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Argus C3 Camera in Article of WWII GI's personal photos.


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This post highlights the iconic Argus C-3, and explains the mistake I made when purchasing one.


This photo is from an article featured a few days ago on businessinsider.com, link:


Last summer, I was inspired to buy a vintage Argus C-3 after seeing one on page 130 in the book, Individual Gear and Personal Items of the GI in Europe 1942-1945.

I've found valuable info in this book not seen in my other references. It describes the C-3 as being very popular in the civilian market and that it was "considered the best camera of World War II".


The businessinsider article states: "Vaccaro was armed with an M1 rifle. He also brought along his personal camera: A relatively compact Argus C3 he'd purchased secondhand for $47.50 and had become fond of using as a high-school student in New York."


This is what an Argus C3 camera, manufactured in 1941, looks like. It is from my militaria collection, although its a civilian camera. Variations of this camera, aptly nicknamed "The Brick" were made starting in 1939 and on into the 1960's. Interestingly, I paid, in total, about a dollar less for mine than Vaccaro did for his.


It's hard to confirm from the article's photo if either of Vaccaro's two cameras pictured is an Argus C3.
They don't appear to be.

In any case, I had an interesting learning experience during the process of acquiring this camera.

I set out to find an example that exactly matched the one shown in my reference book.
That was a mistake.


Once I received the camera, I noticed a serial number etched on the inside.
Naturally I went online to look it up and found a site dedicated to collectors of Argus C-3's.
It showed that the one I bought was made in the early 50's.


Then I looked up pictures of those with WWII dated serial numbers.

Lo and behold, there were several obvious cosmetic features that were quite different from those made before and just after the war.


Differences start with the outside of the lens on the per-war and wartime versions, which reads "Argus Cintar". On the post-war versions, it reads "Argus Coated Cintar".

The cocking lever is silver on the 1941 but were painted black starting in 1946, like the one erroneously pictured in the WWII reference book.

In addition to those, there are a few other features that differ as well.

There are also tables that show the years for the ranges of serial numbers, to further confirm the date of manufacture.

Once I became more educated on this subject, I hunted down the wartime model shown above.

I sent photos of my newer camera, and my previous one that matched the photo they used, to the publisher of the reference book .

Included in my email was a list of the contrasting features. They were kind enough to reply, and stated that they would update the book if and when a new edition is printed.


I would still recommend the book. I wouldn't have even known about this camera without it, and would not have known what camera the businessinsider article was referring to, which, as it turns out, would be more like one in my collection!


After this experience, I have a healthier skepticism for information in reference books. I know to cross-reference information if I'm getting ready to lay out some bucks.

As it turned out, I ended up only paying for one of the two Bricks I own. But that's another story.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My dad had an Argus C-3. I have it now. For years, it was the only 35mm camera we had. My dad took some good family photos with it but I found it a pain to use. The focus system was hard to sue in dim light and you have to manually select the lens opening. That plus it was easy to do a double exposure.


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My dad had one, too.  I still have hundreds of photos, negatives & color slides that he took with it.  I think my sister has it now.

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