Leitz Photographica auction 36: Leica highlights

The 36th Leitz Photographica auction will take place on June 13th, 2020. The entire catalog will be published online and printed in mid-May. Here are the Leica highlights that include a very rare M2 gray paint Betriebskamera, the personal M2 of the legendary photographer Walker Evans and a 0-series prototype:

0-series prototype (€800,000 – 1,000,000)

The famous transitional prototype camera placed historically between the Ur-Leica and the first 0-Series production models. It is a very interesting hybrid showing the progress of the technical development from a prototype to the early production camera.

Only two similar prototypes are known to exist. The other one is finished in brass and has been illustrated and thoroughly described by Dr. Günter Kisselbach in ‘Barnack’s Erste Leica’ (Barnack’s First Leica). Both share nearly the same external features and are equipped with the same tubular finder.

The offered camera has undergone several modifications in its lifespan. Apparently, it served as a test camera for several years. It shows signs of many alterations to the chassis and mechanisms inside. For example, it was equipped initially with an early type folding finder, it was later replaced with a tubular finder, but the signs of this modification are still present inside of the camera. The lens can be identified as a very early 5-element design, most probably ‘BK 50/II’ of 1920/21. The camera has been finished to its final form around 1938 – probably for display purposes.

Included in this lot is detailed expertise from Mr. Ottmar Michaely. The historical importance of this special camera has been confirmed by numerous Leica experts like Paul-Henry van Hasbroeck, Lars Netopil or Ottmar Michaely.

Exactly this camera is illustrated in P.-H. van Hasbroeck ‘The Leica – A History Illustrating Every Model and Accessory – Revised Edition’ (photo I in the illustrated preface). It is an important milestone in Leica history and a unique opportunity for serious collectors!

Leica M2 grey paint betreibskamera (€400,000 – 500,000)

In 1960 twenty grey-painted M2 cameras were delivered to the US Air Force in Germany. Out of these only ten cameras are believed still to exist, which makes the grey M2 is one of the rarest production Leicas ever.

The offered camera is an original pre-production sample of the grey M2. It shows the same, exceptional grey-paint finish, and includes some unique features. The serial number 2071 is among a batch of Leica M2 Betriebskameras (2001-2082) produced between 1958-1962, of which the no.2071 is the only grey painted known to exist. Unlike the serial production cameras, it is missing the 135mm framelines.

The technical highlight of the camera is, however, hidden inside. Both shutter blinds are not made out of the usual fabric but are made of metal, coated in black paint. Until now, only a few shutter prototypes have been known with this special feature.

Included in this lot is written expertise from Mr. Ottmar Michaely confirming the originality of this unique camera. This is, without a doubt, one of the most special Leicas we have ever seen!

Leica M2 black paint “Walker Evans” (€40,000 – 50,000)

Original black paint M2, owned and used by the famous U.S. photographer Walker Evans, incl. leather strap, screw-mount 8-element Summicron 2/35mm no.1671593, 12571J hood, Provenance: a personal and professional assistant of Mr. Evans who received his camera as a gift.

Mr. Evans bought this camera in 1962 and used it for as long as he used the 35mm format, until 1973 (when he began to use a Polaroid SX-70 almost exclusively). Also included in the lot are two books: Jerry L. Thompson ‘The Last Years of Walker Evans’ and James R. Mellow ‘Walker Evans’ – both include photos Evans made with Leica camera.

Walker Evans (1903-1975) was an American photographer and photojournalist. He is widely acknowledged as one of the most important photographers of the twentieth century and worked primarily in the US. His enormous artistic influence has been recognized not only there, but also internationally.

He is best known for his work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) documenting the effects of the Great Depression on the rural population in the Mid 1930s. The portraits of the three families Fields, Borroughs and Tingle became icons of photography history.

After 1945, Evans photographed, among others, American urban landscapes and industrial buildings for magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Architectural Forum, Life and Fortune. Because of his documentary style, he is considered the forerunner of the German photographer couple Bernd and Hilla Becher.

In 1938 the MoMa organized the first exhibition for a single photographer for Walker Evans: American Photographs. Since then, many of his works are in permanent collections of museums or have been the subject of retrospectives at institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the George-Eastman Museum or the Centre Pompidou.

Leica M6 gold “Sultan of Brunei” (€30,000 – 35,000)

Special version of the gold edition M6, issued for the 50th birthday of the Sultan of Brunei, in mint condition, with matching, gold-plated Summilux 1.4/35mm ASPH no.3750085 (minimal marks from the hood), in a special wooden box. Only 125 of these rare sets have been issued!

Leica IIIG black paint “Swedish Military” (€40,000 – 50,000)

An extremely rare military Leica IIIg in original, unrestored condition, with matching Elmar 2.8/5cm no.1635364.

Black paint variants of Leica cameras from the 1950s are usually versions for press photographers. In one case, however, a military client also decided on the less conspicuous black finish: for the Swedish military Leitz produced 100 Leica IIIf cameras as well as 125 IIIg cameras in the black paint finish. The IIIg cameras bore the serial numbers 987901 – 988025 and were additionally engraved with the three “Crowns of Sweden” on the rear side of the top plate. The Elmar 2.8/5cm lenses were finished in silver chrome and engraved with the same emblem.

It is one of the most attractive Leica cameras ever made.

Elcan 1/90MM lens (€40,000 – 50,000)

An extremely rare lens in excellent condition and with clean optics and complete with all four distance rings (4457 for infinity, 4149 for 100m, 4149 for 50m and 4149 for 20m). The 20m ring is the original, made by Leica. All the other rings, as well as the lens mount, were made by Ottmar Michaely in Germany to the original specifications.

Leitz Canada’s lens design legend Dr Walter Mandler was not only responsible for lenses such as the famous 50 mm Noctilux f/1.0 or the 180 mm APO-Telyt f/3.4, but also breathtaking lens designs made to military orders. The 90 mm Elcan-M f/1.0 lens (C164) is, without any doubt the most stunning Leica lens designed by Dr Mandler and made by Leitz Canada for the U.S. Navy.

The lens was designed as a fixed-focus system, with setting rings for different focal distances. Only ten 90 mm F/1.0 Elcan lenses have been completed, the one offered here is the second made.

Summicron 2/5cm lens prototype (€100,000 – 120,000)

An extremely rare Summicron 5cm prototype lens in original M-mount, equipped with two focusing tabs – only one with infinity lock, in beautiful, near-mint condition, very good optics with only minimal cleaning marks. This is the correct lens for Leica M3 prototypes and 0-series!

Additional information is available at www.leitz-auction.com.

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