1923 Leica 0-Series camera captures world record with 63.6% increase

A rare 1923 Leica 0-series set a world record price for a camera at auction in Vienna on Saturday (May 12), with a 63.6% increase on the previous record.


Leica 0-series 35mm camera
Leica 0-series 35mm camera

The Leica was one of just 25 models that were created to test the market for 35mm cameras, the standard film gauge used in photography today. The prototype was designed by Oskar Barnack, a keen photographer and asthma sufferer who worked for Leica, a German company then specialising in lenses and microscopes.

Barnack originally proposed the idea in an attempt to create a camera that would be lighter and easier for him to manoeuvre, given his condition. After realising the potential of the 35mm film which was being used in Hollywood, and following a successful pitch to the company's bosses, the decision was made to produce a trial run.

Following the successful 0-series test came the Leica A, the first commercially produced 35mm camera. Leica remains one of the top camera manufacturers in the world today.

The piece achieved €2.16m ($2.78m) at the auction, against an estimate of €400,000-600,000 ($515,000-772,000). The sale beat the previous camera record, held by another example of the 0-series prototype, which sold for €1.32m ($1.69m) at the same auction house in 2011.

Also featuring in the auction was another Leica camera, one of only two M3 models to be gold-plated by the company. This flashy item sold for €360,000 (463,250), a 300% increase on its high estimate of €90,000 ($116,000).

PFC Auctions has a great range of signed photographs in its current auction, which is now accepting bids.

Paul Fraser Collectibles, meanwhile, has this unique photograph album from Oliver Leese, a British general who served during the second world war.

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