Leica: "The Ultimate Camera" as lauded in period literature
I'm a sucker for old camera literature, especially magazine advertisements, and I love to pore over the wonderful descriptions the manufacturers gave to period cameras. There's an excellent crop of informative eye-candy here on Leicaphilia and it is well worth a pore or two
My favourite compendium of Leica advertising lore Friedrich Rüttinger's slim volume of pre- and post-war advertising plates first published in 1986. It's now available (link below) in softback format from Amazon. Published by Wittig Books, it is in German and English.
The ads and descriptions in this little book are absolutely fascinating. For instance, in 1937 Wallace Heaton in London's New Bond Street was offering new Leica bodies from £18.5s.0d. And for £46.9s.6d you could have a top-of-the-range camera, presumably a III similar to my 1935 black-paint version but in the more expensive chrome, a "finest lens" lens (probably a 5cm Elmar), a case, filters and some film. £47 in 1937 represents approximately £3,000 in current buying power.
Also of more than passing interest are the immediate pre-war advertisements in German publications: In 1933, "with 13 Leicas on board, the Graf Zeppelin set off for the Artic." Prof. Samoilowitsch, the scientific leader of the exhibition, is pictured with his trusty Leica.
The following year an advertisement in Der Woche was advising readers to "bring your Summer home: Children playing on the beach, rock climbing, the joy of holidaying on land and water—all your unrepeatable Summer experiences are yours to keep. With the Leica."
Later, in 1940, we have a young man, wearing what looks suspiciously like an HJ uniform, flying his kite for Leica. But by 1943, with no cameras for consumers, a less optimistic note had set in: "Take care of your Leica. It is now irreplaceable". This theme of non-availability was continued until advertising petered out a couple of years before the end of the war.
Later, those hitherto irreplaceable cameras were going for a couple of packs of cigarettes and being carried off to the USA, UK or Russia. In cash-strapped post-war Britain new Leicas were virtually unavailable until the early 1950s. Even then a special import licence was required.
The book continues with Leica advertising in Germany, the UK and the USA during the later 1940s and early fifties.
You can buy the book here from Amazon UK (it is also available from Amazon.de):