DUBAI: Throughout the last century, celebrations, memories and even wars have been captured on a tiny device – the camera – engraving the events as a physical copy.
One man’s obsession with vintage cameras has led to a vast 2,000-piece collection, the creation of camera NFTs and the 99 Cameras Club.
Federico inherited the camera collection from his father, with rare cameras from the likes of very early Leicas, Nikon, Rollei, Minox, Jaeger Le Coultre and more.
Speaking to Arab News Japan, he said that his father “was beyond passionate” about the picture capturing devices. “It was an obsession, up until the day he died we were still receiving cameras from the mail. You don’t get 2,000 cameras out of thin air.”
Once his father passed away in 2020, Federico dove into the collection and came out with the idea of sharing the collection of cameras as a way to honor his dad through the 99 Cameras Club.
“One of the good things of his collection, after he died, is that I kind of dove into his mind in a way I have never done before when he was alive,” he explained, adding that he had considered selling them at first.
“However, I couldn’t because it was really my dad’s legacy, whatever it was worth,” Federico told Arab News Japan. “I had already made an NFT space for my job, and I was wondering if there was a way for the digital space or environment to transpose the camera collection.”
The creator of the 99 Cameras Club said that the more he started learning about these antiques, the more he realized other people who are into cameras were in fact not that old.
“There are quite a few relatively young people into these vintage cameras. The idea is we can use technology to have people collect the digital versions of them,” he said.
Federico considered putting the 2,000 cameras on his digital space, however, he decided to choose a number and came up with 99, because he has “99 cameras which are worth mentioning.”
“They’ve been selected, not because they are expensive, but because they all have one historical or one special thing about them, like the early Leicas, or spycams from the Soviet Union’s KGB,” he added.
The idea behind the 99 Cameras Club is to publish photos and some information on 99 of the cameras each day until February. Once all the cameras have been brought to light on social media, Federico will launch 999 NFTs, which people can buy, sell or simply keep as a part of their collection.
“The idea is also that before the end of the year, I will be dropping a membership card – the genesis card – so that people who have the card can have a certain number of NFTs to start their collection,” he said.
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According to Federico, there will also be a game behind it. “We’re trying to make a funny thing where, to get a new camera, you have to sell one. The goal is for people to eventually make a profit or really build their own collection.”
The social media platforms have a majority of Japanese followers and for good reason, Federico said.
He explained that during the world wars, “Japanese people really dove into the camera knowledge. It’s a de facto thing that the most interesting cameras from the war on are Japanese. The innovation and creativity of Japanese cameras is incredible. It’s no surprise that the cameras appearing in the collection are Japanese.”
Federico told Arab News Japan that the Japanese people have an “incredible respect for their cameras.”
“We do not have in Europe the same respect for these mechanics like they do in Japan, at least not at the same scale. This is translated in their camera design, there is something in their cameras that is different,” he added.
In Japan, cameras were produced on a mass scale and that is what makes their brands different.
“The concept of the Japanese being interested in picture taking came before the idea of every European having a camera, maybe because of the limited amount of holidays Japanese people used to take” Federico explained. “You can feel that in their cameras, you can feel they are built to scale.”
Typically, the microcam, a Japanese invention, is smaller than the size of a pack of cigarettes. “They are extremely light, it was weird that the concept you could go anywhere and take a picture, something inherently Japanese.”
Federico explained in the 60s and 70s, the concept of taking pictures to document everything from your pocket was not yet globalized. Compared to Europe, taking pictures at the time was not yet a trend.
In February of the coming year, the entire collection will drop, and people will be able to start trading their vintage camera NFTs.
“I want to make sure the first ones interested will get one. The moment we drop the NFTs in February, they will get a certain number of NFTs for free because they got the genesis card,” he explained.
The 99 Cameras Club is currently on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Discord with a steadily growing number of followers.