One example of a rather scarce Minox camera, engraved “FI”. The model is a Minox C, serial 2429685, making it a 1973-74 camera, if we look on the Minox Serial Numbers chart. Otherwise a regular C type camera, this one is bearing the FI engraving, on the backplate, right under the Minox curved logo. It has a white lamp, and the dials are metric. Obviously a camera intended for Europe, I guess.
I have purchased this camera from a friend of mine, who found it in a thrift market somewhere in Romania, and offered it to me. Hard to imagine how on Earth this camera has ended in that place, but one can only guess, and I do have a pretty vivid imagination.
The FI engraving has a very interesting story to it: in the late 60’s, Italy was importing cameras and photographic equipment from Minox Germany, on a rather large scale. The importer for Minox in Italy was a company named Foto Exacta, later renamed as FOWA (FOtoexacta Winkler Aldo).
The company had a lot of troubles with “grey” Minox market, where these cameras were entering Italy without passing through the official importing chain (and taxes, of course). So, Fowa asked Minox Germany to engrave the cameras destined for exporting to Italy, and the solution was to engrave on the backplate of each camera the initials “FI” standing for Fowa Import. How did this worked out for the Italian tax man and for the importing company, I have no idea.
This particular camera has a dent on the lens cover, nothing big, but it nonetheless there. The viewfinder is clear, framing lines all right, battery chamber clean. The camera was loaded with a Minox bw film (Agfa APX 100, as typed on the right spool), and it also had a 5.6V battery installed, which was of course dead.
As far as I know, such markings were only seen on Minox B, C and BL cameras, also (reportedly), on some models of Minox 35. These cameras are not easy to find; not extremely scarce or extra-rare, they do not appear to be in a large number out there. I am glad I have one in my collection; regarding its capability of taking photographs, it remains to be seen. Of course it shall be put to work, but for the moment, it undergoes some cleaning, adjusting and testing, new battery, lens and filter cleaning.