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How do you know if an M is repainted or original black painted?


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There are many Ms nicely black repainted. What are the key elements to look at to identify if it’s been repainted or it’s original black painted?

The model in the picture has a serial number from 1969 a batch of 9000. The serial number lists do not specify if it’s chrome or black paint. I assume that it’s chrome and repainted. Is there a way to have more info on the serial numbers?

Thanks

 

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Does it matter?

My M-A is black painted.  No M-A has so far been originally release with black paint.  My was converted to black paint by Leica, using legitimate black paint parts.

Does that make it “fake” or rare?  The Monochrom was originally only released in black chrome.  I had my Monochrom built originally by Leica in silver chrome - again, fake or rare?

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As far as M bodies from 1969 are concerned the only batch I can see which numbered c. 9000 (9,200 in fact) in '69 was from # 1 225 801 to 1 235 000 (M4). As the run is not listed as being Black the batch would have been Satin-Chrome. If the camera pictured falls into this run then it's almost certainly a re-paint.

Approx. half way down this page;

https://www.cameraquest.com/leicanum.htm

As mentioned; there are always one or two which might be 'out of synch' but the above list is normally a very good indication of originality AFAIK.

Hope this is of some help!

Philip.

 

Edited by pippy
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5 minutes ago, IkarusJohn said:

Does it matter?...

I know what you mean, John but actually, form a financial viewpoint it makes a very big difference indeed!

An original Black-Paint M9 from 1969 in such good condition would be sold by one of the famous Leica specialists these days for a sum nicely into the five-figure bracket. A re-paint, however, would be worth a mere fraction of that price. Rarity and Originality.

Philip.

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1 hour ago, pippy said:

I know what you mean, John but actually, form a financial viewpoint it makes a very big difference indeed!

An original Black-Paint M9 from 1969 in such good condition would be sold by one of the famous Leica specialists these days for a sum nicely into the five-figure bracket. A re-paint, however, would be worth a mere fraction of that price. Rarity and Originality.

Philip.

Even though a "repaint" may have been carried out by Leica?  Strange.  Coincidentally, Leica doesn't do a "repaint" - they took off the parts and replaced them with original black paint parts from the MP bin, so the camera's either original or it's not actually an M-A as it is made up of MP and M-A parts, by Leica.

In any event, it doesn't make any difference to me what a collector might value my cameras at so from a financial position, no it makes no difference at all.  I was really just questioning the rationale for such posts fuelling the "value" fire.  Perhaps I should have just re-sprayed my silver chrome M-A myself ... 😀

Edited by IkarusJohn
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Hello Nineteeenfocus,

Welcome to the Forum.

Nice camera.

The Rogliatti "60 years" also just writes "M4". Which probably means "bright chrome". But not always.

Why don't you e-mail Leica in Wetzlar & ask them if:

If you send the serial number of this camera to Leica: Will they tell you if it was originally made with "bright chrome " or  "black lacquer"?

Regular "black lacquer" M4's begin at number 1185151 in 1968.

The  M4  ("bright chrome") began in 1967 at number 1175001.

"Black chrome" M4's were made after the introduction of the M5 in 1971.

M5's (bright chrome") begin at number 1287001. "Black chrome" M5's begin at number1287251. Also in 1971.

"Black chrome" M4's begin at number 1380001 in 1974.

MDa's, which are essentially M4's without their range/viewfinders, began in 1966 at number 1159001. They are all bright chrome. It is possible to add a range/viewfinder to an MDa & make it into an M4.

Please keep in mind: With Leitz/Leica there are sometimes exceptions.

It would be interesting to see a top to bottom photo of the strap eyelet sides of both sides of your camera.

Best Regards,

Michael

Edited by Michael Geschlecht
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If it looks too good to be true it often is. In total there were around 11,500 black M4's made between 1967 and 1975, and most of those were black chrome, so the OP's camera coming from a theorised batch of 9000 BP M4's doesn't add up. The figures highlight pippy's point that the serial number list assumes all cameras are chrome unless otherwise stated as black. They were just a camera in the day, with no Joe public customer customisation programmes, they just made x amount of top plates stamped with serial numbers and then just used them up, so there was never a random BP camera in among a batch of chrome cameras. There is wiggle room, a camera serial number from one year being sold a year or more later, or a set of serial numbers assigned but some of them never used. And I agree it's important today to know because there is thousands of dollars difference in price between an authentic BP M4 and a chrome repaint, down to both desirability and rarity. Some of the prices asked for a BP repaint are now close to what a genuine body would have cost a couple of years ago.

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It is a very legitimate question in the Leica collector and buyer world.

The question about determining the originality of the paint and the financial value of a re-made M is not just philosophical to many people who opt for such a camera. It is in fact a very good question. Lots has been written about the subject on the web. As always, caveat emptor and keep in mind that the originality of black paint can mostly be determined by a simple email to Leica and, to lesser extent, consulting a few books like Band I (Hahne list), Laney and/or Rogliatti.

Also interesting - even Leica, most lately for the M10-R, uses external services for black lacquer jobs. As far as I know the painting of the M10-R BP was done by a contractor firm in Austria.

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4 hours ago, Michael Geschlecht said:

...MDa's, which are essentially M4's without their range/viewfinders, began in 1966 at number 1159001. They are all bright chrome. It is possible to add a range/viewfinder to an MDa & make it into an M4...

Hopefully the OP will allow me to ask Michael a slightly off-topic question regarding the MDa as it may be of some general interest to members reading this thread?

With the MDa does the body still have all the r/f hardware such as the roller-cam etc? I've never had any of the 'scientific' bodies in-hand so don't know how stripped-down (or otherwise) they might be. Similar question regarding the M1; no r/f stuff in the viewfinder but inside the lens-throat?

Lastly I was thinking that I had seen black-chrome MDa bodies but, of course, these would all have been the slightly later MD-2 cameras.

Philip.

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9 hours ago, IkarusJohn said:

Does it matter?

My M-A is black painted.  No M-A has so far been originally release with black paint.  My was converted to black paint by Leica, using legitimate black paint parts.

It shouldn't matter at all because a repaint doesn't have any bearing on the function of a camera. However, as ridiculous as it is, I have to admit that I'm a bit 'OCD' about this kind of thing and prefer my cameras to be stock or, if customised, made using factory parts. Irrespective of the cost or value, I  would be less keen on a Shintaro repaint M (as beautifully done as they are) than I would a factory repaint. For me, original black paint (like my M-A😄) trumps factory repaint which, in turn, trumps third party repaint. 

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21 minutes ago, pippy said:

Hopefully the OP will allow me to ask Michael a slightly off-topic question regarding the MDa as it may be of some general interest to members reading this thread?

With the MDa does the body still have all the r/f hardware such as the roller-cam etc? I've never had any of the 'scientific' bodies in-hand so don't know how stripped-down (or otherwise) they might be. Similar question regarding the M1; no r/f stuff in the viewfinder but inside the lens-throat?

Lastly I was thinking that I had seen black-chrome MDa bodies but, of course, these would all have been the slightly later MD-2 cameras.

Philip.

Philip,

I can say that my two MDa have none of the RF mechanism, no coupling so it's very light.

For example, one MDa is 472g when M4 (variable for reasons I don't know) about 560g.

( taken from French Camera )

Edited by a.noctilux
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8 hours ago, IkarusJohn said:

...Even though a "repaint" may have been carried out by Leica?  Strange...

It can be even more strange than that, John!

As I'm sure you already know the four main factors which are of prime importance to a collector of Leica are (in no special order) Rarity; Originality; Condition; Desireability.

As there are lists of genuine Black-Paint numbers known any camera on such a list has provenance and can rest easy (as it were). Any "Black-Paint" camera not on such a list will always be looked upon with considerable suspicion by a collector and, obviously, these are the folks who are going to be the target market for such a camera.

 Satin-Chrome M4 cameras were made in far greater numbers than were Black-Paint so the latter are valued higher by collectors. A Chrome repainted B-P used to be priced only slightly higher than an original Chrome like-for-like but market-forces being what they are these repaints - if they are done well and by a highly respected source - are increasing in value all the time - as Steve mentions in post #7.

But what about an original B-P M4 which has itself been treated to a re-paint? I saw one of these for sale a year or two ago and even although it was demonstrably a genuine original Black Paint camera and had been re-painted by Leica themselves a couple of decades ago the 'perceived value' was a fraction of what it would have been had it been left with its original paint.

Welcome to Collector's World!

Philip.

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10 hours ago, IkarusJohn said:

Does it matter?

My M-A is black painted.  No M-A has so far been originally release with black paint.  My was converted to black paint by Leica, using legitimate black paint parts.

Does that make it “fake” or rare?  The Monochrom was originally only released in black chrome.  I had my Monochrom built originally by Leica in silver chrome - again, fake or rare?

 

43 minutes ago, wattsy said:

It shouldn't matter at all because a repaint doesn't have any bearing on the function of a camera. However, as ridiculous as it is, I have to admit that I'm a bit 'OCD' about this kind of thing and prefer my cameras to be stock or, if customised, made using factory parts. Irrespective of the cost or value, I  would be less keen on a Shintaro repaint M (as beautifully done as they are) than I would a factory repaint. For me, original black paint (like my M-A😄) trumps factory repaint which, in turn, trumps third party repaint. 

I’d say that it matters because an original BP wears with the messing coming up, which is the thing that people like about BP and has thus the known financial consequences through the GAS route. An overpainted chrome would lead to disappointment, assuming that it will be used as a camera and not as conversation object

Edited by otto.f
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10 hours ago, IkarusJohn said:

...My M-A is black painted.  No M-A has so far been originally release with black paint.  My was converted to black paint by Leica, using legitimate black paint parts.

Does that make it “fake” or rare?  The Monochrom was originally only released in black chrome.  I had my Monochrom built originally by Leica in silver chrome - again, fake or rare?

As your M-A was converted by Leica it might be best described as a 'Factory conversion of an M-A to Black-Paint'. It isn't "fake" as there is no intention to mislead the public that it came out of the factory in the present finish and the re-paint was undertaken by Leica themselves. Whether it could be classified as "Rare" would come down to how many such Black-Paint M-A bodies Leica might have finished both previously and since.

Similar story with the Chrome M Monochrom. As I already know a bit of the background to how you managed to have Leica build such a camera it could be described as a 'Very early (pre-Silver-Chrome production) example of a factory-finished M Monochrom in original Silver-Chrome finish'. It is rare - especially with the factory documentation of how the tale unfolded - and certainly not a fake for the same reason as posted re: the M-A.

I, myself, have a Silver-Chrome M Monochrom which had been, when I acquired it, finished as part of the a la carte system by Leica in a fashion which was quite literally unique. No other M Monochrom had been finished in the same manner. Rare? Yes...in a way. Fake? No.

Philip.

Edited by pippy
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1 hour ago, pippy said:

It can be even more strange than that, John!

As I'm sure you already know the four main factors which are of prime importance to a collector of Leica are (in no special order) Rarity; Originality; Condition; Desireability.

As there are lists of genuine Black-Paint numbers known any camera on such a list has provenance and can rest easy (as it were). Any "Black-Paint" camera not on such a list will always be looked upon with considerable suspicion by a collector and, obviously, these are the folks who are going to be the target market for such a camera.

 Satin-Chrome M4 cameras were made in far greater numbers than were Black-Paint so the latter are valued higher by collectors. A Chrome repainted B-P used to be priced only slightly higher than an original Chrome like-for-like but market-forces being what they are these repaints - if they are done well and by a highly respected source - are increasing in value all the time - as Steve mentions in post #7.

But what about an original B-P M4 which has itself been treated to a re-paint? I saw one of these for sale a year or two ago and even although it was demonstrably a genuine original Black Paint camera and had been re-painted by Leica themselves a couple of decades ago the 'perceived value' was a fraction of what it would have been had it been left with its original paint.

Welcome to Collector's World!

Philip.

Thankfully, there is no buyer for any of my M cameras, so the point is moot!

Edited by IkarusJohn
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I wouldn't buy a painted camera for the same reasons I wouldn't buy a car that has been painted (or 're-cellulosed' , as the giclee community seem to prefer to call it).

I don't see the point of the exercise unless it's an attempt to cover something up.  An original Leica M is a design classic, whichever the original iteration or colour might be.

As for factory customisations I suppose it would add bit of fondling value and vanity as a talking-point on a forum for those who want it.   Each to their own.

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, otto.f said:

...An overpainted chrome would lead to disappointment, assuming that it will be used as a camera and not as conversation object...

I think it really comes down to how well the re-paint has been done, Otto. Most respected re-paint companies will strip-off the original satin-chrome finish and start the re-paint process from first principles.

As it happens at this very moment there is, from a well-known London dealership, a very well-executed re-paint (by a well-known firm) of a 1965 s/s M3 complete with 50mm v2 Rigid Summicron similarly given the Black-Paint treatment and, as they have clearly been given some use subsequently, the underlying brass is now starting to show through slightly on both body and lens in the same manner as had both been Black-Paint originally.

A 'proper' collector would no doubt look askance at such a pairing. I, myself, thought they looked rather fetching. Nor is the dealership asking for much of a premium over similarly non-collectable standard fare - perhaps an extra 10%? Lovely looking thing and, of course, it will come with the dealer's usual guarantee.

If I were a 'collector-on-a-budget' I wouldn't hesitate...

Philip.

Edited by pippy
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Gee, I didn’t that know that it’s such a hype that such a lot of work is worth what people want to spend on it

3 hours ago, pippy said:

I think it really comes down to how well the re-paint has been done, Otto. Most respected re-paint companies will strip-off the original satin-chrome finish and start the re-paint process from first principles.

As it happens at this very moment there is, from a well-known London dealership, a very well-executed re-paint (by a well-known firm) of a 1965 s/s M3 complete with 50mm v2 Rigid Summicron similarly given the Black-Paint treatment and, as they have clearly been given some use subsequently, the underlying brass is now starting to show through slightly on both body and lens in the same manner as had both been Black-Paint originally.

A 'proper' collector would no doubt look askance at such a pairing. I, myself, thought they looked rather fetching. Nor is the dealership asking for much of a premium over similarly non-collectable standard fare - perhaps an extra 10%? Lovely looking thing and, of course, it will come with the dealer's usual guarantee.

If I were a 'collector-on-a-budget' I wouldn't hesitate...

Philip.

 

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12 minutes ago, otto.f said:

Gee, I didn’t that know that it’s such a hype that such a lot of work is worth what people want to spend on it...

So much so, in fact, that the really good companies which specialise in this sort of thing have waiting-lists of clients who are looking to have such re-paints carried out. At the start of lockdown in March last year one which I looked at (*) was so busy that all lens repaints were cancelled until such time as the backlog of waiting bodies had been cleared.

Lots of people have enough 'disposable earnings' to enable themselves to indulge in these sort of things as it gives them some pleasure. And there's nothing wrong with that in the slightest. Why not? There's absolutely no harm in any of it.

Life's Short. We should all enjoy what time we have.

Philip.

* I was actually looking for possible R/F calibration work but they also do re-paints so I had a look. Quite nice IMO!

:)

Edited by pippy
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