Univex Mercury CC-1500

The Universal Camera Corporation found great success in the early/mid 1930s by selling very inexpensive cameras and film. By the late 30s, however, the camera-buying public had shown an increasing interest in high-end imports such as the Leica and Contax lines, and the simple plastic still cameras offered by Universal up to that point were no competition. Universal rectified the matter in October of 1938, with the release of the Univex Mercury (Model CC).

 

Cast from an aluminum alloy and covered with leather, the Mercury was not only unlike anything Universal had offered before, it was actually a revolutionary achievement in the industry. I won't go into all the features, but two are worth noting: First was the unique rotary shutter (responsible for the circular protrusion on top of the camera), capable of extremely accurate speeds up to 1/1000th of a second. Secondly, the Mercury was the first camera to have internal flash synchronization, known today as the hot shoe.

German-made cameras from Leitz and Zeiss were selling for hundreds of dollars, making the American-made Mercury a VERY appealing alternative at a mere $25. Nonetheless, producing America's fastest candid camera did not satisfy Universal, as the Contax II claimed a shutter speed of 1/1250. Thus, in June of 1939, Universal introduced the Mercury Model CC-1500, named after its top shutter speed.

 

For collectors, the CC-1500 is a rare find, as only (an estimated) 3,000 were manufactured, compared to approximately 45,000 of the standard Mercury Model CC. The example pictured here is equipped with a Wollensak f/3.5 Tricor lens, and sold new in 1939 for $29.75. The camera was also available with a Hexar f2.0 lens (rare today), an option that more than doubled the price of the outfit to a whopping $65!

 

If you're still reading this and, for some reason, would like to know more, click on over to this page at Rick Oleson's site.

  • Ken Carr 6y

    Very nice photograph of this camera. I believe I have one in my collection somewhere. I always liked it because of the odd shape. A camera that looks different from all the others is one that is worth learning about.
  • Phil Lewis 6y

    This is a great camera for your collection, John! I have a Mercury II, but this sounds absolutely priceless in comparison. You always take such great photos of your cameras, too! Good work!
  • John Kratz PRO 6y

    Thank you Ken!

    Phil,
    I have a Mercury II as well, and have had it for almost two years, but I never got around to photographing it. I will take care of that soon though! Thanks for the compliments! :o)
  • Agustin Barrutia 6y

    how much for a cc1500 with hexar? and with the regular lens???
  • John Kratz PRO 6y

    My price guide puts a value of $200-300 on the CC-1500 with the Hexar, and half of that for the camera with the f/2.7 or f/3.5 Tricor.
  • Agustin Barrutia 6y

    Thanks!! Its a camera that always atracted me.. but people here in the streets are nuts they ask for 80/120 uSs for the cheap model.
  • Juan Felipe Gómez PRO 6y

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called MUSEE DE LA PHOTO, and we'd love to have this added to the group!
  • Ant Eye 6y

    fascinating machine!
  • alexkerhead 6y

    Gorgeous!
  • Paola Marinangeli 6y

    Dear John,
    have just bought one, CC type and to tell you the truth, I have decided to search for a Mercury (very rare to be found in Europe, quite impossible in Italy ), after I noticed this unusual and fascinating camera in yr Gallery and inside another collector's in Flickr community that I am following because I like both collections and photos. So...in a way you are responsible for my decision to have this American beauty in my collection and I am very glad abt it.
    Your collection is SUPER and your technical notes are so precise and useful particularly for people like me, who just started to collect Classic Cameras and have a lot, a lot to learn.
    Thanks
    Paola
  • John Kratz PRO 6y

    Thank you so much, Paola!
  • Marino M. 5y

    Beautiful gear!
    Astonishing collection yours..!
  • rare_colors 5y

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Camera Nerds -- A safe haven for all camera enthusiasts , and we'd love to have this added to the group!
  • Izaskun Gonzalez 5y

    You have an amazing collection
  • John Kratz PRO 5y

    Thank you!
  • Rick Oleson PRO 4y

    oh, i need, i need.......
  • old_cameras 4y

    great)
  • Hans Kerensky PRO 4y

    Thanks for adding this photo to the Camera-Wiki Flickr group :
    www.flickr.com/groups/camerawiki/

    It appears here in Camera-Wiki :
    camera-wiki.org/wiki/Mercury
  • Schizoo from Paris PRO 3y

    I've learned something today.

    thanks for sharing.
  • Romuald Swieconek 3y

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Taken on May 6, 2009
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