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Early Leica II


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Hi all,

I've just received this Leica II serial number 71207, so, if I'm not wrong, it means it's the 8th Leica II ever built (in fact the 8th rangefinder Leica ever built). I know that there are a lot of older cameras upgraded to II but this one have that historical component that I love. The Leica II with the incorporation of the rangefinder (and coupling) in the camera body was, from my point of view, one of the major jumps in Leica history.

I've reviewed the main auction houses and websites etc. and I've not been able to find an earlier sample. I've just seen a reference to a prototype that is (or was) in the Leitz museum but it's quite unclear.

It looks like it's in original condition including a fully yellow finder, nickel fittings, large speed dial etc. (yes, I know, that offending front screw, but I'm still unsure if I'll try to replace it :) ). It came with a 11 o'clock 50 3.5 bell push Elmar that I assume it's original (difficult to prove, but also difficult to prove not).

During the research that I do for every interesting camera that I get, I've seen several sources that equal the first batch with the first year, but according to Hahne list, the first initial "run" is made of 25 cameras (71200 to 71224). On the other hand, there are other camera models delivered in the usually accepted first batch-year. My guess is that, in those days, there were no real batches as we know for later models but that's just a guess.

Also in that research, the usually accepted date for the first Leica II is Feb 1932 (1st of February?), but this model was presented on March in the Leipzig fair of 1932 and I've even read some references (in this forum) about model II in August 1931.

So any comment, suggestion, source of information etc. would be very much appreciated.

Best regards,

Augusto

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Edited by tranquilo67
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If you are interested in the first rangefinder Leica camera, the Leica model II, may be this is of interest for you. Well known italian magazine, I think available in some way through the web/shop.

 

 

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Edited by sabears
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8 hours ago, sabears said:

If you are interested in the first rangefinder Leica camera, the Leica model II, may be this is of interest for you. Well known italian magazine, I think available in some way through the web/shop.

 

 

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Thank you very much!!!! I'll look for it.

6 hours ago, jerzy said:

Great find  Augusto! Yet another very interesting camera to your collection of "unusual" screwmount 🙂
But what is this "ugly" screw doing there? I think it may be made obsolete (be replaced with black one)

 

Thank you Jerzy!!!  Yes, you know me, and my passion for those "unusual", specially with some history behind.

And yes, I know the ugly screw thing :) I probably have to look for a proper one but I'm not sure if the vulcanite hole has been enlarged for it but, yes, I'll try.

Hope you're doing fine!!!

Augusto

 

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  • 1 year later...
On 6/13/2020 at 8:07 PM, tranquilo67 said:

Also in that research, the usually accepted date for the first Leica II is Feb 1932 (1st of February?), but this model was presented on March in the Leipzig fair of 1932 and I've even read some references (in this forum) about model II in August 1931.

Did you ask Leica about the delivery date of your camera? Would you mind posting it? My Leica II #73432 was delivered on 17. February 1932. 

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4 hours ago, Studienkamera said:

Also, in the comments to this article

https://vintage-photo.nl/leica-ii-the-jewel-of-wetzlar/

someone claims to know about the whereabouts of the fifth Leica II. But talk is cheap and a picture worth a thousand words...

Did Leica make and number the top plates in those days like they did from the M3 onwards in pre-numbered batches, and these would then be randomly taken from stock by the technicians as they built each camera?

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1 hour ago, 250swb said:

Did Leica make and number the top plates in those days like they did from the M3 onwards in pre-numbered batches, and these would then be randomly taken from stock by the technicians as they built each camera?

OP mentions an initial batch of 25. I don't think anyone alive still knows whether serial numbers within this batch were applied randomly or in consecutive order. Probably it would be more appropriate to talk about "5th in batch" instead of "5th produced", but personally I am happy to use these phrases interchangeably. 

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On 6/13/2020 at 11:07 AM, tranquilo67 said:

Hi all,

I've just received this Leica II serial number 71207, so, if I'm not wrong, it means it's the 8th Leica II ever built (in fact the 8th rangefinder Leica ever built). I know that there are a lot of older cameras upgraded to II but this one have that historical component that I love. The Leica II with the incorporation of the rangefinder (and coupling) in the camera body was, from my point of view, one of the major jumps in Leica history.

I've reviewed the main auction houses and websites etc. and I've not been able to find an earlier sample. I've just seen a reference to a prototype that is (or was) in the Leitz museum but it's quite unclear.

It looks like it's in original condition including a fully yellow finder, nickel fittings, large speed dial etc. (yes, I know, that offending front screw, but I'm still unsure if I'll try to replace it :) ). It came with a 11 o'clock 50 3.5 bell push Elmar that I assume it's original (difficult to prove, but also difficult to prove not).

During the research that I do for every interesting camera that I get, I've seen several sources that equal the first batch with the first year, but according to Hahne list, the first initial "run" is made of 25 cameras (71200 to 71224). On the other hand, there are other camera models delivered in the usually accepted first batch-year. My guess is that, in those days, there were no real batches as we know for later models but that's just a guess.

Also in that research, the usually accepted date for the first Leica II is Feb 1932 (1st of February?), but this model was presented on March in the Leipzig fair of 1932 and I've even read some references (in this forum) about model II in August 1931.

So any comment, suggestion, source of information etc. would be very much appreciated.

Best regards,

Augusto

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Nice one, Augusto. The only way to get the full picture is to have the register which is in the Leica Archives and I might ask about that when I am in Wetzlar in June. What is certain is that you have a very early production II Model D. According to the Blue Book the range from 71200 to 101000 is a single batch, but you seem to have more detailed information about smaller batches.

I have about 6 or 7 II Model Ds, the earliest is a Swedish one with SN 74353 , but I have no date for that. There appears to be interesting history about this camera and its owner and my researches have thrown up some information. 

 

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The next one is an Irish one, SN 78952, which I know was delivered to a Dublin dealer on 25th April 1932

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This points to, possibly, over 7,000 II Model Ds being produced in under 3 months which is remarkable rate of production and level of demand for that era.

Somebody mentioned the development of the built in rangefinder. I recently gave a talk to the Photographic Collectors Club of Great Britain (PCCGB) about this topic and I will send you my slides by WeTransfer. I will try to fit in as many of the images as I can below.

The first is an attempt around 1927 or 28 to attach a FODIS rangefinder and to couple it leading to what the English might call a 'Heath Robinson ' device which was not very elegant and awkward to use with exposed gearing etc

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Barnack then gave instructions to his design team to come up with something that was elegant, functional and would not greatly increase the size of the camera.

Then there was an attempt to join the rangefinder up at the front like this.

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It was then decided that the rangefinder should go on top and the next task was to design parts that were small enough to fit inside a casing on top of the camera.

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Finally there came the elegant top cover which we all know and love.

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This is a simplified version of the full story, which you should be able to follow from my slides.

I look forward to meeting you personally (at last!) at the UK Leica Society in Buxton, England on 9/10 April where we can catch up with our old friend , Jim Lager.

Before that, I am doing another talk for PCCGB on 3rd April about the earliest Leicas with interchangeable lenses. This is not about the I Model C , but rather about I Model As with the British made Ross and Dallmeyer lenses as well as the German Meyer Kino Plasmat, which were available as a fitted interchangeable option from around 1928 onwards. I will also send you a set of those slides when they are finished.

Augusto, I love your enthusiasm and research. Your article about Embassy Leicas in the latest edition of our LHSA Viewfinder magazine also looks very well. I hope you will be able to make it to Dublin, where I live, for the LHSA - International Leica Society AGM next October. We are working hard to put together a good program for Leica enthusiasts from all around the world. 

William 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
vor 8 Stunden schrieb Studienkamera:

OP mentions an initial batch of 25. I don't think anyone alive still knows whether serial numbers within this batch were applied randomly or in consecutive order. Probably it would be more appropriate to talk about "5th in batch" instead of "5th produced", but personally I am happy to use these phrases interchangeably.

I had a chance to open this camera and lens and found interesting things inside. but I will leave it Augusto to publish this info, it is his camera. In any case this is very early II, some main parts were produced as for IC  parts and modified

Edited by jerzy
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vor 15 Stunden schrieb Studienkamera:

My Leica II #73432 was delivered on 17. February 1932.

1932? not later? Dates that Leica Archove gives are dleivery date (when the item was shipped) and this is not necessarily when it was produced, same with the order when shipping. My 71556 was shipped on June 9th 1932, my 71978 on 18.03.1932. Therefore February 1932 for 73432 looks strange to me

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1 hour ago, jerzy said:

1932? not later? Dates that Leica Archove gives are dleivery date (when the item was shipped) and this is not necessarily when it was produced, same with the order when shipping. My 71556 was shipped on June 9th 1932, my 71978 on 18.03.1932. Therefore February 1932 for 73432 looks strange to me

My 78952 was delivered on 25th April 1932 (dealer of the delivery is the dealer in the engraving) which is before your 71556 on 9th June 1932. As I said above, the only way to solve this is to have a look at the full register all together,  which I might try to arrange for the next time that I am in Wetzlar.

William 

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2 hours ago, jerzy said:

1932? not later? Dates that Leica Archove gives are dleivery date 

Yes, that’s the date Leica gave me. Destination and recipient unknown.

This indicates that there was some randomness in the order these cameras were shipped. Maybe serial numbers were applied sequentially during production, but shipping occurred in a random order, or the allocation of serial numbers during the production process was already random. 

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My earliest model D Leica's are 71246 and 71277.  71246 is listed in Band I as originally a Model IA, so it could be a later upgrade to Model II (D). As to when they were actually fabricated and shipped, I have never asked Wetzlar for the dates in the records. Would be interesting to open up the cameras and see if any Ia or Ic parts were modified for use, as noted by Jerzy.  71246 also, appears to be an "export" camera as Germany is engraved in the shoe, perhaps earlier than expected to start exporting a new D model? Another point that it may have been converted. After serial 71200, there are 18 model IA's listed and they were in 1935/6. There were 6 model IA with Hektor lenses listed at 71225-230, and over 1000 model Ic cameras listed. It is clear that Leitz continued to sell the non-rangefinder cameras well after introduction of the II, and the literature shows that also. In late 1932, the Ic was altered slightly and sold and listed in records, as the "Standard" until 1948. With "hand" production, Leitz could do both bulk production and as needed, small lot production.

71277 is listed as a II(D), in the second lot of 71251-71349 after an initial allocation of 71200-71224. Which would make it about the 50th allocated II, but as seen above, serials allocated may not have actually been fabricated or shipped until years later.

I think the model IA cameras that have "1932" serial numbers (50 in total) and are listed as1933 to 1935/6 were really not produced for general ordering, but were possibly a last effort to produce a few early cameras for history/ceremonial/employee use or left overs that were not finished as planned. A detailed review of ship dates in the records would help perhaps; when will these records be made available, other than a requested one-at-a-time basis, to all researchers? I appreciate the writing is sometimes difficult to read, but still.

 

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Yes, but there have been some errors noted in this reference, and one must be careful. Sometimes we say "allocation" or "production lots", but until someone can explain the real process Leitz used to manufacture several different early models during the same time period, there are going to be uncertainties. There are many photos of early production, where leica cameras seem to be transported to and from various workstations in wood crates that might contain a certain number of partially assembled cameras.  Exactly when the serials were engraved could also have varied. It does seem that when a number of cameras were complete, that was recorded accurately in the record books. Certainly, any effective production would have plans and methods to record how those plans were met.  I believe the factory records are the best we have available.  It also seems likely Quality Control at Leitz was a very high priority, a reputation was at stake. This may have resulted in delays, rebuilds, more tests, waiting on parts, worker shortages in the paint shop. Anyway, Leitz did a tremendous job evolving to produce  4 million cameras .I believe the Rolf Fricke interviewed a few Leitz employees that worked there before the war and many more specifics than I could every supply are in some of his Viewfinder articles and also a recently translated book. I am sure others can provide more details. 

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21 hours ago, alan mcfall said:

My earliest model D Leica's are 71246 and 71277.  71246 is listed in Band I as originally a Model IA, so it could be a later upgrade to Model II (D). As to when they were actually fabricated and shipped, I have never asked Wetzlar for the dates in the records. Would be interesting to open up the cameras and see if any Ia or Ic parts were modified for use, as noted by Jerzy.  71246 also, appears to be an "export" camera as Germany is engraved in the shoe, perhaps earlier than expected to start exporting a new D model? Another point that it may have been converted. After serial 71200, there are 18 model IA's listed and they were in 1935/6. There were 6 model IA with Hektor lenses listed at 71225-230, and over 1000 model Ic cameras listed. It is clear that Leitz continued to sell the non-rangefinder cameras well after introduction of the II, and the literature shows that also. In late 1932, the Ic was altered slightly and sold and listed in records, as the "Standard" until 1948. With "hand" production, Leitz could do both bulk production and as needed, small lot production.

71277 is listed as a II(D), in the second lot of 71251-71349 after an initial allocation of 71200-71224. Which would make it about the 50th allocated II, but as seen above, serials allocated may not have actually been fabricated or shipped until years later.

I think the model IA cameras that have "1932" serial numbers (50 in total) and are listed as1933 to 1935/6 were really not produced for general ordering, but were possibly a last effort to produce a few early cameras for history/ceremonial/employee use or left overs that were not finished as planned. A detailed review of ship dates in the records would help perhaps; when will these records be made available, other than a requested one-at-a-time basis, to all researchers? I appreciate the writing is sometimes difficult to read, but still.

 

According to the Blue Book (started by Laney) the following numbers were made in 1932 and succeeding years:

I Model A

1932 799 (including 1 with Hektor)

1933 6

1934 15

1935 18

1936 1

I Model C (standardised)

1932 2012

1933 184

The serial numbers for I Model As and I Model Cs might explain why 78952 on a II Model D was reached as soon as 25th April 1932. It seems logical that production of the I Mod A and the I Mod C did not cease completely in 1932.  According to the Blue Book, in that year 1350 examples of the improved Standard Model E were produced.

The only way of getting to the bottom of this would be to look at the delivery registers for the whole of 1932 to see what the mix of models was for that year, broken down by IA , IC , IID and Std E. I don't know how far Hahne got with doing this.

William 

 

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This is the page Leitz sent me for my Leica 11, 89397, originally black but now chrome.

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