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Oscar Barnack's very own Leica 0-Series no.105 from the Leitz Museum in Wetzlar is being auctioned


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Leitz Museum was hiding some gorgeous pieces of valuable history. Leica 0-Series from 1923, "the oldest maintained Leica" as it said next to the exhibit, was Oskar Barnack's very own camera, proudly bearing the serial number #105.
This camera is now being auctioned at the 40th Leitz Photographica Auction in Wetzlar. The starting price is one million euros.

One image is my photo from the museum, the other from the official auction site.

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1 hour ago, Al Brown said:

Leitz Museum was hiding some gorgeous pieces of valuable history. Leica 0-Series from 1923, "the oldest maintained Leica" as it said next to the exhibit, was Oskar Barnack's very own camera, proudly bearing the serial number #105.
This camera is now being auctioned at the 40th Leitz Photographica Auction in Wetzlar. The starting price is one million euros.

One image is my photo from the museum, the other from the official auction site.

I will be writing an article about this camera soon and will post a link here. I saw the camera in Wetzlar last September.

William 

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A pity for Leitz Museum... 😗 it abandons an item not only precious, but located in a place that is the best for a camera that made Wetzlar a legendary name for photography... on the sentimental side... ok that "money matters"... but would be sad that this item would continue its long life in some showcase of some reclusive residence... let's hope, at least, that it will stay visible in some other museum.... 🙄

(btw... Did Barnack have heirs ?  I suppose they haven't nothing to dispute about the legitimacy of the property of this little camera.. 😁) .

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Apart the Leica #105 , auctioned items include a Prototype Summilux 50  on which they make a statement that isn't fully clear to me :

According to factory records, the optical formula for this is named "B637a", which is an evolution of the original "B635" calculation, but is not yet the final version of the Canadian-made lenses.

(Summilux 50 from Canada ?  🤒)

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7 minutes ago, luigi bertolotti said:

A pity for Leitz Museum... 😗 it abandons an item not only precious, but located in a place that is the best for a camera that made Wetzlar a legendary name for photography... on the sentimental side... ok that "money matters"... but would be sad that this item would continue its long life in some showcase of some reclusive residence... let's hope, at least, that it will stay visible in some other museum.... 🙄

(btw... Did Barnack have heirs ?  I suppose they haven't nothing to dispute about the legitimacy of the property of this little camera.. 😁) .

The camera is owned by a person in the US who wishes to sell it. It was put in a museum in Munich after Barnack's death in 1936. In the early 1960s Oskar Barnack's son retrieved the camera from the museum and sold it to a party in the US and it has changed hands a few times since then. I'll give as many details as I can in my article. Jim Lager has given me more details than are in the little book on the camera, which I got from Leitz Auction, but I'm not sure that I can reveal the identity of the present owner.

William 

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If it does not sell for $5 million USDs, I will be surprised - but then we are in the middle of a global recession/depression/whatever it is.

If I had Pharaoh money, I'd buy it and leave it in the Leica museum on long term loan, with the proviso that I would be able to come to Wetzlar a couple times a year and take it out to shoot a few rolls of street photography.  A camera like that should still be used and not spend its life as a safe queen.

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22 minutes ago, Herr Barnack said:

If it does not sell for $5 million USDs, I will be surprised - but then we are in the middle of a global recession/depression/whatever it is.

If I had Pharaoh money, I'd buy it and leave it in the Leica museum on long term loan, with the proviso that I would be able to come to Wetzlar a couple times a year and take it out to shoot a few rolls of street photography.  A camera like that should still be used and not spend its life as a safe queen.

I like the idea of someone buying the camera and donating it to the museum, but that is unlikely to happen.

As for using it, apart from walking around on the street with 5 million worth of camera in your hands ( think of the insurance costs, if you get any) , this one may still have the original uncapped shutter, so you would need to get into the habit of putting the cap on as you wind it.

The concept of using every camera goes out the window when you go to more than 10 cameras in your collection. I have more than 50, but less than 100. I know some people with hundreds of camera.

Collecting and using only go so far together. I cannot really understand people who disapprove of people collecting things to own them and not to use them. Collecting cameras is an entirely different activity to buying cameras to use.

‘Whatever it is’ could be WWIII, but I hope it is not. 

William

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Quote

...Whatever it is’ could be WWIII, but I hope it is not.

Likewise.

Quote

...The concept of using every camera goes out the window when you go to more than 10 cameras in your collection. I have more than 50, but less than 100. I know some people with hundreds of camera...

I'm an impoverished Leica connoisseur, as my M cameras and lenses combined total a merely 9 pieces.  I have to add in my Q2 to get to 10.  I gravitate to 28mm and 50mm focal lengths, but my 21, 35 and 90mm lenses get playing time too, depending on my subject matter.

I will add an M11 and a 28 Summilux as soon as I can - but if WWIII kicks off, all of us will have more urgent concerns than adding to our Leica kits. 

Of course, we mere mortals on L Camera Forum will have no say in the matter since those who would start WWII will be unaffected by its ramifications (as is always the case). 

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Well at least I have my own Leica Null (0) camera that I can touch and actually use.  Thank you Leica for remaking such a beautiful camera back in 2000.  It's not Oscar's camera but it might as well be.  His influence is all over it.  Every time I pick it up to use it I am rocked back in time.

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Hi,

I have the strange theory that crisis (of any type) not only don't impact these type of collectibles, but also can make them to go higher or at least solid. High end collectables can be a good shelter for money when the economy becomes unstable, and when high inflation rates make money in the bank to worth less every day, but that's just my opinion.

Best wishes,

Augusto

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 4/7/2022 at 5:55 PM, Ambro51 said:

It says “OSCAR” ..

My article on No 105 is done and with Mike Evans. It should go out next week with photos supplied by the auction house. The camera went to Dumur initially and then to Barnack. These cameras were not sold, but were rather distributed to trusted parties and factory personnel and a lot of them 'changed hands' after coming back to the factory for 'upgrades' and repairs.. They were in and out of the factory and features were changed such as, in the case of No 105, the tubular Galilean viewfinder in place of the original folding finder and a rewind knob from a I Model A. The first time that this camera was actually sold was by Conrad Barnack, son of Oskar, in 1960 to an American collector. Prior to that it had been in a museum in Munich for some time. It has been in the ownership of 4 different US collectors since 1960. Jim Lager featured this camera in a book many years ago and I discussed the camera with Jim in Buxton just two weeks ago and he is no doubt that the camera was used by Barnack. Lars Netopil, who was also with us in Buxton, concurred.

As to where, when and by whom the engraving (including the 'C') was done there is no evidence, but the camera does not rely on that to establish its provenance. There is a fair amount of documentation coming with the camera, including a letter written by Conrad Barnack to an American collector in October 1960. 

I suggest that anyone here who is interested in bidding for the camera should contact the auction house. I will post a link to my article here when it goes out. 

William 

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Posted (edited)
Am 1.4.2022 um 19:27 schrieb willeica:

As for using it, apart from walking around on the street with 5 million worth of camera in your hands ( think of the insurance costs, if you get any) ...

If it were my camera, I would have no hesitation at all using it on the street without any insurance. Except for some very few Leica aficionados, which you are unlikely to meet out on whatever street you are, everyone else would guess that such an old and seemingly worn out camera is maybe worth 50 bucks nowadays, and was likely aquired by the person using it at a local flea market.

Edited by wizard
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Posted (edited)
46 minutes ago, wizard said:

If it were my camera, I would have no hesitation at all using it on the street without any insurance. Except for some very few Leica aficionados, which you are unlikely to meet out on whatever street you are, everyone else would guess that such an old and seemingly worn out camera is maybe worth 50 bucks nowadays, and was likely aquired by the person using it at a local flea market.

Whatever floats you boat, but if, after spending over 3 million, you needed to insure your investment there would probably be conditions. Also read my article, when it comes out,  about what this camera might be like to use.  No 104 is in a bank vault here in Europe and I suspect so are some others. I also deal with the issue of disapproval of pure per se collecting in my article.

Even if the thief thinks it is only worth 50, you would still be down 3 million. Then it might fall under a truck...........etc

William 

Edited by willeica
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vor einer Stunde schrieb willeica:

Even if the thief thinks it is only worth 50, you would still be down 3 million.

I agree, but my take was that a thief won't go for a battered old camera in the first place, as he would judge the potential resale value to be almost zero. I look forward to reading your article once it becomes available, and I am not opposed to purely collecting things (though I try not to do that myself, but to each his own).

Andy

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vor 2 Stunden schrieb wizard:

If it were my camera, I would have no hesitation at all using it on the street without any insurance. Except for some very few Leica aficionados, which you are unlikely to meet out on whatever street you are, everyone else would guess that such an old and seemingly worn out camera is maybe worth 50 bucks nowadays, and was likely aquired by the person using it at a local flea market.

To say: when knowledge/culture and luck are all... this was sold in 2002 at a garden statuary auction for a mere £5,200...:rolleyes:

https://www.artnews.com/art-news/market/rediscovered-canova-sculpture-christies-auction-1234622168/

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vor 18 Minuten schrieb sabears:

this was sold in 2002 at a garden statuary auction for a mere £5,200...:rolleyes:

And everyone at the time probably thought that this was a lot of money for what seemed to be an unknown sculptor 🙂.

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3 hours ago, wizard said:

I agree, but my take was that a thief won't go for a battered old camera in the first place, as he would judge the potential resale value to be almost zero. I look forward to reading your article once it becomes available, and I am not opposed to purely collecting things (though I try not to do that myself, but to each his own).

Andy

Relying on the lack of knowledge or even the charity of thieves might not be a good overall strategy in the long term. But, if you want to walk around the streets taking photographs with an old camera, there are a lot of cheaper alternatives than spending 3 million Euros on an historical artefact. This one is not necessarily a ‘better’ camera because of its price, but it is a ‘better’ collector’s piece because of its rarity and provenance and the price paid will reflect that. 

I suspect that most people would wonder why anyone would spend such a sum on a camera. Some of this is down to the difference between ‘need’ and ‘want’, which is difficult to explain in any collecting context. 

I hope you enjoy my article when it appears. 
 

William 

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