Origin: These incredible pieces of Cold War surveillance equipment come straight from the collection of the KGB Espionage Museum. While the museum unfortunately closed in 2020, History Hoard obtained these buttons at auction and now everyone can own a small piece of genuine Cold War spy gear!
Designed to look like simple coat buttons, these devices were used to conceal the lens of a subminiature camera (specifically the Russian Ajax-12 / F-21, produced from 1952 to the mid 1990's). The buttons' date of manufacture is harder to pinpoint, but their appearance indicates that they were most likely made in the 1950's or 1960's (though some may date into the 1980's).
The camera would be carefully positioned to shoot from behind the button holes, and was activated with a remote shutter switch hidden in the operative's coat pocket. Often the center of the button was split and would act as a pair of shutters, opening up when a photo was taken. Screw threading on the inside edge of the button would allow it to be easily attached to the shutter apparatus (see photos below, courtesy of www.cryptomuseum.com).
Two button varieties are available: open center and closed center. The open center buttons would have had a pair of shutters over the lens that opened when a photo was taken. The closed center buttons simply took photos through the four button holes (these cost more as we have a lot fewer to sell). Each includes a Certificate of Authenticity.
The KMZ Ajax-12 or F-21 subminiature camera with the film cassette removed.
A complete fake button covering the Ajax-12's lens. Only the brown portion would be exposed outside an agent's clothing.
The button shutter apparatus. Two "button" pieces, complete with fake threads, would cover the camera lens and opened up when a photo was taken.
A complete Ajax-12 kit, complete with the button shutter apparatus and replacement buttons.
Physical prints of the photos above (and 4 more) are included with each button. Images courtesy of Crypto Museum, check them out here!
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Your order will include:
- One spy camera button, of specified type
- Photo slides with more info about the Ajax-12 subminiature camera that these buttons were used with
- Glass top leather display box
- Detail card with relevant information about the relic
- Certificate of Authenticity
History Hoard relics are guaranteed authentic and have a 100% money back policy. Read more about the History Hoard Promise.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Your Certificate of Authenticity is more than just a piece of paper—it's a promise to you.
When you buy from History Hoard, you can rest assured that each of your new relics has been thoroughly inspected under the careful eyes of an antiquities specialist. Only items that are 100% certain to be authentic get sent to our customers.
Plus, we take great care to source our relics from only vetted antiquities experts, who are also committed to providing genuine and ethically sourced relics.
Check out this video to see the most basic things we look for when authenticating coins:
To read more about our promise to you, click here.
Actually, many relics are able to be owned by anyone.
Typically, museums only want to display items that are either very rare or incredibly well preserved. This leaves many items that don't make the cut, and these are able to be owned by individuals.
While the items we sell aren't "museum grade," they still carry with them the same amount of history and uniqueness. Each relic was still hand made by a person, hundreds or even thousands of years ago.
One of our core values is not to damage or alter any of the artifacts we sell.
History needs to be preserved—after all, there is a limited amount of it that survives—but it is also something to be shared with the masses. For this reason, we put our relics in sturdy display cases that are safe to handle, but are mindful that someday the relic may need to be taken out again.
No glue or resin holds the items in place. Instead, we're developed our own method for holding the relics securely in their displays using pressure alone. In fact, any of our relics can be removed in their original condition by simply opening the display case.
You can find our complete FAQ section here.