Every Friday morning, Tom would be at Zen Cafe in Vancouver, where other Leica enthusiasts would join him. He often brought unusual lenses with him. I have a couple of pictures of Tom taken at Zen Cafe. I have included some screen grabs of the photos I took with my Top 262, starting in late March 2016. Mostly, these were taken using lenses that Tom lent me to try. I was incredibly lucky to find out about the Zen Cafe gatherings. Tom was a wonderful and generous man, and I learned a great deal from him in the short time that I knew him.
The images below are from Michael Levy. (click to enlarge)
This is written in memory of Thomas Abrahamsson and as a tribute to Tuulikki Abrahamsson.
Tom was an inventor, a traveler, a marvelous storyteller and a kind, humorous and generous soul. He will be remembered for his creations: the Rapidwinder, in all of its manifestations, the Softie soft-release buttons, the Rapidgrip, and his photography. A modest man, he never sought celebrity and was largely indifferent to it.
The Rapidwinder is a streamlined and brilliantly simplified and more efficient version of the old complex, fragile and discontinued Leicavit. The Rapidwinder created enough of a sensation among Leica rangefinder users that Cosina Voigtländer was inspired by the Rapidwinder to make the Triggerwinder for its Bessa rangefinders. Leica came out with an improved Abrahamsson-inspired Leicavit and honored Tom by giving him a specially engraved Leicavit.
The Rapidwinder initiated my friendship with Tom and Tuulikki. It started with an inquiry from me about the Rapidwinder’s function on the M6. I followed this up with an order for a Rapidwinder to go with my M2; I picked it up in Vancouver as I would be there for a few days. Tom and Tuulikki invited me to dinner and then to dinner again the following night. Our friendship was enhanced when Tom and Tuulikki met my wife, Sawako
Through the course of a decade all four of my M2s, two of my M6s and my M7 were graced with Rapidwinders. Don Goldberg modified my M4 to accept an M6 style Rapidwinder. The Rapidwinder I especially cherish is the prototype for Barnack Leicas that Tom gave me in exchange for a test report.
Tom’s creations owe much of their success to Tuulikki Abrahamsson’s business acumen and devotion to T&T Abrahamsson – One-Off Industrial Designs in Vancouver, Canada.
Tuulikki is an accomplished photographer. While Tom shot black and white (“99.9% of the time”) Tuulikki is a colorist. Tom shot mostly in analog. Tuulikki embraced digital when it came along. Tuulikki keeps her equipment simple. She often teased us gearheads about our never-ending search for new and used camera equipment. One of my fondest memories of Tom is when I took him on a “magical mystery” tour of Osaka’s camera shops.
Tom had two rules about camera equipment. The first and most important rule was that camera equipment was to be used and not simply displayed; the more weathered from use a
camera was the more beautiful it was. His second rule was that any piece of camera equipment that he did not use for a year would be sold or traded.
Tom and Tuulikki were enthusiastic travelers, whether trekking across the Australian and Sahara deserts or living amidst the bustle of Paris. They often came to Japan, where they had many friends. They stayed with us once in Akashi.
Tom won his decisive battle against melanoma thanks to the medical facilities in Vancouver and Tuulikki’s steadfast devotion. Though the melanoma had taken a certain physical toll, Tom refused to allow it to get in the way of his exuberant lifestyle. He walked, photographed, met friends in cafés and traveled to Europe, Asia and Japan with Tuulikki. His custom-made titanium walking stick accompanied him on all his peregrinations.
Tom Abrahamsson left us all too soon. Sawako and I extend our deepest condolences to Tuulikki Abrahamsson and to her and Tom’s family members.
The great and warm spirit of Tom Abrahamsson will live forever in our memories.
The images below are from Stephan Daniel of Leica AG.
The following images are from LHSA member José Manuel Serrano Esparza, and a friend of Tom’s.