The Leitz Phographica Auction House is about to celebrate a historic milestone at the upcoming the 20th anniversary auction event with the estimated $3.2 million dollar sale of an extremely rare Leica 0-Series camera (No. 105) originally owned by Oskar Barnack.
The Los Angeles Leica Store held a preview event ahead of the auction that showcased a selection of the more interesting and rare items that will be available later this year — June 11, 2022 at the Leitz Park in Wetzlar, Germany — and invited PetaPixel to take a look at the selection in person.
The event hosted a selection of about twenty unique collectible items that will be available. The Leitz Photographica auction regularly hosts some of the most expensive cameras and photographic accessories ever made available, and many might not understand why anyone would pay prices that range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for cameras that may or may not ever be used to take pictures again.
The Leitz representatives say there are a few common reasons. First, some feel an ethical call to preserve something as part of technology and history. Others, and perhaps the most common reason, is that a buyer simply “wants to have it.” Finally, some treat it as an investment where it will accumulate further value over time.
The Headline Item
Easily the most anticipated item of the auction is the 0-Series No. 105 which has garnered the most attention since it is estimated to sell for at least $3.2 million. It is considered exceptional because of its rarity and because it was also one of the personal cameras of Oskar Barnack, who is considered the inventor of 35mm photography.
Barnack used this specific 105 to capture motifs from his family life, gaining technical insights he then applied to the further development of the camera and its succeeding models.
A Lot More To See
While the 0-Series has generated an incredible amount of media buzz, there are still hundreds of other rare and more attainable items up for grabs for the discerning collector. Some of these items include a Prototype Summilux 50mm f/1.4 Chrome lens, and a Leica “Snapshot” with prototype Elmar 3.5CM.
One notable item is a custom-made analog Gold Leica MP (Serial number 5630769) with Leica Elmar-M 50mm f/2.8 (Serial number 3739015) charity lot item, which is estimated to sell for between $20,000 and $25,000, with all proceeds to be donated to a non-profit organization in Austria and Germany.
The “decorative” metal exterior parts of the charity lot camera were coated with a layer of actual gold (by electroplating) and will offer Leica fans something even rarer, as the top plate of the camera does not have any of the typical engravings found on standard Leica systems. The serial number is instead discretely engraved on the bottom of the winding lever, making it a much more unique MP system from a collector’s standpoint. Considering a normal MP system retails for about $6,000, it’s likely that this particular item will fetch considerably more.
“My personal favorite of the next auction (besides the 105) is the Contax II from Walker Evans,” Andreas Schweigher, the man responsible for the auction’s invoicing, tells PetaPixel.
“It’s the camera he used for the NY subway portraits, hidden under his coat. This style was quite unusual at that time but inspired many photographers later. Street Photography was not even a concept back then. Because of all this, you can feel a certain aura around the camera.”
The collection of items on display during the LA store preview event showcased just a taste of some of the most expensive items that will be sold in 2022. Some of these incredibly rare items are estimated to go from $16,000 to upwards of $3.2 million.
The rest of the items available for the special auction will be released around the middle of May and should all be listed on the official Leitz Auction website. Bids for the upcoming auction on June 11 can be submitted in advance — online, in written form, or by telephone. Live bidding during the auction is possible on site at Hotel Bristol in Vienna or at the Leitz Auction website and LiveAuctioneers.