Prototypes of camera bodies and lenses are among the curiosities and sometimes oddities that catch the eye of collectors, but they often come with a hefty price tag. Make it a rare Leica and you’re guaranteed to make the price double. Today’s vintage find on ebay is one such perfect example — an intriguing and rare Leitz Leica M 30cm Stereo Lens Prototype. It’s all yours if you have a little over $46,000 to spare.
Some of you may be familiar with Leica’s interesting selection of stereo lenses, but this seems to be an extraordinary piece. According to the listing by Vienna-based seller Jo Geier (jo-geier), the item is a 100% authentic prototype straight from the Leitz factory. It was made in 1954, in the same year that the famed Leica M3 was introduced. It also comes with a Visoflex I mirror reflex, which has an M mount flange the seller hasn’t seen before. “Totally different style of it’s finish and the engraving is different to any other.”
The front of the lens has a Leitz accessory ring mounted for pointing to the direction being photographed, while on the other end is a modified OHTEO stereo viewer. The prototype stereo lens is also reportedly in “exactly the same construction” as the M39 Leica Screw Mount version shown in the Leitz Fotokonstruktionen book authored by Wilhelm Albert. Together with Oskar Barnack, Wilhelm Albert was one of the major inventors and creators of many Leitz products during Leica’s early years.
Apart from the information provided by Jo Geier, there doesn’t seem to be any other info about this curious-looking stereo lens. For all we know, it could be one of a handful of prototypes developed for this design but never really went into production. Whatever the case, if this is something you’re interested in adding to your cabinet of vintage camera curiosities, better be prepared to buy it now at $46,363.68 or make your best offer on the ebay listing.
All images from the ebay listing by Jo Geier