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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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18 minutes ago, LocalHero1953 said:

Is that how auctions work then? The ignorant rich don't care what happened to the camera when, as long as it was Oskar's, while the true collector will do their own due diligence?
That takes a bit of pressure off the auction houses.

 

The due diligence, which any collector, rich or not rich, might do would include looking at what the auction house has. This particular auction house, being owned by Leica,  has full access to all relevant Leica historical records. Most rich people did not become rich by being 'ignorant'. They are, in my experience, very careful about how they spend their money. 

 

4 minutes ago, Anbaric said:

If nothing else, this thread will give bidders something to google that will lead them to Wizard's detective work.

Credit to Wizard for finding the photograph, which may have been taken about 83 years ago, which was 16 years into the life of this 99 year old camera. I'd be interested to hear your view about how this photo might influence bidders who will largely be bidding based on 

1. This is a 0 Series Camera 

2. This camera was used by Oskar Barnack. 

The fact that the camera has been altered and engraved is known and has been acknowledged long before this - see Jim Lager's book published almost 30 years ago.  Some of these alterations may have happened after 1939, by which time Oskar had been dead for 3 years, and I would be interested to know why you would think that this would alter the views of potential bidders for this item. For the purposes of answering this, you could assume that you are a wealthy bidder who was about to bid for the camera and then you Googled and found the photo.  Would it stop you from bidding or would you put a ceiling on your bids and why? 

Can I add an observation here? There appears to be a certain antipathy, not just here, but elsewhere as well, towards wealthy people (the overly rich?) acquiring rare cameras for huge sums. I don't really see this happening much in regard to such people buying paintings and other art works for huge sums, such as the auction this week of a work by Andy Warhol https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-61339179 Agree or disagree?

There are, of course, some people who instinctively dislike seeing anyone toting a Leica. 'Male jewellery' and all that sort of thing. This does not bother me at all as I am not self conscious about any camera that I might use, although I would have a certain curiosity about why this might concern somebody else. 

William 

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34 minutes ago, willeica said:

Credit to Wizard for finding the photograph, which may have been taken about 83 years ago, which was 16 years into the life of this 99 year old camera.

[Deleted - arithmetic error!]

But the point is that the camera was in a museum and recognised for its importance already in 1939. And it sounds like (TBC, of course) that the subsequent alterations were made post 1960, perhaps in N America, not part of typical factory upgrades.

To be honest, I'm not too fussed about this - I am just curious to know what makes someone spend N millions on such a camera rather than (N-1) millions, and what they base their decisions on. How far would it have to be altered before they would pay less?

When I buy it, the first thing I'm going to do is rip that VF off and replace it with a black, unengraved one. Would that increase or decrease its value?*

 

* Sorry, I should have remembered this site does not do valuations.

Edited by LocalHero1953
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1 hour ago, LocalHero1953 said:

Is that how auctions work then? The ignorant rich don't care what happened to the camera when, as long as it was Oskar's, while the true collector will do their own due diligence?
That takes a bit of pressure off the auction houses.

If anyone gets the documentation from the auction house, I'm sure we would all like to know how it is described.

Why ignorant rich? Very likely they're not so ignorant?  And anyone who studies the classic cameras market / auctions, is aware that over the years they can lose and gain 'body furniture' ... the knobs, dials, and coverings .. and accessories . Whoever bids on '0 Series' #105 will be very aware of its significance. 

I once owned a Leica Anastigmat SN 184 which was "poo poo'd" by Leica Forum member 'experts' ...  partly because of its body furniture ... but when it was subsequently 'stripped down' and examined by Leica expert Peter Grisaffi (one of the UK's foremost authorities on vintage Leica cameras) he advised me the body was a genuine Anastigmat ... and presented me with his photos taken of the dismantling ... but forum members still insisted it was not genuine ... even though they'd never handled the camera. There was something possibly 'amiss' with the camera which is why I decided to return it to the dealer ... but it was essentially the genuine Anastigmat #184 ... and I wish i'd not been so hasty in returning it ... I should have kept it. 

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33 minutes ago, willeica said:

acquiring rare cameras for huge sums.

$3,000,000 or whatever is pocket change for the ignorant rich; it is not a huge sum of money.  You mention the Warhol painting.  No one mentioned that Mercedes Benz that just sold for $142,000,000.  

If you bought this camera in the automotive world, you would have it restored to its original condition to make it a 100 points camera.  In the camera collector world any change from this point on, even to restore it to original, is considered bad.

If you want a null series Leica that is in original condition, don't bid on this one and wait for another one to come to auction.  If you want a camera owned by Oscar, this is your  opportunity.  From Paul's postings, I assume Paul is not going to bid.

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My guess, and we'll call it a guess, is that the engraving on the finder was done by the first American buyer. I did not know him personally, but did know the second and third owners. The second owner has been deceased for many years. The third one is still alive. Obviously, I cannot ask the seecond owner if he made any of the modifications. I am relatively certain that the bottom plate change was to be able to use standard Leitz cassettes, and this would be something that Barnack himself would have done. The advance knob; not sure about that one. We do know for sure that this camera was originally used by Henri Dumur, and then it went to Barnack and then to his son Conrad. Conrad loaned it to the Deutches Museum, and then had it returned to hiim and then sold to the first American collector in about 1960. I wonder what princely sum Conrad got for it?

I can ask Lager to see if he knows any more.

Heinz Richter, who is a member of the LUF, did a story on the Ur and this camera back in 2013. Here is a link https://gmpphoto.blogspot.com/2013/03/

Another thing I do know for sure is that none of these pieces, including the Ur, was highly valued by Leica for many years. I attended the Leica School as a 17 year old in 1973, and then the Akademie twice as a dealer in the 80's. At each of these Leica schools, I was allowed to hold the Ur in my bare hands. We all were allowed to do so in the classroom. They simply wheeled a cart with a hinged top box into the classroom after lunch one day and said have at it!

The last time I saw the Ur was on the LHSA meeting in Germany in 2006. We were at Solms, and they brought it in with armed guards, and allowed no one to touch it, only look. I had to laugh remembering holding it three times before on my own!

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32 minutes ago, derleicaman said:

bottom plate change was to be able to use standard Leitz cassettes,

Times change. A surprise that the then owner didn't have the foresight to retain the original bottom plate, or was the original modified.

Compared to rare old cars (Bugatti Royales come to mind) and other art works, for the very wealthy any Leica is 'affordable', and why so many black paint M's are in HK.

Lots of 'C' and 'K' 's being used in Heinz Richter's piece, that also reveals the 'mystery' second/third owner after C?Konrad. 

Edited by pedaes
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Jim Lager discussing Leica '0 Series' #122 at the recent TLS AGM Weekend ... SN clearly visible ... The SN of a camera identifies the body ... it's the main ID criterion ... in the same way that a classic car chassis number ID's the car. Collectors unlikely to be too concerned about #105's engraving ... the successful bidder will want the camera to display in a cabinet in  their mini Leica museum ... likely in in Japan or China ... where they will invite other collector friends  to view it ... other collectors who will be very envious and maybe wish they'd bid a little higher to own it themselves. 

#105 was owned by Oscar Barnack ... it's the genesis camera ... from which all the many many millions of subsequent 24mm x36mm format miniature cameras evolved ... including current FF Japanese mirrorless models .. and that's why it's such a historically important landmark camera. 

dunk 

 

Edited by dkCambridgeshire
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1 hour ago, LocalHero1953 said:

 

To be honest, I'm not too fussed about this - I am just curious to know what makes someone spend N millions on such a camera rather than (N-1) millions, and what they base their decisions on. How far would it have to be altered before they would pay less?

When I buy it, the first thing I'm going to do is rip that VF off and replace it with a black, unengraved one. Would that increase or decrease its value?*

 

 

I'm not fussed at all with how other people spend their money on anything, unless it is for criminality or adversely affects the lives of others. Changing the viewfinder might not change the value by a large percentage, but why would you do this?

 

1 hour ago, dkCambridgeshire said:

Why ignorant rich? Very likely they're not so ignorant?  And anyone who studies the classic cameras market / auctions, is aware that over the years they can lose and gain 'body furniture' ... the knobs, dials, and coverings .. and accessories . Whoever bids on '0 Series' #105 will be very aware of its significance. 

I once owned a Leica Anastigmat SN 184 which was "poo poo'd" by Leica Forum member 'experts' ...  partly because of its body furniture ... but when it was subsequently 'stripped down'

Sounds like the 'same old, same old', Dunk. History does repeat itself. Some of what you describe sounds like Harry Enfield's pub bore character who prefaced everything with 'what you wanna' do is'. It was great to see you again at the recent Leica Society meeting in Buxton. People who had not met Jim Lager before were charmed by the way that he always gave a straight and polite answer to queries about vintage Leicas in a manner that made it absolutely clear that he does know what he is talking about. He is exactly the same when replying to emails which he always begins with 'Greetings' and ends with 'keep me informed'.

1 hour ago, zeitz said:

If you want a null series Leica that is in original condition, don't bid on this one and wait for another one to come to auction.

You will be waiting a long time as I don't believe that one exists in original condition. 122 may have been the closest. As for cars, I don't believe that any Ferrari 250 GTO is in original condition and, for what is worth, there are more 250 GTOs than 0 Series Leicas. 

1 hour ago, derleicaman said:

My guess, and we'll call it a guess, is that the engraving on the finder was done by the first American buyer. I did not know him personally, but did know the second and third owners. The second owner has been deceased for many years. The third one is still alive. Obviously, I cannot ask the seecond owner if he made any of the modifications. I am relatively certain that the bottom plate change was to be able to use standard Leitz cassettes, and this would be something that Barnack himself would have done. The advance knob; not sure about that one. We do know for sure that this camera was originally used by Henri Dumur, and then it went to Barnack and then to his son Conrad. Conrad loaned it to the Deutches Museum, and then had it returned to hiim and then sold to the first American collector in about 1960. I wonder what princely sum Conrad got for it?

I can ask Lager to see if he knows any more.

Heinz Richter, who is a member of the LUF, did a story on the Ur and this camera back in 2013. Here is a link https://gmpphoto.blogspot.com/2013/03/

Another thing I do know for sure is that none of these pieces, including the Ur, was highly valued by Leica for many years. I attended the Leica School as a 17 year old in 1973, and then the Akademie twice as a dealer in the 80's. At each of these Leica schools, I was allowed to hold the Ur in my bare hands. We all were allowed to do so in the classroom. They simply wheeled a cart with a hinged top box into the classroom after lunch one day and said have at it!

The last time I saw the Ur was on the LHSA meeting in Germany in 2006. We were at Solms, and they brought it in with armed guards, and allowed no one to touch it, only look. I had to laugh remembering holding it three times before on my own!

Thanks for that, Bill. Lager says that he only saw the Ur-Leica once and it was on a trolley in a corridor in the Leica Works. You could well be right about the first US owner, whose photograph is shown in the Auctioneer's little grey book about No 105 handing it over to the second owner, but the image is too small to see any details of the camera. Lars mentioned the need to make a change to use FILCAs which may explain the base plate change as well. I suspect that the Ur Leica is in a vault somewhere. I was also told just a few weeks ago by an LHSA and Leica Forum member, who knows the owner, that No 104 is in a bank vault.  Following on our emails last night about M875, I was thinking that Leica should allow someone to do a complete study now on the available prototypes up to and including any 0 Series that may be around. This should be done before circumstances (fire, theft, sale, dispersion etc) make this impossible. Anyone who has read Ulf Richter's Oskar Barnack - From the Idea to the Leica- ( translated into English by Rolf Fricke for LHSA) will know that Barnack was a man who was on a constant search to improve his creation, even after it went into series production with the Model I. Good enough was never enough for Oskar, which is another reason why you will not find a 0 Series in original condition. I'm trying to picture the 17 year old you handling the Ur Leica in a classroom. They must have used the same trolley that Lager saw it on!

William 

Edited by willeica
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On 4/23/2022 at 1:16 AM, zeitz said:

The buyer will hardly consider this purchase to squander anything.

This is a high grade investment.  The buyer will likely receive an appreciable gain when he decides to resell in the future.  The gain will also likely outperform any other investment he might consider.

Both the seller and the buyer will pay significant taxes.  The US seller will pay taxes on his gains at the highest tax rate possible under the current tax laws, regardless of who in the world buys it.  I assume a buyer in the EU would pay VAT.  Hopefully a US buyer could have the camera delivered from the owner in the US so he does not have to pay duty to reimport it.  Most states will also claim sales tax (called Use Tax) on this purchase.  Finally, if the current administration in the US gets its way, unrealized capital gains would be taxed.  So one could do better owning collectibles instead of securities.

VAT is payable by the buyer only on the auctioneer's 'Buyer's Premium' element ... and seller pays VAT on the auctioneers sale commission 

Edited by dkCambridgeshire
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12 minutes ago, dkCambridgeshire said:

VAT is payable only on the auctioneer's commission element ... unless seller is VAT registered in Germany 

Wish that were true! My understanding is on import to UK duty and VAT is payable. The VAT on commission is payable in Germany. If you are correct, I can afford more than I thought, but twice zilch is zilch!

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1 minute ago, dkCambridgeshire said:

VAT is payable only on the auctioneer's commission element ... unless seller is VAT registered in Germany 

There are all kinds of temporary import/export tax schemes for such items. This camera has been doing a lot of travelling in recent times. It was in Wetzlar last September for the opening of the Ernst Leitz Museum where I saw Dr Kaufmann with the camera in his hands and where I saw it later in a high security transparent case inside the museum. The camera remained in Wetzlar until last December. It was on display in Los Angeles a few weeks ago and I was invited by Leica USA to go to the event, but it clashed with Jim Lager's visit to the UK Society meeting in Buxton and, besides, I had seen the camera before. I expect to see the camera again when I attend the auction in Wetzlar in June. As for the tax aspects, I don't think that the eventual purchaser would need advice from us about how to handle their tax affairs in whatever part of the world they may be living. Likewise for the seller. Whether those people make a gain/loss or have to pay tax is no concern of mine. 

William 

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3 minutes ago, pedaes said:

Wish that were true! My understanding is on import to UK duty and VAT is payable. The VAT on commission is payable in Germany. If you are correct, I can afford more than I thought, but twice zilch is zilch!

The OP mentioned 'buyer in EU' ... not in UK .. I've corrected my error in the edit to my post ...  

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32 minutes ago, willeica said:

Changing the viewfinder might not change the value by a large percentage, but why would you do this?

Because I would like to return it to its condition in the year ....... er - I don't know! It's the same question for any valuable artifact which has been altered over the years. It's the question painting restorers have to answer: just clean off the dirt, or replace the damaged bits. It sounds like cars have to be restored to factory condition. And with a camera, when do alterations become something that shouldn't have happened?

I was once involved in a discussion about Stonehenge and how the area should be restored after the main road next to it is put in a tunnel. Should it be taken back to a stone age landscape? The time of Constable's 1835 painting? Or just pre-motorcar?

Back to your question and my initial response: I would want to return it back to the condition it was in when it left the Barnack family. But there's no right answer. 

Edited by LocalHero1953
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1 minute ago, willeica said:

There are all kinds of temporary import/export tax schemes for such items. This camera has been doing a lot of travelling in recent times. It was in Wetzlar last September for the opening of the Ernst Leitz Museum where I saw Dr Kaufmann with the camera in his hands and where I saw it later in a high security transparent case inside the museum. The camera remained in Wetzlar until last December. It was on display in Los Angeles a few weeks ago and I was invited by Leica USA to go to the event, but it clashed with Jim Lager's visit to the UK Society meeting in Buxton and, besides, I had seen the camera before. I expect to see the camera again when I attend the auction in Wetzlar in June. As for the tax aspects, I don't think that the eventual purchaser would need advice from us about how to handle their tax affairs in whatever part of the world they may be living. Likewise for the seller. Whether those people make a gain/loss or have to pay tax is no concern of mine. 

William 

You are right about the tax aspects William. People in this league are more than able to handle the tax and accounting aspects of all this.

I saw #105 in Wetzlar last November when I was there with my tour. The display where it faced out to the Museum with the heavy glass was wide open on the back side, which is the Archive. I didn't realize this until we were standing in the Archive itself. And there was 105 right in front of us in the window!

The current owner has his own private jet, so I don't think he has to resort to plebeian means of transport like UPS, DHL or FedEx!

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1 hour ago, LocalHero1953 said:

Because I would like to return it to its condition in the year ....... er - I don't know! It's the same question for any valuable artifact which has been altered over the years. It's the question painting restorers have to answer: just clean off the dirt, or replace the damaged bits. It sounds like cars have to be restored to factory condition. And with a camera, when do alterations become something that shouldn't have happened?

I was once involved in a discussion about Stonehenge and how the area should be restored after the main road next to it is put in a tunnel. Should it be taken back to a stone age landscape? The time of Constable's 1835 painting? Or just pre-motorcar?

Back to your question and my initial response: I would want to return it back to the condition it was in when it left the Barnack family. But there's no right answer. 

I could say that modern alterations would never equate to original condition, but if it were your camera you could do what you want with it. 

2 hours ago, derleicaman said:

You are right about the tax aspects William. People in this league are more than able to handle the tax and accounting aspects of all this.

I saw #105 in Wetzlar last November when I was there with my tour. The display where it faced out to the Museum with the heavy glass was wide open on the back side, which is the Archive. I didn't realize this until we were standing in the Archive itself. And there was 105 right in front of us in the window!

The current owner has his own private jet, so I don't think he has to resort to plebeian means of transport like UPS, DHL or FedEx!

I was in the archive too and there was clear air between the camera and myself, but I did not dare ask Tim if he could take it out for me. I took a photo of Dr Kaufmann holding No 105 in one hand and a Leica phone in the other. He was speaking in German, but I think he was making a size comparison and a bit of an Alpha and Omega point.

William 

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I guess I was lucky to see 112 and 129 in the early 80's when they were still in the Newton collection. Does anyone know exactly how many O series were made?  132 has been ugraded extensively, so i am not sure of its original form.  I have never found any record of 130/131/133/ and 134, were they possibly prototypes.  or production.   135 is shown as a very early production camera. Lager suggests 30 were built,  and that 131 wherever it is, was the first "production" camera.  Seems correct as far as I know.

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4 hours ago, alan mcfall said:

I guess I was lucky to see 112 and 129 in the early 80's when they were still in the Newton collection. Does anyone know exactly how many O series were made?  132 has been ugraded extensively, so i am not sure of its original form.  I have never found any record of 130/131/133/ and 134, were they possibly prototypes.  or production.   135 is shown as a very early production camera. Lager suggests 30 were built,  and that 131 wherever it is, was the first "production" camera.  Seems correct as far as I know.

Alan, people are talking about 22-25 0 Series cameras in total, but someone needs to do a full exercise before it is too late. The full story from the Ur Leica up to the first production I Models needs to be documented. There is also the Kisselbach camera and the one which was withdrawn from auction recently. In addition there is M875, the exposure test camera, which may predate the Ur Leica, and some part pieces. I will talk to the people at the Leica Archives about this when I am in Wetzlar in June. They have a lot of artefacts and information, but the real expertise lies outside the company. Access to the archives is very limited at present. Meanwhile, at LHSA we have a lot of our archives online and members have historical material which they can access from their own homes. What we do not have are the Leitz design, production and delivery details which would be key to a comprehensive study of early Leitz/Leica cameras. 

William 

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14 hours ago, willeica said:

Some of these alterations may have happened after 1939, by which time Oskar had been dead for 3 years, and I would be interested to know why you would think that this would alter the views of potential bidders for this item. For the purposes of answering this, you could assume that you are a wealthy bidder who was about to bid for the camera and then you Googled and found the photo.  Would it stop you from bidding or would you put a ceiling on your bids and why?

I'm a little old for homework assignments! And I don't pretend to understand the thinking of people who are prepared to splash out millions on a camera. But perhaps if the bidding were approaching my comfort limit, I might have second thoughts about throwing another half a million on the table if (say) I suspected my object of desire had been defaced and blinged up a bit by some guy in Florida. For other bidders, this might be a trivial detail, and I'm sure there are some who wouldn't care if a previous owner had painted it purple and burned 'Zeiss Sucks!' into the Vulcanite with a hot knife, provided it could be shown Barnack had used it for 15 minutes and they'd have bragging rights on His Camera.

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15 minutes ago, Anbaric said:

I'm a little old for homework assignments! And I don't pretend to understand the thinking of people who are prepared to splash out millions on a camera. But perhaps if the bidding were approaching my comfort limit, I might have second thoughts about throwing another half a million on the table if (say) I suspected my object of desire had been defaced and blinged up a bit by some guy in Florida. For other bidders, this might be a trivial detail, and I'm sure there are some who wouldn't care if a previous owner had painted it purple and burned 'Zeiss Sucks!' into the Vulcanite with a hot knife, provided it could be shown Barnack had used it for 15 minutes and they'd have bragging rights on His Camera.

There was an oil company in the 70’s that painted their portable property purple, including cameras.

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