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Argus Codewords

Many knowledgeable camera collectors, especially those of the Leica 35mm camera persuasion, know that Leitz had developed and maintained a compendium of some 2000 codewords for the Leica system from its inception in the 1920s until this type of catalog reference listing was replaced by a numerical one in 1960. They were poetic in a sense: 

ABLON, ADFIK, ADVOO, AGRIF, ANZOO, CEYOO, EKURZ, ELANG, ELRIT, FARUX, FIAKU, FIKUS, FILCA, HEKTOR, HESUM, HOOPY, IROOA, ITOOY, KGOON, MOOLY, NOOKY, PEGOO, OKARO, ORAKO, PLOOT, RASAL, ROSOL, RIFLE, SAWOO, SBLOO, SCNOO, VALOO, VOOLA, VIDEO, WINKO, ZOOAN, et. al., and they provided the Leicaphile a secret vocabulary.

It has been reported that in 1934, Charles E. Verschoor, President of the recently formed International Radio Corporation of Ann Arbor, Michigan, was captivated by the Leica camera while on a trip abroad. He reasoned that an inexpensive version manufactured in plastic, while achieving a wide consumer base, (as Universal Camera Corporation was realizing with its UniveX Model A camera) would also serve to keep the IRC molded-plastic radio cabinet department working during that industry's normal slack periods.

The Argus Model A camera, designed by Verschoor with the assistance of Gustave Fassin of Rochester, N.Y., was announced to the trade in September 1935, "......Inquiries from reputable dealers solicited. (No bargain or cut-rate houses considered)....", and brought forth in May 1936. It sold more than 30,000 units the first few weeks on the market at $12.50! After a time the price dropped to $10.00, the IRC radio patents were sold to RCA, (including an exclusive best seller and the industry's first plastic table model AC-DC radio, the IRC Kadette), the company name changed to International Research Corporation and the rest as they say, is history.

With the advent of Eastman Kodak's Daylight-Loading Cartridge in 1934 serving as a catalyst to a simple design and low cost production, the Argus Model A became for many Americans of the 1930s, a synonym for "candid camera" and gained them entry into 35mm photography in an affordable way. And Charles Verschoor's captivation by Leica was apparently profound. Herewith, are the Leitz-like Argus System Codewords, circa 1939. 

          Code Word   Part No. Description

  • ANBAL Model A Camera with f/4.5 50mm triple Anastigmat lens
  • ABEX Model A2 Like ANBAL, with built-in extinction type exposure meter.
  • ANTU Model A2F Like ABEX, with close focusing mount.
  • BLANCA 50 Black leather zipper Case (for Model A Camera only)
  • SWACA 50A Soft suede zipper Bag (for Model A Camera only
  • REDKA  51A Black cowhide "Redycase"
  • LUXKA  52A DeLuxe black leather case
  • SUNSE  S-1  Lens Shade
  • SORCA  S-2  Portrait Attachment No.3
  • SOPLU  S-3 . Copying Attachment No.2
  • SILSA  S-4 Yellow Filter 2X
  • SELRO  S-5  Yellow Filter 4X
  • SUBSU  S-6 Rubber Lens Cap
  • SARCI  S-7  Lens Accessory Case
  • SOMTA  S-8 Complete Kit of the above Six Items in SARCI for Model A or A2.
  • SAFFO  SAF-8  Complete Kit for Model AF or A2F only (Same as SOMTA with SORCA and SOPLU replaced by FILRED and SAFE).
  • FILRED  S-9  Red Filter
  • AMAZ  S-12 Kodachrome Color Filter
  • ATRA S-13  UV Haze Filter
  • SAFE  X-3 Carry Case Safety Screw
  • AXMET  X-2  Microscope Adapter
  • AXROC  X-1 6" Wire Cable Release
  • AREL  CD-880 Plunger Release Button
  • SLIBIT  K-3 Argus Glass Slidekit
  • SLIBIK  K-4 Arguslide Binder Kit
  • SLIBIN  B-1 Arguslide Binder Only
  • SILPRO  CP Arguslide Projector, w/4" lens, 100 watt bulb, plug-in extension cord & slide carrier.
  • *        V-13 Replacement Bulb 100 watt
  • COMCA   Combination Carrying Case
  • PROCAS  BPCS Mode Bl Argus Projector, w/5" lens, case & slide carrier.
  • PROTO  BP  "B" Argus Projector (only) 
  • PROEX  BS "B" Special Argus Projector (with 3" or 4" lens)
  • CASA BC  Projector Case (only)
  • PROLITE V-1 Projector Lamp 100 watt
  • PROLENS  OA-34 Projection Lens, 3" or 4"
  • PROLEX  OA-67 Projection Lens, 6" or 7"
  • SLICA  X-4 Slide Carrier, glass slides
  • CASEX  SBA Spl."B" Extra size carrying case (space for extra lens and 300 glass slides)
  • RETAK  V-17 Rewind take-up attachment
  • CABOX  V-18 Deluxe combination carrying case with compartments for 75 slides.
  • SLIBO  X-5 Glass Slide Box with index (capacity 100 slides)
  • ENLA  EA Enlarger, without framing easel.
  • ENES  EAE Enlarger, with framing easel base.
  • EEL  EL Enlarger, plain base and f/5.6 lens.
  • ALE  ELE  Enlarger, easel base and f/5.6 lens.
  • ELEN  EAL-200  f/5.6 Enlarger lens, with focusing mount.
  • ELA  EA-50-A 110V/100W inside flashed opal replacement lamp.
  • SCRIT  R-1 Arguscreen Kit, (including 30"x 32" table mdl Projection Screen, SLIPRO, SLIBO and Carrying Case).
  • SCRICA  R-1A Screen Case and Slide Box only
  • SCRO  R-2 Arguscreen (40"x 40") floor mdl 

Sources:

  • Glass, Brass, & Chrome: The American 35mm Miniature Camera by Kalton C. Lahue and Joseph A. Bailey, 1972 University of Oklahoma Press, Norman OK.
  • Argus by Jacob Deschin, 1957 Camera Craft Publishing Co, San Francisco, CA.
  • The New Photo-Miniature, New Series:No 4, September 1935
  • The Camera, Vol LII, Number Five, May 1936 "
  • AIM AND SHOOT" Argus Candid Camera Photography International Research Corporation, Ann Arbor, Mich., Form Code G1, 1939
  • The Kekfoto Collection

1999 - 2009 Kirk Kekatos

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