Picture credit: Tony Hurst
The Black Nikon F carries the serial number 6400077 and was one of around 100 pre-production units offered to photographers and journalists for testing, before being released onto the general market in 1959, according to Nikon dealer Grays of Westminster.
Speaking exclusively to Amateur Photographer (AP), the store's founder, Gray Levett explained that the camera was discovered overseas by Japanese camera expert Toni Kowal.
‘It is an almost unbelievable find and, to the best of our knowledge, the earliest black body to have ever surfaced on the international market,' said Levett.
‘Not only is it one of the first Nikon Fs, but it is also fitted with a rare cloth shutter, which [Nikon] changed to titanium as soon as commercial production began...'
The Nikon F was first unveiled to the world's press in March 1959, quickly winning a global reputation as a ‘professional workhorse' camera.
‘The Nikon F found fame in the hands of many a photojournalist in Vietnam, saved lives, stopped a bullet... the stories go on and on... and so does this legendary camera,' enthuses McKeown's classic camera guide.
Among the camera's celebrated users was war photographer Don McCullin whose Nikon F was damaged by a sniper's bullet in Cambodia in 1970.
AP Editor Damien Demolder said: 'The Nikon F was one of the most significant cameras of last century, and in the history of photography as a whole, so the discovery of such an early version is quite something.
'There are thousands of professionals who would have used this camera model for most of their career as, amazingly, it was in production for almost 14 years – so this find will touch the hearts of retired photographers around the globe.'
Despite the challenging economic climate, it seems there is a thriving market for collectable cameras which, explained Levett, are ‘fast becoming investor items'.
Last year, AP revealed the sale of a Fisheye-Nikkor lens, also put up for sale by Grays of Westminster, for £100,000.
The Nikon F's exterior was designed by Yusaku Kamekura, a graphic designer.
Nikon's website states: ‘Many SLR cameras in those days were relatively round in design, though Nikon F gained increasing favour for the straight-line based sophisticated body profile and refined appearance...'
Levett added: ‘Over the past five years, we have scoured sources around the world to put together the finest collection of exotic Nikon collectibles ever offered by a single retail outlet.'
For security reasons, the camera is being held in a safe at a bank, and not at Grays of Westminster in Pimlico.
The £250,000 pricetag includes a rare 'Tick Mark' 50mm f/2 Nikkor-S lens, worth around £900, adds the store.
Would-be buyers should contact Grays of Westminster on 020 7828 4925.
Picture credit: Tony Hurst