Leica Attrape: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is
A Trap. When you think of it in these terms, Leica’s word for dummy cameras and lenses makes sense. Attrape comes from the French verb attraper, meaning to catch (a ball, or a cold for that matter) but is also used in the English sense of "being caught" or conned. From as early as the Leica III, Wetzlar has been at attraping us with a wide range of very authentic dummies, mainly intended for display purposes. As relatively inexpensive point-of-sale material, the Attrapes were also intended as a catch for opportunistic thieves.
Pre-war examples are very rare since, in many cases, the display models were cannibalised for spare parts during hostilities and immediately after the war.
Some of these Attrape cameras were even converted into working models but are given away, on later cameras, by the serial numbers which consist of five digits followed by A (you can guess what that stands for). Pre-war Attrapes had no distinctive numbering sequence.
In addition to producing the now sought-after dummy display models, Leica has charmed us over the years with cut-away demonstrators, both cameras and lenses. These were known as Schnitt models and some of them are working examples. Just think Schnitzel and you’re nearly there — it means cut or slice. If it’s not veal it must be a Leica.
Schnitt cameras were made from the IIIf onwards and cover also the IIIg and most M film cameras. If you have the space, though, why not get a large wooden display model of the M? There were a few examples based on pre-war cameras but the most common ones feature the M3. None are based on the M2 or later cameras are recorded.
- All examples shown in this article are owned by Red Dot Cameras. Some, such as the CL outfit, are for sale (this example at £299), others are just for display purposes. Photographs by Red Dot Cameras.
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