Kiev John Player Special

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Dating from 1978 this is a Kiev 30 (23mm (f3.5-11); 1/30-1/250. 13x17mm format) concealed inside a package of "John Player cigarettes". Supposedly, these cameras were designed by the KGB to use in the United Kingdom. It is very unlikely that this was a KGB design as the camera would never pass for a packet of cigarettes except by the most cursory glance and some variations lack the space for a real cigarette. These seem to have been engineered in the Ukraine to sell to gullible westerners and where first sold for 2000USD. Now typically under 100USD they are an interesting addition to the Kiev family of subminiatures.

The top of the camera is open, showing the filters of fake cigarettes. One butt sticking out is used to advance the film. The normal aperture and shutter speed setting are at the bottom of the pack.

The most common version is shown below. It was sold in a larger, fake, JPS cardboard box with a spare film cartridge. 


The second and third sample shown below appear to have space for a real cigarette. The one above clearly does not. The fourth (not shown) is of very poor construction.

Model John Player Special
Serial #  
Finish/colour matt black
Purchased 2002/02/21
Date of Manufacture  
Cost 108USD
Current Value  
Auction Price Ebay *2002/02/21 108USD, 2002/04/20 240EUR (3rd type), 2005/03/08 77.99USD, 2003/02/28 73.67USD, 2004/11/05 107.50USD, 2005/06/19 103.50USD, 2005/08/26 85USD, 2005/10/24 80USD, 2006/01/09 79.99USD, 2006/01/28 85USD, 2006/02/14 29.99GBP , 2006/03/05 99USD (type 3), 2006/03/25 170EUR+commission (type 1), 2006/04/16 99.99USD (type 1), 2006/09/20 56USD (type 1, box), 2006/10/07 99USD, 2006/10/28 37.50USD (boxed), 2007/06/19 144.16AUD (61.24GBP, type 1), 2008/04/02 101.88USD (type 1), 2008/04/22 65USD (type 1), 2008/04/24 49USD (type 1), 2008/04/25 70GBP (type 1), 2008/05/17 45USD (type 3)


Four types of JPS special have been seen. Three of which are compared below.


Last Updated on 5th June 2008