Leica Treasures: 40-year-old box of ex-factory goodies emerges
Chance encounters sometimes lead to hidden treasures. A customer of London’s Red Dot Cameras just happened to mention that his father had owned a Leica dealership many years ago in the West Country. He thought that his mother had a few bits and pieces in the attic and wondered whether or not Ivor Cooper would be interested in buying.
The box arrived last week. The outstanding thing about it was not the content, although that was desirable in itself, but the fact that everything was boxed and brand new. Presumably it was stuff that hadn’t been sold when the dealership closed down and had just been forgotten. Some of the boxes were sealed and others were still in the brown-paper Leica wrapping, as clean as the day they left the factory. The presence of two Leicina Super 8 cameras and two CL rangefinders dates this treasure trove to the mid-seventies, so roughly more than 40 years ago.
The Leicinas are new, complete with cellophane wrapping, in the box that had already been opened. The other example, still wrapped, is presumably exactly the same. The two CL rangefinders are each accompanied by pristine 40mm and 90mm lenses. There is also a new, sealed R3. The rest of the trove consists of additional lenses, including some R glass — again, all is in ex-factory condition.
How do you value such a hoard. The Leicinas are not particularly valuable, perhaps £150 each, while the CL sets, including the two lenses, would probably retail for £1,200 each. But it is difficult to place a value to take into account that these items are verifiably unused and complete with all the original packing.
The wrapped Leicina package is another mystery. Sometimes sealed boxes have a rarity value that boosts prices. In the past there have been stories of rare Leicas being sold for silly money simply because the boxes were factory sealed. Opening the box, perhaps to make a sensible check that there is indeed a camera in there and not a brick, can seriously damage your pocket. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some auction purchasers have indeed been sold carefully wrapped bricks. And x-rays of sealed boxes are not unknown.
However, such antics are not likely to take place over a Leicina or two, but the possibility is fascinating nevertheless.
Leica CL sets
Without doubt the most desirable part of the consignment comprises the CL sets. The CL was a successful little camera — too successful, according to some, and this was why it was discontinued because it was harming sales of the more expensive M4 at the time. One of the major problems in buying a used CL is the high probability that the exposure meter system is no longer operating. It is not viable to attempt a repair. However, in the case of these two boxed examples there is every possibility that everything will be in working order.
The bad news is that these items are not for sale, lest you be getting out your wallet as you read. Ivor says they are destined for the Red Dot Cameras museum.
Last week I had the opportunity to ferret around the treasure box but couldn’t lay hands on a naked CL. At the moment Ivor isn’t sure whether or not it is sensible to break the seal; it could be that they will be displayed in their original wrappings as photographed here.