alone was still a lot more expensive than the body: over £133 (about £2000 in 2017 money) for the lens as against £89:8:6d (£1350 in 2017 money)for the body.
On the other hand, the Canon 7 with the 50/0.95 was more expensive than an M3 with 50/1.4 Summilux. What is more, the leather ever-ready cases for the Canon and the Leica were (expensive) extras, whereas they were included with the Zorki and Feds though not the Werra. In fact, you even got a reloadable cassette with both the Zorki and the Feds. Anyone who ever owned an ERC for a Fed, Zorki or indeed Zenith will no doubt recall the heady aroma of the leather.
The Blue Book is a substantial little volume of 224 pages, and half a crown (2/6 marked on the cover) was an eighth of a pound, so call it a couple of quid with the 15x multiplier: something of a bargain. Note particularly, though, the white "splash" warning on the back cover -- though one suspects their rejection rate may have been higher for Zorkis than for Canons and Leicas... The Blue Book ran from 1949 to 1972; this is the oldest one I have.
Wallace Heaton held several Royal Warrants. as shown on the cover above, but in 1972 they were bought out by the Dixons chain. Although the name was used for several more years, as far as I know it is now gone. Then again, I can't remember the last time I was in New Bond Street.
Go to Photography
Go to Index
Go to Home Page
Text and pictures copyright (c) Roger Hicks 2017; Blue Book copyright (c) Wallace Heaton 1963