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Early books about Leicas


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I have a small collection of early Leica literature and was wondering what books about Leicas were available before the first edition of the Leica Manual in August 1935?

Books that I have include:

  • an English translation of Fritz Vith’s Leica Handbook (the Foreword is dated Summer 1933)
  • a 3rd edition of Karl A Barleben’s The Leica Data Book (first printing 1933, 3rd edition 1934)
  • Paul Wolff’s Meine Erfahrungen mit der Leica (1934)

I’ve heard of Herbert C McKay’s Photography with a Leica Camera, published in the late 1920s, but I’ve not seen a copy.

What other books were there for the budding Leicaphile in the 1920s or early 1930s?

Alan

 

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Willard D. Morgan & Henry M. Lester -"Leica Manual" appeared in many editions since August 1935. I don't have an early prewar edition but only the "entirely revised and re-set Twelfth Edition" from 1951. This at least is the most comprehensive book about Leica photography (at its time) you can find.

A rather rare one - in French - is Marcel Natkin "La Photographie sur le Petit Format Le Leica" - it already had its 8th edition ("revue et corrigée") in 1933. 

Curt Emmermann's "Leica Technik" appeared as a magazine from 1931 onwards and was later (I think from 1936 onwards) edited as a book.

vor 1 Stunde schrieb nf3996:

an English translation of Fritz Vith’s Leica Handbook (the Foreword is dated Summer 1933)

Does this English forword also conclude with "Leica-Heil"? My German edition with a foreword from November 1933 does. In the text one also finds a few references to Nazi politics. Vith originally was a very factual and reliable author - its a shame that he so quickly adopted to the Nazis.

 

 

 

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Hello,
There is a book by Marcel Natkin, the first edition of which dates from 1933. The 4th edition that I have is from 1936, but it is in French.
What surprises me is that in the 4th edition Natkin describes the 250 reporter and it seems to me that this camera appeared later... 

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vor 11 Minuten schrieb PG Black nickel:

There is a book by Marcel Natkin, the first edition of which dates from 1933. The 4th edition that I have is from 1936,

Yes, you are right. I just looked at the copyright, which is dated 1933. The 8th ed. I have dates from 1946. 

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1 hour ago, UliWer said:

Does this English forword also conclude with "Leica-Heil"? My German edition with a foreword from November 1933 does. In the text one also finds a few references to Nazi politics. Vith originally was a very factual and reliable author - its a shame that he so quickly adopted to the Nazis.

No "Leica-Heil" in my English edition. The Foreword concludes: "Kind regards and best wishes for successful photography!"

Alan

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3 hours ago, PG Black nickel said:

Hello,
There is a book by Marcel Natkin, the first edition of which dates from 1933. The 4th edition that I have is from 1936, but it is in French.
What surprises me is that in the 4th edition Natkin describes the 250 reporter and it seems to me that this camera appeared later... 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1936 the 250 was "available" first items date to 1934, with some items based on Leica II - no slow speeds - built probably in 1933; I write "available"...  on several standard catalogs (France 1935, USA 1934 and 38) it is indeed not listed; on the contrary, a 4 pages leaflet printed in 1934, in italian, extensively illustrates the 250, and lists codes and prices (LOOMY - body - and LOOYE - body+Elmar) 

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"Hello,
There is a book by Marcel Natkin, the first edition of which dates from 1933. The 4th edition that I have is from 1936, but it is in French.
What surprises me is that in the 4th edition Natkin describes the 250 reporter and it seems to me that this camera appeared later... "

I would appreciate to see a picture about the description of the 250 reporter, mine is from 1934.

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Hello Jean Claude,
I'm enclosing a copy of the page about the 250 reporter.
I got the dates a bit mixed up, I thought that this camera came out later, which was a mistake on my part!

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The phrase "Ce modèle sera particulièrement apprecié par les reporters à qui il évitera..." makes you think it was written before the camera was on the market. In my edition from 1946 (p. 31) it reads: "Ce modèle du Leica est particulièrement apprecié des reporters auxquels il évite ..."

Edited by UliWer
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The future tense is used, which may mean that the 250 reporters had not yet been delivered to Tiranty at the time of printing. Is it mentioned in the 2nd or 3rd edition?
One of the rare cameras engraved with the S-T initials bears No. 260051, which puts it at around 1937... mystery as to whether there were any before then!

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On 2/14/2024 at 1:23 PM, UliWer said:

Does this English forword also conclude with "Leica-Heil"? My German edition with a foreword from November 1933 does. In the text one also finds a few references to Nazi politics. Vith originally was a very factual and reliable author - its a shame that he so quickly adopted to the Nazis.

Would that have been understood as a Nazi reference at the time? As a non German speaker, I only know that the word is part of two well-known Nazi salutes, but also has innocuous meanings (though it's hard to see why political references would otherwise be inserted into a camera book - were they presented in a favourable light?). I imagine Vith's neighbour Ernst Leitz would not have been impressed by any propaganda of this kind in a book about his company's products.

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5 hours ago, PG Black nickel said:

The future tense is used, which may mean that the 250 reporters had not yet been delivered to Tiranty at the time of printing. Is it mentioned in the 2nd or 3rd edition?
One of the rare cameras engraved with the S-T initials bears No. 260051, which puts it at around 1937... mystery as to whether there were any before then!

It would be interesting searching in the factory records where the first batches of 250 were actually delivered... the fact that the Italian importer - cattaneo - had printed a detailed leaflet in June 1934, with prices, codes, and even basic accessories, makes to think that some items from the first "regulalr" batches (120 - apparently 1934) were indeed delivered abroad.

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BTW,,, 2280 It. Liras in 1934 was a noticeable amount... a popular song of the era said "se potessi avere / 1000 Lire al mese..."  ("Oh could I cash in, 1000 Lire a month ..." 😁A honest FIAT car - not luxury - of the era (Fiat 508) was in the range of 10.000 Liras

Edited by luigi bertolotti
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vor 1 Stunde schrieb Anbaric:

Would that have been understood as a Nazi reference at the time? As a non German speaker, I only know that the word is part of two well-known Nazi salutes, but also has innocuous meanings (though it's hard to see why political references would otherwise be inserted into a camera book - were they presented in a favourable light?). I imagine Vith's neighbour Ernst Leitz would not have been impressed by any propaganda of this kind in a book about his company's products.

Yes, the „…-Heil“ was used in other than political contexts before („Waidmanns-Heil“ by hunters, „Petri-Heil“ by fishers etc.). Though it’s interesting when you compare the early editions. 

In the 1933 edition you find sentences like „The Leica hasn‘t yet ended its triumphant march worldwide“, or „…our German industry marches at the front“ - both not in the 1930 edition. 1934 you find photos of people in party uniforms marching up. Later the Xenon was appraised with the description that one could take photos of party assemblies by night …

Things which seemed to be innocuous in the beginning slowly got a „special“ context. Though perhaps the author didn‘t mean to imply anything with these phrases, photos and descriptions - it was just normal for him…

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54 minutes ago, UliWer said:

Yes, the „…-Heil“ was used in other than political contexts before („Waidmanns-Heil“ by hunters, „Petri-Heil“ by fishers etc.). Though it’s interesting when you compare the early editions. 

In the 1933 edition you find sentences like „The Leica hasn‘t yet ended its triumphant march worldwide“, or „…our German industry marches at the front“ - both not in the 1930 edition. 1934 you find photos of people in party uniforms marching up. Later the Xenon was appraised with the description that one could take photos of party assemblies by night …

Things which seemed to be innocuous in the beginning slowly got a „special“ context. Though perhaps the author didn‘t mean to imply anything with these phrases, photos and descriptions - it was just normal for him…

It will be interesting to see if any hint of this has has survived in the English edition (I do have a copy I must dig out, but I don't recall the year - I may read it now in a different light). It may of course have been edited differently for the overseas market - perhaps the conclusion of the Foreword isn't the only thing they changed.

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I happen to own the 3rd edition of 1933 of Fritz Vith's Handbuch from the estate of a German photographer's couple who fled to the Netherlands in 1933 because the man was jewish. I can't tell if they brought the book with them or bought it in the Netherlands, and I always wonder how they felt about that "Leica-Heil!". The man committed suicide when Germans troops invaded the Netherlands. Vith wrote a contribution in ther 1941 'Festschrift' for Ernst Leitz II in which he wrote about 135mm slides in school teaching and praised the "nationalsocialist revolution" because it brought the slides to teaching in schools.

Back to the original theme: Leitz published a brochure in September 1929 Wie arbeitet man mit Leitz "Leica"-Kamera, only 11 pages but interesting nonetheless. How to hold the camera, what to expect and how to enlarge the negatives etc.

Lex

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And Alan, the  Leica Manual by Morgan & Lester first published in 1935 is a very interesting book with lots of information. This book has known many later editions and was revised several times, and Morgan's son Douglas Morgan made a completely revised edition in 1973. Still about Leica but expanded into the 35mm photography world, with interesting chapters written by specialist authors, just like Willard Morgan and Henry Lester had started the book.

Lex

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On 2/15/2024 at 2:03 PM, Anbaric said:

I imagine Vith's neighbour Ernst Leitz would not have been impressed by any propaganda of this kind in a book about his company's products.

Fritz Vitth, second from the left and Ernst Leitz far right.

I have submitted this as a PDF and not a photo as the image may cause offence to some people

Fritz Vith .pdfFritz Vith .pdf

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On 2/14/2024 at 11:28 AM, nf3996 said:

 

I’ve heard of Herbert C McKay’s Photography with a Leica Camera, published in the late 1920s, but I’ve not seen a copy.

 

 

Here are two small brochures by Herbert C McKay circa late 1920's

There are many books / brochures / catalogues pre 1935, it depends on what you would like to learn about Leica or photography of this period

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