$356,000 Nikon L prototype headlines Wetzlar Camera Auction

$357,000 Nikon L prototype headlines Wetzlar Camera Auction
(Image credit: Wetzlar Camera Auctions)

An ultra rare prototype of the Nikon L is the headline item of the next Wetzlar Camera Auctions, with an estimated top selling price of €356,687 ($357,000 / £268,715 / AU$487,871). 

Considered "historically significant", this experimental Nikon L 35mm body may be the earliest example of a Nikon prototype featuring a Leica screw thread (before the manufacturer settled on using the Zeiss Contax mount). 

The base plate features the engraving "MADE IN OCCUPIED JAPAN". Adding further to the colorful nature of the auction lot, the camera comes with a Canon Serenar 50mm f/1.9 lens. 

"The camera would appear to be based on an earlier design than that of the Nikon I. The MIOJ and NIPPON KOGAKU TOKYO engravings in block letters represent the earliest style of engravings, as to be found on Nikon I cameras numbers 6091 and 6094," notes the official auction listing

"Unlike later experimental Nikon cameras with Leica screw thread, such as the L1101 in the Nikon Museum or other cameras based on Nikon M and S models, this camera with the number L11004 appears to be number 4 of an L1100 series.

"[It] comes from the very early stage of development for a Nikon 35 mm camera, when it had not yet been decided whether to opt for the Leica screw thread or the 'Contax' bayonet. In any case, no other example of such an early Nikon prototype camera with Leica screw thread has appeared. Historically significant!"

Between this rare slice of company history, the 40th anniversary of the Nikon F, and the release of the manufacturer's latest mirrorless camera, the Nikon Z5, it's been a fascinating month for Nikon's heritage!

The Wetzlar Camera Auctions Auction 2 takes place on 10 October 2020. To see all the lots, including a huge selection of rare Leicas, visit the official website.

Read more: 

The best film cameras: recapture the magic of film photography
The best Nikon camera: including Nikon DSLRs, Nikon Z and Coolpix compacts
Nikon Z5 review

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.