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Rare Leica O-series camera set to break camera auction record

March 29, 2022

The Leitz Photographica Auction house is to hold the world’s largest auction of historic cameras on 11 June 2022 with an extremely rare Leica O-Series No. 105 on course to become the most expensive camera ever sold at auction.

The auction will be held at Leitz Park, the international Leica headquarters in Wetzlar, Germany, with the Leica O-Series No. 105, produced in 1923, being the highlight.

The O-Series was a batch of prototypes and they hold a special appeal for collectors of historically significant technical artifacts.

Before the Leitz Camera – Leica for short – went into series production in the mid-1920s, and made the 35mm format the new standard for professional photographers, approximately 20 examples of the O-Series were manufactured. Around a dozen of them are estimated to be in existence today.

Oskar Barnack’s personal camera

The O-Series No. 105 is not only exceptional because of its rarity, it was also one of the personal cameras of Oskar Barnack, the inventor of 35mm photography, whose name adorns the viewfinder of the camera.

This Leica 0-Series #105 prototype from 1923 is poised to become the world's most expensive camera ever at auction

This Leica 0-Series #105 prototype from 1923 is poised to become the world’s most expensive camera ever at auction

Barnack used the 105 to capture motifs from his family life, gaining technical insights that he then applied to the further development of the camera and its succeeding models.

The historical significance of the O-Series No. 105 as well as its famous previous owner are reflected in its estimated price of €2,000,000 to €3,000,000. The starting bid is €1,000,000.

The world’s most expensive camera to date – the O-Series No. 122 – sold at the 32nd Leitz Photographica Auction in 2018 for €2.4 million euros (including buyer’s premium).

Custom-made for a good cause

The upcoming auction includes the charity lot, the proceeds of which will be donated to charities in Austria and, for the first time, Germany.

To celebrate Leitz Photographica Auction’s 20th anniversary, a unique camera set will be auctioned off for a good cause.

The analogue Leica MP with the serial number 5630769 and the Leica Elmar-M 1:2.8/50 with the serial number 3739015 are unique pieces that stem from a cooperation between Leica Camera AG and Leitz Photographica Auction.

The decorative metal exterior parts of the camera were coated with a layer of real gold by means of electroplating.

This gold plated Leica MP is a charity lot during the auction

This gold plated Leica MP is a charity lot during the auction

The camera’s top plate has a further special feature as it does not bear any of the typical engravings.

The camera’s serial number is discreetly engraved on the underside of the winding lever, making this particular Leica MP unique.

The set is complemented by a black Leica Elmar-M 1:2.8/50, reworked directly at Leica Camera AG in Wetzlar. Instead of the usual engravings laid out in white paint, this lens has gold-coloured engravings to match the camera.

‘Leitz Photographica Auction’ is one of the world’s leading auction houses for classic and vintage cameras and photographica and is now firmly established on the international scene.

Auction details

The 40th Leitz Photographica Auction will be held at Leitz Park, Wetzlar, Germany at 10am GMT on 11 June 2022.

Bids for the upcoming auction on June 11 can be submitted in advance – online at Leitz Photographica Auction, in written form or by telephone.

Live bidding during the auction is possible on-site at the Hotel Bristol in Vienna or at Leitz Photographica Auction and at LiveAuctioneers: Bid in Online Auctions.

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