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Leica M in gold - all that glitters


Al Brown
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About 100 yers ago, Leitz company issued a set of theatre binoculars in gold (BINAR and BITUR, according to Laney). It was a thing of class and the luxury edition adorned  their catalogue until the WWII. The logical choice was to try and implement the gold mystique to the Leitz cameras as well - and thus in 1929 the "Luxus" Leica (LELUX, LESSALUX) was born. Although never a huge commercial success, the cameras (less than 100 made according to Rogliatti et al.) remains a collector favorite.

Fast forward to the M era. There were several attempts to revive the glitter with custom golden M3's, but the biggest golden boom was created after the M "revival" with the special edition M4-2 in 1979, commemorating the 100 years anniversary of Oskar Barnack (1879-1979). There were 500+500 cameras made in 1979 and 1980 in Canada for the occasion (1527201-1527700 and 1528151-1528650 respectively) with 24-karat gold plating.

After that, there were several more editions in gold - for the Sultan of Brunei (I know of two variants, first was the 25th Anniversary of accession to the throne of Sultan of Brunei on 1st October 1992), for the commemoration of the Golden Jubilee celebration of the access to the throne of HM The King Bhumiphol Adulyadej of Thailand (1996) and the Leica MP Gold "60 years PRC" (2009).

Several very nice golden M2, M3 and M4s surface on eBay now and then, but they are all custom repaints.
No golden M was made in digital era, only brass - M10P for Thailand S.C. ASSET comes to mind.

Please feel free to add any additional information!
And do write how you feel about golden Leicas. You know what they say - anything useful to you is pure gold, regardless of the material used...


(Pictured here: my personal M4-2 with Leica catalogue production number 10420 from 1980 with the Summilux dating from 1977.)

Edited by Al Brown
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42 minutes ago, Al Brown said:

And do write how you feel about golden Leicas.

Are you sure about that? 😉

Gold is just a color, like it or not. However I feel sad that few, if any, of these fully functional cameras were ever used to take photographs. I also feel sad that several of these editions were made for, or in celebration of dictators and dictatorships.

But again, it is just a color. In 2010 I bought a gold coloured Lumix GH1 in Japan, heavily discounted against the black version but just as good. It was not made to be a collectable of course. I recall it was difficult for me to find a buyer when I later tried to sell it, which probably says something about the popularity of the color and the reason it was discounted in the first place.
If I remember correctly, you could also buy gold coloured iPhones and the popularity varied greatly depending on geographic region.

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If not done,

have a read here,

https://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/companies/Leica/Leica-M6/LEICAM6_GoldSultanBrunei/index.htm

 

 

another

 

for more ...

this rich page, incredible M6 ...

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@a.noctilux Thanks, I know all these links very well. In fact, I had the opportunity to fondle one of these awesome cameras just recently... specifically this gorgeous "King of Thailand" gold Leica number HM-614 (from the lot of 700) made in 1996 with matching Summicron M 2/50.

Edited by Al Brown
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15 minutes ago, lookbook said:

... gold versions were also available from other camera manufacturers.
what's good for a fingerring doesn't look so good on a camera, in my opinion.
 

True. A *lot* of cameras were issued in gold... I photographed some nice samples below during time... And this is just a handful.

Edited by Al Brown
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As side note, they are gold plated (I may be wrong),

so just saying 😉

just ...like cheap jewelleries, no ?

anyway they float Leica finance ...

...

another gold Nikon DF

https://www.jebiga.com/brikk-24k-gold-nikon-df-camera/

 

[...

Equipped with gold-coated Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens with front cap and packed inside a custom hard-shell Zero Halliburton case with some additional 24K touches, the Brikk 24K Gold Nikon DF camera kit is the outcome of the company’s year-long development, designing and engineering efforts. The 4-5 microns thick dual-layer gold plating is applied on top of the five-layered surface on the camera body previously treated with diverse metals for maximum durability and superior class, and the unit is then hand-polished to a perfect 24K yellow shine.

...]

Edited by a.noctilux
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2 hours ago, a.noctilux said:

As side note, they are gold plated (I may be wrong),

so just saying 😉

just ...like cheap jewelleries, no ?

anyway they float Leica finance ...

I am sure you know about the softness of 24-karat gold? 24-karat gold is not even much used for making jewellery, let alone cameras... Your sentence does not really make any sense - nobody would actually expect Leica to make solid gold cameras, they would have been useless...

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5 hours ago, Al Brown said:

I am sure you know about the softness of 24-karat gold? 24-karat gold is not even much used for making jewellery, let alone cameras... Your sentence does not really make any sense - nobody would actually expect Leica to make solid gold cameras, they would have been useless...

But highlighting 'gold plated' does accentuate the necessary level of tackiness. Like gold bathroom taps, a golden flush for the toilet, a golden shower.

Edited by 250swb
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18 minutes ago, earleygallery said:

If I had the spare cash I'd buy a gold R3 set, made for Oscar's 100th birthday (as long as it was still fully functional) and use the hell out of it!

One is being auctioned (starting price 1000 euros) at the 39th Leitz Photographica Auction in Vienna, complete with all papers and wooden & maker's boxes.
I did a voyeur snapshot through the display cabinet  glass.

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