Results from the 5th Wetzlar Camera Auctions: 3.5 million euros for a 100-year old Leica camera

The results from the 5th Wetzlar Camera Auctions are out – 3.5 million euros was paid for a 100-year-old Leica camera:

Additional information:

Wetzlar (wca). At the fifth auction by Wetzlar Camera Auctions (WCA) for historical cameras and accessories, a total of 259 lots were auctioned last Saturday. The majority of these were Leica cameras.

Right at the start of the auction, lot number 5 achieved an extraordinary result. The camera from the Leica 0 series from 1923 was finally sold for EUR 3.5 million after a starting price of EUR 800,000. This is the second highest price ever achieved at auction for a camera in the world. The camera came from an Italian private collection and was last sold there 30 years ago. Two years before the Leica was launched on the market, 22 to 25 of these cameras were created for testing purposes, of which 16 are currently known worldwide. Based on the assessment of the Leica 0 series by the experts involved, Ernst Leitz II decided in 1924 to serial-produce the camera designed by Oskar Barnack. The “revolution in photography” that was initiated as a result, took its course. The Leica 0 series is therefore not just the prototypes of the Leica, but the prototypes of all 35 mm cameras to date.

“Exactly 100 years after this camera was manufactured here in Wetzlar, we were now able to auction it here in Wetzlar – an honor for our auction house and of course an absolute highlight in our company history,” emphasized WCA co-owner Lars Netopil (Wetzlar).

Some astonishing results were once again achieved for particularly rare items.

The prototype of the Leica IIIc from 1934 was finally sold for EUR 400,000 after a starting price of EUR 80,000.
Another unusually high result of EUR 162,500 was achieved for a Leica M3 from the former German Military (Bundeswehr) in a NATO olive green version from 1966, after a starting price of EUR 30,000.

Spectacular results were also achieved again for the rare black painted Leica M cameras and lenses from the 1950s and 60s. An early black-painted Leica M2 with two matching black-painted lenses from 1958 was also sold for EUR 162,500. An extremely early black-painted Leica M4 with a Leicavit-MP rapid-winder fetched an impressive EUR 112,500.

WCA co-owner Jo Geier (Vienna): “While you can buy today’s Leica M models in black or silver, only silver-chrome versions were available in the regular sales program at the time. The black-painted Leica M cameras and lenses were produced in very small quantities only for press photographers, who generally did not handle their photographic equipment particularly carefully. So, such a camera in fine original condition is now an absolute rarity and demand from collectors worldwide remains extremely strong. This explains the exceptionally high prices sometimes achieved in this area.”

The rare Leica lenses once again made up a particularly interesting section in the auction catalogue this year. Two prototypes of the early Summilux lenses with 35 and 50 mm focal lengths from around 1960 were sold for an astonishing EUR 275,000 and EUR 137,500. A test sample of the famous first Leitz Noctilux lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.2 from 1964 also found a new owner for EUR 137,500. A 1200 mm Leitz Telecron lens achieved a hammer price of EUR 93,750. This super-telephoto lens was created for experimental purposes in just three units for the Munich Olympics in 1972, but was later never serial-produced.

When it comes to top pieces, it has been shown in recent years that WCA achieves top prices not only in the Leitz / Leica area, but also for collectibles in photographica of other brands.
Against this background, a particularly spectacular result was achieved by an extremely rare Nikon super telephoto zoom lens with a focal length of 1200-1700 mm from the 1990s, which at the time was only made to special order and of which only around 35 units were delivered. Several telephone and online bidders connected engaged in an exciting bidding war, so that the lens was finally sold for an incredible EUR 425,000. This is the highest price ever achieved for a Nikon lens at auction in the world.

Wetzlar Camera Auctions’ next auction will take place on October 12, 2024. Consignments are being accepted immediately. Information at

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