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Amelia Earhart's Leica Camera: The £50,000 punt

Posted on by Mike Evans

Now here’s a punt for you. No sooner have Amelia Earhart’s bones been identified on a remote Pacific island, when up pops her treasured Leica on eBay for a tidy £50,000.

Is it worth it? Is it genuine? It comes a with back story that could be plausible and the seller says that it was part of a larger lot of cameras he sold at a Mctear’s Auctioneers in Glasgow in March 2017. 

Image: eBay listing

The Leica I, made around 1926/7 has a fixed 5cm Elmar and comes with some film canisters, a purse to hold filters and a vertical rangefinder. A similar but unattributed camera and accessories would be worth between £1,200 and £1,500, according to Ivor Cooper of Red Dot Cameras. The signed card, if genuine, could be worth perhaps £1,000 but the problem is in tying the two items together. If this could be done successfully then the whole would be worth a lot more than the sum of the parts.

Here’s the blurb from the listing, unedited so don't blame me for the typos:

“Im selling Amelia Earharts camera which was gifted by her to a family memeber in 1933 after returning back from a  trip to Chicago with her Husband. 

“The camera has been in my family possesion since that time and has been in long term storage, the camera appears to be working correctly.

“The hand signed card was personally signed by Amelia and given to my Grandfather  along with the camera by Amelia Earhart back in 1933 in Rye New York 

“Everything is authentic , Ive known this camera all my life — the signed card is almost like new as it has been stored carefully — will post world wide —I would like the camera to go to a museum if possible.

“Please note I have absolutely nothing to prove that this was in fact Miss Earharts Camera and research would need to be done to confirm such, I have absolutely no idea how to do that myself. From memory over 40 years ago my Father told me that she found it fidly to load, Miss Earhart may have studied Photography , my Grandfather had said as much and described her as a keen photographer , she preffered a Kodak folding camera as I recall being told, she was also described as very nice and down to earth.

“Amelias camera was at Mctears Auction house in Glasgow in march 2017, it was part of a rather large collection of cameras that I sold through Mctears , Unfortuantely the auction house could not find enough interest in the UK for Amelias camera and as such the camera remained unsold. I can say this as I want to be totaly transparent. Auction estimate was 10- £15000. The last picture is from Mctears Auction house, I was there on the day that picture was taken, Mctears had used a trade gazzette to advertise the collection and as such I considered some items were sold at less than their true value and then re sold on by dealers at a profit later.

“I do understand that Provenance is an issue, If I had that the camera would be worth Millions, not thousands. I had Bonhams Auctions out in 2016 who said as much when they inspected the camera.”

You have another 25 days or so to get your bids in. Stock up your PayPal account. Or you can buy it now for £50,000, taking quite a lot on trust. 

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