In the 1920s, German manufacturer Leitz began experimenting with prototypes of handheld 35mm cameras. Designed by Oskar Barnack, the Leica 0 was the first of these prototypes, released 2 years before the first production model was available to the public in 1925. Only 22 of the 0 series were made, and today, only about a dozen still exist. Perhaps the most coveted of these handhelds is the one owned by Barnack himself, his name engraved on top. That very camera is currently up for sale as part of the company’s annual Leitz Photographica Auction, celebrating 20 years this year.
The auction consists of over 400 items from the company’s history as a leader in the handheld camera industry. Also up for grabs is a rare Leica MP, which debuted at the 1956 Photokina exhibition in Cologne. A take on the popular M3 that had come out a couple of years prior, the MP was meant for professional use by photojournalists — a trend that started with this very model. Only 412 were ever produced in its two-year run, 141 of which were painted in black, like the one for sale here which shows a natural patina around the brass edges.
Among the other standouts at the auction are a 2020 edition of a chrome Leica MP in blue leather covering to commemorate 45 years of the Leica Historica Association. 45 of these were produced in total, with the one available for auction numbered 20 and in mint condition. Additionally, an avocado green display stand is up for grabs. This beautiful piece resembles the Googie aesthetic of the 1950s-era in which it was made and sports a gold-colored Leica nameplate on the upper right corner. This stand comes with a Leica IIf red-scale camera from that period as well.
While the Leica 0 is estimated to fetch between €2,000,000 and €3,000,000 (~$2,120,080 and $3,180,120) at the auction held on June 11, the 1957 MP is estimated to go for €300,000 and €350,000 (~$318,026 and $371,030), the 45th Anniversary MP for €20,000 to €24,000 ($21,195 to $25,434), and the green camera stand with camera for €6,000 to €7,000 (~$6,355 to $7,414). Earlybird bids are available for most of the lots right now on the Leitz Auction website.
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