Tag Archives: collectible leicas

It’s Good to be King

Sheik M6

Auction house Bonhams is hosting the Fine Leica Centenary Sale in Hong Kong this Saturday, November 29. The auction spans most of the brand’s history, including cameras from the early 1930s through 2014. There are 84 lots total. Two of these are Leica ephemera (an advertisement and a display sign), seven are lenses, and the remaining 75 are camera bodies, bodies with lenses, or self-contained cameras.

Included in the auction is one of a collection of 16 Leica M6 TTLs, (shown above), made for  Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Thani, the one-time owner of the world’s most expensive watch.  Sixteen Leica M6 Al-Thani cameras were made to be used as prizes for the winners of the annual Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Thani Photography Competition held in Qatar. This camera was won by Robert Fulton of Scotland for his image “Winter Trees,” which was the overall winner of the Al-Thani Grand Prix 2013. This camera is believed to be only the second example to have been offered at auction.

It is expected to fetch $40,000 to $57,000.

Sheik

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In addition, Bonhams is also auctioning a Luxus Leica, with gilt top and base plates and fittings, red faux snakeskin body covering and matching Elmar f/3.5 50mm lens, the camera that started the over-the-top Leica luxury edition craze some 90 years ago, proving that arguably tasteless collector editions have been part of Leica’s DNA since the beginning. It’s expected to fetch between $480,000 and $640,000, exclusive of Bonham’s 25% commission.

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Black Paint Leica MP 39* to be Auctioned in Stockholm

MP 39 1 MP 39 2 MP 39 3 MP 39 4 MP 39 5

Up for auction December 6, 2014 at LPfoto Auctions in Stockholm, a rare duplicate numbered black paint MP with Leicavit:

Leitz Wetzlar, 1957, Black paint, Double stroke, a duplicate from an original series MP13-MP150, with matching black Leicavit MP. A extremely rare camera, in original condition except body housing with small strap lugs and self timer, with matching chassis number P-39* inside the camera. This is the only MP we have ever seen with a duplicate number, not two Leica cameras have the same serial number. If Leica ever almost duplicated a number, the second item had a star added after its otherwise identical serial number. In good working order, with dark brassy patina after hard professional use.

Starting auction price is 350,000 Swedish Krona (approx $47,500 US dollars). Clearly, this MP has seen more than its share of “hard professional use.” Frankly, it looks like something your heirs would find in a box in your attic and throw in the trash. I suggest whoever ends up with this thing should at least spend the extra $25 for a new vulcanite cover at http://aki-asahi.com/. Hell, while you’re at it, why not have Shintaro repaint it for you?

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Probably the nicest M being auctioned is a black paint 1960,  Single stroke M3 with L service seal, from original black paint series 993501-993750.  It’s been beautiful restored to new condition by the Leitz factory in the 1980’s with new and vintage parts and then never used. Starting auction price is $6750 US Dollars. Now THIS is a beautiful M3.

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In addition to the MP and M3 noted above,   LPfoto is auctioning a number of other interesting collectible Leicas, including:

Leica IIIg LPfoto 1Leica IIIg LPfoto 2

Leitz Wetzlar, 1960, Black paint, from an original series 987901-988025, with Leitz Summaron 2.8/35mm No.1678210 (BC) and front cap, rear top plate and lens with “Triple crown” engraving. A great rarity, only 125 ex in black paint made for the Swedish army 1960, and this beautiful camera is in a very clean 100% original condition and never restored, and even rarer with Summaron 35mm lens (approx. 30 lenses made). Provenance: Bought by the owner at FFV Allmaterial (=Military surplus), Ursvik 1977. 

Starting auction price 390,000 Swedish Krona (approx $52,750 US Dollars)

Leica IIIg LPfoto 10 Leica IIIg LPfoto 11

Leitz Wetzlar, 1960, Black paint, from an original series 987901-988025, with Leitz Elmar 2.8/50mm No.1636136 (B, Filter rim with one minor dent), rear top plate and lens with “Triple crown” engraving. A great rarity, only 125 ex in black paint made for the Swedish army 1960, and this camera is in 100% original condition with dark brassy patina and never restored. Provenance: Bought by the owner at FFV Allmaterial (=Military surplus), Ursvik 1977. Slow shutter speeds irregular.

Starting auction price is 350,000 Swedish Krona (approx $47,500 US dollars).

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Yevgeni Khaldei’s “Reichstag Leica” To Be Auctioned

Reichstag

The camera used to take an iconic image that came to symbolize the Russian victory over Nazi Germany is to go on sale at auction this November in Hong Kong. Photographer Yevgeni Khaldei, who worked for the Soviet news agency TASS, shot the image of Russian soldiers waving the Hammer and Sickle flag from the top of the Reichstag using a Leica III, sometime after the building had been captured.yevgeni-khaldeis-leicaRussian Reichstag Dude

The camera, bearing the serial number 257492 is accompanied by an Elmar f/3.5 50mm lens with the serial number 471366 and is set to be auctioned on 30th November. Auctioneers Bonhams has set a guide price of $HK 3,000,000-4.500,000 (equivalent to £230,000-340,000 or $390,000-580,000).

Reichstag Camera

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Buying a Black Paint M3 on Ebay. Caveat Emptor.

fake BP1

Black paint Leica M3’s are rare, as in really rare. And, like all Leica rarities, they’re expensive. One recently sold at  auction in Hong Kong for $472,00.00.  So, imagine my surprise when a “Leica M3 100% Original Black Paint Finish – With Original Documents,” above, showed up on Ebay with a No Reserve starting price of $.99, complete with ample paperwork  from Leitz, NY proving its provenance. The seller (he of two feedback) apparently bought the camera from an estate sale:

  • Leica M3 in original black lacquer finish – Early Double Stroke
  • I recently found this entire set an estate sale. I have been a member of eBay since 1999. I recently started this new account. There is no reason for concern because any potential buyers will be protected under the buyer protection plan established by eBay and Paypal
  • M3 comes with original receipt, guarantee, and gold tag
  • All serial numbers match and you can verify that Leica made Black M3’s during this Serial Range by going to this website (L-camera-forum)
  • L Seal is intact on Camera
  • Camera come with its original brass body cap – made by Leica for their black cameras
  • Auction has plenty of original brochures and manuals (see photo)
  • Camera has glass film Plate
  • Camera is operating perfectly and firing at all speeds
  • Timer is working correctly
  • Viewfinder is clean and clear
  • Camera has been tested recently and takes wonderful photos
  • This camera has to be the rarest camera on eBay currently, a very early run of Leica’s Black finished M3’s
  • Kind Regards

fake BP3

fake BP2

Is the camera a “real” black paint M3? Who knows. Suffice it to say that there are numerous red flags that suggest its a fake: according to Leica’s records, before the original black paint MP’s, from no. 13 to no. 150 (1957), just after batch M3 882001-886700, no black M’s were made; the vulcanite looks suspiciously new; and the wear looks just a bit contrived. The amount of supporting paperwork also seems contrived, too comprehensive for a camera that was used as much as this one purports to have been (in my mind, somebody who would hold onto all that original paperwork and sales brochures, i.e. with an eye to posterity, probably would have treated the camera a little better).

Fake

But….Leica’s records, unfortunately, are incomplete, because the verified black paint M3 sold at Hong Kong auction this past May is serial number 746572. And this guy seems to think his, serial number 779019, is legit too. It is known that Leica would produce black paint M’s on order – even before the first “official” black paint M3s were produced in 1957/58.  Keep in mind: in 1955 black Leica’s were not “collectible”; maybe the original owner, a Busby Cattenach from Wisconsin, simply wanted a black camera, ponied up his $324 and had Leitz, NY send him one special, and 45 years later some guy with a new Ebay account and two feedbacks grabbed it for a few hundred bucks at an estate sale in New Jersey. It could happen.

Whatever’s up with this camera, it’s no longer for sale on Ebay, having been pulled down after a day or so on site, which is a shame, since I’d already configured my Bidnip account to bid it up to $2100 at the last moment. So much for scoring an under-the-radar deal on Ebay.

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A Metered Leica M2?

M2-6

I ran across this camera on photo.net. Apparently it’s a metered M2 (note the battery cover on the front of the chassis) coupled with a Leicavit. My best guess is that it’s an M6 chassis with an M2 top plate. Whatever, its beautiful. I have no idea of the story behind it, although I’m certain Leica never officially built one.

M2-6 2

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For Just $40,000 You Can Photograph Your Cat With a Titanium MP

 

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Above is a used Leica MP. It’s made of titanium. It’s currently for sale at the Miami Leica store for $39,995. First come, first served.

The Leica MP Titanium (0.72) camera was introduced in April 2007 to commemorate the 1st anniversary of the opening of Leica Store Ginza in Tokyo, Japan. It was produced exclusively for the Japanese market and was available only at the Ginza store in Japan. All exterior metal parts and fittings are made of titanium, similar to the Leica M7 Titanium and the Leica M9 Titan. The camera weighs approximately 90 grams less than a regular MP.  A signed (by then-CEO of Leica Steven Lee) certificate of authenticity is included.

Which gets me thinking: if I had $40,000 burning a hole in my pocket and I wanted a titanium 35mm film camera of exceptional quality, I could always go to Ebay and pick up a nice titanium Contax G1 for less than $125. And I’d still have $39,875 left for film. Of course, it’s not a Leica, but it’s a damn fine camera with a host of truly exceptional dedicated Zeiss lenses, each the equal of the latest stratospherically priced Leica offerings. And it has ‘modern’ features that the Leica lacks, like Auto Focus and Auto Exposure and a built in motor drive, all housed in a beautiful titanium body, just like the $40k MP. But that’s not the point, is it?

Contax G1

“Collectors,” the sort of people who would buy a titanium MP, aren’t buying one so they can use it to take pictures. You’re not going to see a stubbled photojournalist pulling one from a beat up rucksack in some third world hot spot. I get that. And, given the crazy prices collectible Leicas go for, you can easily make the argument that a titanium MP might be a pretty safe investment. But….

Being old enough to remember when beat up Leicas were routinely pulled out of rucksacks in third world hot spots, I’m still emotionally married to the idea of the Leica as a functioning photographic tool. Call me a relic, but that’s why they’ve always appealed to me: traditional Leicas – the M2, M3, M4, and to a lesser extent the M5 and M6 – were the simplest of photographic tools. Nothing more than the strictly necessary features, nothing that presumed to do the thinking for you. Of course, that minimalist ethic is long dead photographically. Pick up the latest issue of PDN and every young up and coming hotshot has a big plasticky Nikon or Canon with a lens the size of an RPG launcher draped around his or her neck, extolling the necessity of its’ 100 Point Matrix Auto Focus. Or, even more depressing, go over to Rangefinder Forum or your favorite photo forum and join the discussion about which bag goes best with your M240 and attached Noctilux; while there, you can post pictures of your cat taken at full aperture.

Maybe its this obscene denigration of Leica’s real history that has caused throw back Leicas like the titanium MP to have become fetish objects commanding insane prices, collectors attempting to hearken back to an era where cameras were not computers but simple, reliable mechanical instruments. In my mind, however, a better way to scratch that itch is a buy a “real” Leica, a beat up M4, say, on Ebay. You can find beautiful examples for under $1000, cameras you’ll actually use to photograph things. With the money you’ve saved, you can travel the world for a few years all the while documenting your travels with your beloved M4. Or you can just stay home and photograph your cat with your Noctilux wide open. Either way, you win. And you’ll have plenty of money left for that fancy Filson bag.

 

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Takahashi “Jewelryware” M4

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This is a Takahashi Leica M4. Takahashi was a Japanese painter and engraver well renowned in the 70′s and 80′s for his extremely highly detailed and precision repainting and engraving work. This particular M4 has been refinished with a crystalline stone fleck coating, known as ‘Jewelleryware Coating’ in Japan. According to Bellamy Hunt of Japan Camera Hunter,  this is the last camera Takahashi painted before retiring. 

It certainly is beautiful, although I’m not sure what you’d do with it other than putting it up on a shelf and admiring it, which seems to me a bit of a waste.

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Black Paint M3 w/ Lenses Sells for $472,000

BP M3 5414 1

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.

BP M3 5414 2 BP M3 5414 3

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. 

BP M3 5414 4

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.

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Arguably “Tasteless” Leica Luxury Editions Go Way Back

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.

LeicaM6platinum_Sultan_C

 

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.

Leica1 calf leather

 

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.

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