Leica's 1967 price list looks cheap, but not on £20 a week it isn't

Posted on by Mike Evans

While at the R.G.Lewis closing down sale today I picked up a full Leica catalogue, with prices, from November 1967. It's something I've wanted to find for a long time and I am still looking for a 1954 version right at the start of the M era. Interesting to see all these prices and reflect on how cheap they seem to us now.

An M4 body for £150 14s 8d (don't forget the eight pence) looks a positive bargain. And with an f/1.4 Summilux lens the tally is a reasonable-sounding £264 14s 5d. The M3, in 1967 a little long in the tooth, was cheaper at £143 10s 3d, or £183 18s 11d with an f/2.8 Elmar. A snip to 21st Century eyes.

But the prices of both cameras are deceptive. Fifty years ago £150, for instance, was a huge amount of money when compared with the £25-a-week average wage. As today, the Leica M was an expensive purchase. In income value, £150, equates to £5,500, a figure not a long way from the current price of an M240. As a successful journalist at the time, I never even considered the possibility of a Leica, so outlandish was the prospect of my ever affording one.

That M3 and Elmar, in good condition, would today fetch around £750, some four times its original price. But comparisons like this are deceptive because of the ravages of inflation in the last 50 years.

My apologies to early readers of this story because two whole paragraphs in the centre somehow got lost. Now reinstated.