Sucker Needed

These lenses may have been pointed at Joseph Stalin

Someone on a Canadian internet site is selling the above items – a Hecktor 3.5cm and Elmar 13.5cm 4.5 and assorted crap – for $3000 US, claiming they were owned by Stalin’s secretary. Got the written receipt and everything. Unfortunately, you can’t confirm through the seller because she killed herself some years ago. The Elmar doesn’t have a serial number.

This could all be true and completely above-board. It might not. Who knows?

— This very special lot belonged to the private collection of Major-General Alexander Poskrebyshev (1891-1965), chief of the special department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, and Joseph Stalin’s “faithful dog”. —I obtained this lot from Alexandra Sergeevna Poskrebysheva, daughter of Elena Alexandrovna Poskrebysheva, who was the Major General’s daughter from his third marriage to Ekaterina Grigorevna Poskrebysheva (maiden name Zimina). In 2014, after exchanging a few back-and-forth emails, Alexandra sent me the items from Moscow via Russian Post. The tracking number (search RA212147803RU on shows her name signed on the bottom: Poskrebysheva A S

In the package, she included a handwritten signed certificate (in Russian and English) that confirmed the legitimacy of the lot’s historical heritage. The certificate reads:”This certifies that this Leica leather case obtaining two Leitz Wetzlar prime lenses with the ranges of 135mm and 5cm, as well as two manual measuring/viewfinder accessories, belonged to the private collection of the Soviet Major-General, Alexander Nikolaevich Poskrebyshev, Chief of the special department of the Central Committee of Communist Party. (signed) Alexandra Poskrebysheva, daughter of Elena Poskrebysheva”

My communication with Alexandra, a respected doctor in Moscow, was very pleasant and productive. Sadly, when randomly searching her name last year, I found out that Alexandra took her own life in December of 2017, at the age of 49 years old (article in Russian: Another article ( suggests that the woman was very lonely and likely depressed.

*** For this reason, and in order to pay it forward, I will be donating 10% of the earnings from this sale to a mental health charity of the winner’s choice, and in their name ***

WHAT YOU’RE GETTING:1) Leitz Hektor 5cm f2.5 lens – NO SERIAL NUMBER, absolutely pristine condition, clear glass, smooth aperture and focus. +++ Rear and front caps. 2) Leitz Elmar 135mm f4.5 lens – Serial Number 231 — Great condition with some external signs of use, clear glass, smooth aperture and focus ring. — No caps 3) Leitz Viewfinder – Great condition4 ) Leitz Rangefinder – Great condition 5) Leitz leather case – Great condition 6) Two signed certificates, written in Russian and English.

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6 thoughts on “Sucker Needed

  1. Stephen J

    Good luck to them.

    If anyone is interested, I have a Leica M-D with a Nikkor 50mm f2 that I once pointed at Bruce Dickinson lead singer of Iron Maiden, as he dedicated the new gravestone to William Blake the London poet and artist.

    It is a one off, and surely worth at least a £1 billion.

    Any takers?

  2. Rob Campbell

    Actually, this could be a comment on GAS, and perhaps the dangers of that syndrome.

    My D700 went into permanent mirror-up position, and refuses to come back down again. Despite trying every possible mode of release, the thing is firmly up there in its sky. I e-mailed the place where I’d bought it (Nikon specialists in London; I’m in Spain) about this, asking for advice. The advice was that it would probably be quite an expensive repair – if Nikon could even provide whatever has broken or gone sour. In other words, good money would be being chucked in pursuit of bad.

    Consequently, I find myself looking at alternatives that would keep my lens armoury relevant and not upset the delicate equilibrium of my income/expenditure balancing act. So far, I have been poised on the brink of buying at least a couple of times, only to find that something inside me refuses to let me do it. The last time (yesterday), I had the thought come to me that had I the latest and greatest Nikon on the bench behind me, it would see no more aficionado action than the remaining cameras that I still think are in good working condition.

    Perhaps that’s what makes Leica collectors as they are: chasing gear allows one the doubtful joy of being involved with photography – in a way – without actually having to confront oneself with the difficult questions of what it is we think we are contributing to photography and what photography is giving us back.

    Perhaps GAS is the less painful way of burying the head in sand.


  3. te3iz

    Thank you for this post! I’m the seller of the item and was very surprised to find a blog post about it, haha 🙂

    Your scepticism is well-deserved and I would likely feel the same way if I were you. Although what I said was 100% true about how I came into possession of the lenses, I have since relisted some of the items with a more appropriate disclaimer, stating that- “To the best of my knowledge”- the items came from Poskrebyshev’s collection.

    Your input was definitely appreciated 🙂

  4. Rob Campbell

    Here we are, the 27th of October, and I have resisted the camera GAS urge – to the delight of my little D 200 that rewarded me with some nice little pictures that I shot with the new 1.8/85mm Nikkor that arrived a little while back. For the reactivation of my shooting urges, I suppose that I should thank the influence of one Sean Tucker and also Alan Scharrer, both of whose approaches to black and white have opened my eyes from the darkness in which a traditional training in how prints should look has been keeping them: I have learned to expose for the highlights and let the shadows go screw themselves, a heresy, for many. Of course, that was de rigueur for transparencies, but that’s something else.

    Both those cats have videos to their name, and Tucker, especially, has a very pleasant, laid back
    approach to his life’s work as well, and quite a catalogue of YouTube films/vids. Scharrer has the Leicas…

    I do wish Tim had time to come up with some more writing; leaving quite a void, he is.

    To make matters worse, I was doing some work on the computer yesterday, when the thing turned nervous, and so I switched myself into doing a “recovery” act, whereupon after much delay, the screen informed me that it hadn’t worked, and to try again. Several agains later I gave up and took it to the repair guys, who brought up a number of screen possibilities on one of their own devices, and I was able to identify the one that kept appearing on my set. I was told it might be memory. I hope not, because though I have backed pics up on two separate drives, it means that I might be losing all my e-mail addresses which are not backed up. I can only wait for them to ring me when the machine has been fixed. How dependent this digital age has made us on things beyond our immediate control. And thank goodness for the little iPad!

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