Yup. That’s a Leica M6.
LEICA M3 SERIAL NO. 746572 1955
Sold at auction, price HK$ 3,658,000 ($472,000 US Dollars) L&H Auction, Hong Kong, May 3, 2014.
This is the 2nd Black Paint M3 camera ever made and the lowest number known to still exist. The camera has the earliest features found on the M3, including an early style rewind knob and four holding screws for the top plate. The camera has also had a factory conversion for use with the Leicavit-MP, although the automatically resetting frame counter was kept with the help of a Leica M4-sytle counter resetting mechanism, which makes this a very unusual and probably unique Black Paint M3/MP camera.
The camera sold with three very early black paint lenses with both lens caps. The first lens is an early Summicron-M 2/5cm (#1587297) in brass mount with a factory conversion. The infinity lock for the focus ring was taken off so the owner, who was a professional photographer, could use it without blocking the lens. The second is a very rare Summilux-M 1.4/35mm (#1730613) without the spectacles and with chrome front ring, one of the most sought after M lenses. The third is a Summilux-M 1.4/50mm which comes from the first batch with brass mount. The design of its knurl on the focusing barrel is unusual and can only be found on a few other very early Summilux and also some of the Summilux prototypes (i.e. Summarit 1.4/50mm).
This camera is extremely rare because it is the second one of the first batch of only six black painted M3 and it retains the original four screw top plate.
The moral of this story: hold on to that Leica C ‘Hello Kitty’ shooter of yours. In 60 years it could be worth some serious money.
As Leica has increasingly moved away from its historic origins as a working camera and been transformed into a luxury commodity, it has been criticized by purists for what many think a craven pandering to excess – witness the “Sultan of Brunei” Special Edition Leica of 1995.
The reality is somewhat different. As early as 1929, only 4 years removed from the introduction of the original Leica A, Leitz was offering “for a small extra fee” a dyed calf leather covering in place of the standard vulcanite. The discriminating Leicaphile had the choice of 4 different colors: green, blue, red or brown. In the same year, Leitz also introduced the “Luxus Leica,” a standard Leica A plated in matte gold and covered with red lizard skin.
A rare calf-leather covered Leica A from 1930 – one of only three examples known to exist – sold for 120,000 Euros in 2011. Unlike the gold-plated Luxus, the calf-leather Leica A is understated, and in my opinion very beautiful.
In 1957, Leitz offered a gold plated M3 complete with gold meter and collapsible Summicron; in 1979, a 1000 unit run of gold M4-2’s were produced with gold accented Summilux; and in 1984 a 1000 unit run of gold R4’s. All proof that tastelessness and wretched excess have co-existed since the beginning with leicaphilia.