WestLicht: Green with envy on the old blue Danube
In just under three weeks, on June 11, Leica collectors will be taking part in one of the highlights of the year, the 29th WestLicht Camera Auction in Vienna. According to Leica, among the rarities on sale are the M3 with the serial number 700004, built in 1954: “The camera, still in its original condition, is the fourth M camera produced in the series; after the M3 No.700001, previously auctioned by WestLicht for €900,000, it is the earliest M3 known to exist. This recently discovered camera is estimated to fetch €50,000 to €60,000.”
Pictured here are two impressive collectors’ items. The Leica M3D-100 is a historical reconstruction made from the last surviving set of original MP spare parts from 1956 with black paint Summilux 1.4/50mm and focusing lever. The camera represents a masterpiece of Leica in completely new and perfect working condition. The M3D was the forerunner of all MP cameras specially designed and built by Leitz for the American photographer David Douglas Duncan. Only four of these cameras (M3D-1 to M3D-4) were produced and used for many years by Duncan. Life photographer Duncan (born January 23rd, 1916) is among the most influential photographers of the 20th century. He is best known for his dramatic combat photographs of Korean and Vietnam War and his work with his close friend Pablo Picasso.
This camera has a starting price of €30,000.
The second example, one of my favourites, is a first-owner’s black-paint M3 set in original condition, complete with a black-paint 50mm Summicron f/2, boxes and all the original receipts. See this in the top photograph at the head of this article. It was purchased from Foto-Radio-Wegert, an old-established photographic retailer which existed from 1930 to 2005. This camera appears to have been purchased from the old Kurfürstendamm store at the corner of Joachimstalerstrasse. I can see a total at the bottom of the main bill, which I assume was the camera body, for DM 1,727 which, at the time, would have been equivalent to £154 or $432. The black Summicron lens, on a separate bill, cost DM 444 or £40/$110. (Historic note: At the time of purchase the pound bought DM11.20 while the US dollar was worth DM4).
More goodies in this video:
- William Fagan wrote about his experiences with Leica auctions here
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Leica Rarities and Historical Camera Technology: Focus of the 29th WestLicht Camera Auction on June 11
Wetzlar, May 10, 2016. Once again, the WestLicht Auction House in Vienna offers numerous rarities of the Leitz/Leica brands at its upcoming camera auction, starting at 11 am on June 11, 2016. Among the highlights of the auction lots are the Leica M3 with the serial number 700004, built in 1954. The camera, still in its original condition, is the 4th M camera produced in series; after the M3 No. 700001, previously auctioned by WestLicht for € 900,000, it is the earliest M3 known to exist. This recently-discovered camera is estimated to fetch € 50,000 to € 60,000.
Interested bidders may view the historical cameras and accessories personally starting on June 7 or by telephone appointment; bids may be submitted via www.westlicht- auction.com. One day previously, on June 10, WestLicht auctions photographs for the 14th time. More than 200 high-carat photographs will be exhibited at the WestLicht Museum starting on May 30, and auction catalogues may be ordered starting immediately via www.westlicht-auction.com. The online catalogues offer a wealth of detailed information and images of individual lots.
Among the many other highlights of the approximately 600 auction lots are a very early Leica I with an Elmax lens (estimated value € 10,000 - € 12,000), a black-varnish Leica IIIf manufactured as part of a very small series for the Swedish Army in 1956 (estimated value € 40,000 - € 50,000). A highly sought-after collectors’ item is the half-format Leica built for 72 exposures in Wetzlar – only 30 of these cameras left the factory, and the last of them to be delivered comes to auction with an estimated value of € 30,000 to € 35,000. Two black- varnish Leica M3 cameras, both with their original lenses and packaging and sold by their first owners, are also popular with collectors. A very special camera, however, is one of a kind: in homage to the famous photographer David Douglas Duncan, who celebrated his 100th birthday this past January, it was built as a copy of the special-edition M3D built specifically for Duncan, using the last available original parts from 1956. The original was one of the first cameras equipped with the rapidwinder Leicavit; this was sold at WestLicht in 2013, fetching the world-record price for a serially produced camera of € 1,800,000. The Leica M3D-100 put together now as a painstaking labour of love, featuring black varnish and a matching Summilux lens, is estimated at €50,000 to € 60,000. Many further cameras, including rare special series, prototypes, lenses and accessories – also for regular users at very reasonable prices – round out the offerings of approximately 200 Leica lots.
Bids may be submitted online (www.westlicht-auction.com), in writing, by phone, live worldwide via www.liveauctioneers.com or personally at the WestLicht auction hall at Westbahnstraße 40 in 1070 Vienna, Austria.