Leica Collections: The slippery path to exquisite perdition
"You do know you are a collector now", said Ivor Cooper at Red Dot Cameras as I picked up my umpteenth Elmar lens cap and a tatty old strapless leather ever-ready case. I didn't and I don't think I am. Sure enough I have a few examples of screw-mount and M Leica bodies and lenses, but I wouldn't call myself a collector. That appellation I reserve for the serious guys such as William Fagan and his one-of-every version 5cm Elmars.
But collecting is a comforting pastime. As a motorcyclist for most of my adult life I always imagined ending up as a collector of vintage motorcycles. It was a natural progression and I do have a penchant for the bikes of the 1920s and 1930s; indeed, I find the 1930s in general quite fascinating. That's one of the reasons I am so often to be found wandering around Brooklands, camera in hand.
Leicas are house trained
Sadly, any dreams of assembling a race of old motorcycles are long past. For one thing, bikes are big and heavy. For another, they need lots of space and regular servicing. They leak oil. Old cameras, in my case Leicas and their kith and kin, are a different kettle of fish. They are tempting largely because they are small and handleable. They take up so little space, seldom need servicing and are beautiful objects to behold (as is this old Brough, I might add).
Leicas are also house trained, unlike that 1935 Brough Superior pictured above. Crucially, too, they are easy to trade and find a ready market. You are unlikely to lose much, if anything, and you could even make a bit of profit if you buy wisely. This is not to say you can't turn a profit on old motorcycles; in fact they are probably an even better bet financially, but come with a convenience penalty.
My "collection", such as it is, is sits happily in a very small IKEA display case here in our Holborn offices, admired by friends and visitors alike. But I am not a collector. I repeat, I am not a collector. Perish the thought.