If you have ever wanted to own a piece of Leica history, and and an extremely rare collector's item? Then you need to get your bidding card ready for the Leitz Photographica Auction. The renowned auction house is now celebrating its 20th anniversary and it is also holding the world's largest auction of historic cameras for the 40th time this year.
Among the unique collectibles and extraordinary examples of camera history up for auction, on 11 June at the Leitz Park in Wetzlar, Germany, an exceptional highlight that stands out is the Leica 0-Series No.105 produced in 1923.
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The 0-Series, a batch of prototypes, holds a special appeal for collectors of historically significant technical artifacts. Before the Leitz Camera – Leica for short – went into production in the mid-Twenties and made the 35mm format the new standard for professional photographers, approximately 20 examples of the 0-Series were manufactured. Around a dozen of them are estimated to still be in existence today.
The 0-Series No.105 is not only exceptional because of its rarity, it was also one of the personal cameras of Oskar Barnack – the inventor of 35mm photography, whose name adorns the viewfinder of the camera. Barnack used the 105 to capture motifs from his family life, gaining technical insights that he then applied to the further development of the camera and its succeeding models.
The historical significance of the 0-Series No.105 as well as its famous previous owner are reflected in its estimated price of €2-3 million (roughly $3.3 million / £2.5 million), with the starting bid standing at $1.1 million. To put these sums in perspective, the world's most expensive camera to date – the 0-Series No.122 – sold at the 32nd Leitz Photographica Auction in 2018 for $2.6 million (£1.9 million) including buyer’s premium.
Also included in this prestigious auction is the charity lot, the proceeds of which will be donated to charities in Austria and, for the first time, Germany. To celebrate Leitz Photographica Auction's anniversary, a unique camera set will be auctioned off for a good cause: the analogue Leica MP with the serial number 5630769, and the Leica Elmar-M 1:2.8/50 with the serial number 3739015, are unique pieces that stem from a cooperation between Leica Camera AG and Leitz Photographica Auction.
The decorative metal exterior parts of the camera were coated with a layer of real gold by means of electroplating. The camera's top plate has a further special feature, as it does not bear any of the typical Leica engravings. The serial number is discreetly engraved on the underside of the winding lever, making this particular MP unique. The set is complemented by a black Elmar-M, reworked directly at Leica Camera AG in Wetzlar. Instead of the usual engravings laid out in white paint, this lens has gold-colored engravings to match the camera.
Leitz Photographica Auction is one of the world’s leading auction houses for classic and vintage cameras and photographica, and is now firmly established on the international scene. Bids for the auction on June 11 can be submitted in advance, online (opens in new tab), or via live bidding during the auction on-site at Hotel Bristol in Vienna.
There is no denying theses prices are astronomical, but each piece holds a particular milestone of history in the way in which we know photography today, and the gold Leica MP is just a thing of pure beauty… anyone have a spare $22,000?