Just when we think we’ve already unearthed the coolest spy cameras in the history of photography, something pops up and proves us wrong. From the depths of ebay’s vintage awesomeness comes a super rare and unique Soviet Era spy camera, concealed in an ornately decorated and curiously shaped gold ring. If this ingenious piece catches your fancy, all you have to do is cough up almost US $20,000.
Spy jewelry and accessories have long been part of covert operations but this ring camera is certainly one of the most exquisite from modern times. According to the listing by Canada-based hit-camera-ltd-7569, this one-of-a-kind subminiature spy camera used to be part of the collection of a certain Mr. Shibata. One of the spy ring cameras made by the Soviet intelligence agency Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (KGB), a gold plated version was sold at Christie’s in 1991 for about $25,000. The seller allegedly had the camera in possession since the early 1970s.
“We think there is only one other ring camera like it in the world,” Christie’s spokeswoman Katherine Curtis said in a Los Angeles Times report.
This camera, however, is not gold plated, but made out of 14K solid gold and weighs approximately 44g. A close-up shot shows the 585 stamp that certifies its karatage. The ring is decorated with detailed engravings and has a crown-shaped bezel that hides the camera lens. It has a variable aperture, a working guillotine shutter, and a film holder that takes 8mm film. The seller also notes that the optics has no fungus, separation, scratches or haze, and the aperture works smoothly.
According to submin.com, KGB ring cameras began appearing in the market during the mid-1980s in Poland. They come in a number of designs, but they’re all made with the same mechanism. An inner ring that serves as the film strip holder fits into the outer ring to form the camera body. On the side of the outer ring is a sliding button that advances the film. To take a shot, simply squeeze the fingers together to press the adjacent button that fires the shutter.
The seller includes some photos demonstrating how the film holder works. But unfortunately, the film strip isn’t included, and you’ll have to source your own 8mm film to test out this camera. If you’re interested in this wearable spy camera with a history, head to the ebay listing and make sure to prepare your $19,650 to buy it now.
Images from the ebay listing by hit-camera-ltd-7569