The FIRST EVER die-cast Leica goes to auction – how many millions will it fetch?

Leica IIIc Prototype
(Image credit: Wetzlar Camera Auctions)

Want to see an ultra-rare camera prototype that's going to be worth serious bank? The fact that it's a Leica camera probably comes as no surprise, but the fact that it's die-cast probably does. 

According to Leica Rumors this was the first ever die-cast Leica camera prototype, which was built around 1933 / 1934. And this rarity represents the earliest experimental version of what we know later would become the Leica IIIc.

But that's not all; this prototype features the opening swing-up backdoor and folding rewind crank, which were commercially introduced later in 1954 with the Leica M3, and in 1967 with the Leica M4.

So why has this 90-year-old camera suddenly popped up? Well, this remarkable piece of history will be part of the next Wetzlar Camera Auctions taking place later this year on on October 12.

(Image credit: Wetzlar Camera Auctions)

The last Leica camera to go up for auction was a Leica 0-Series that sold for $3.7 million, making it the second-highest price a camera has ever achieved at auction. In total, 259 lots were up for sale at the fifth Wetzlar Camera Auction in 2023, but it was this sought-after 100-year-old Leica that stole the heart of a very rich, very committed Leica collector. 

While this die-cast Leica IIIc prototype is 90 years old, some might say it does not have the allure of an 0-Series Leica – but I beg to differ. This camera is an important piece of history, and it clearly influenced the development of the iconic Leica-M film cameras that enthusiasts and Leica fans around the world love and adore. 

Limited information has been released about this Leica IIIc prototype but, as we get nearer to October, I'm sure all the Leica collectors and enthusiasts will be wondering just how many millions of dollars this original die-cast Leica IIIc will fetch at auction.

(Image credit: Wetzlar Camera Auctions)

Take a look at the best Leica cameras, along with the best Leica M lenses and best Leica SL lenses

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Sebastian Oakley
Ecommerce Editor

For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specializing in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound, and many more for various advertising campaigns, books, and pre/post-event highlights.

He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science, and is a Master of Arts in Publishing.  He is a member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected into BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association. 

He is familiar with and shows great interest in street, medium, and large format photography with products by Leica, Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa, and Sinar. Sebastian has also used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI, and everything in between. He now spends his spare time using his trusted Leica M-E shooting Street photography or general life as he sees it, usually in Black and White.