Last Updated on 03/30/2022 by Mark Beckenbach
I’d laugh if you told me one of the most historic and rarest Leica cameras would be up for auction with a start bid of only 1,000,000 Euro. I mean, come on, that’s a museum-worthy piece! However, that’s exactly what one of the rarest Leicas will start at in a new Leitz auction. And up for bidding will be a 0-series Leica (no. 105): one of the earliest Leica cameras ever made.
“0-Series camera are also referred to as the Null series,” says Zeb Andrews, a friend of The Phoblographer and the GM over at Blue Moon Camera. “The Leica 0 series was a pre-production Leica made after the prototype UR-Leica but before the first commercially available Leica I cameras.” He stated that they were between the prototypes (the Ur series) and the first production cameras. Around 20 examples were made, and Leica estimates that maybe a dozen are still in existence. Indeed, that makes these cameras some of the rarest Leica cameras around.
Years ago, Blue Moon Camera sold a reproduction of one of these cameras.
The 0-Series had a fixed 50mm f2.8 lens that couldn’t be removed. These earlier cameras, according to Zeb, had an incorporated lens instead of the M39 mount. It basically made them fixed lens cameras. No. 105 was also the personal camera of Oskar Barnack, the founder of Leica and the 35mm film format. Because of this, the starting price will be 2,000,000 to 3,000,000 Euros. The most expensive camera sold to date was one of these 0-series cameras.
The 0-Series had a genuinely fascinating quirk as well! “You had to put the lens cap on when winding the film because the shutter curtains didn’t close,” Zeb explained. “Otherwise, you’d fog the film. But this was for only the first seven cameras.” As a result, those cameras came with a tethered cap to cover the lens. Later batches were built with shutter curtains that would close to protect the film during winding, but they kept the tethered cap feature.
“This is the seed from which the whole Leica tree grew,” proclaims Zeb. “Every Leica flowed down from this and in that sense, this an incredibly important camera. It wasn’t necessarily important for popularity but more so for the design, and impact that it had on subsequent Leica cameras.”
According to the press release, other cameras are also to be given away. It states:
“The analogue Leica MP with the serial number 5630769 and the Leica Elmar-M 1:2.8/50 with the serial number 3739015 are unique pieces that stem from a cooperation between Leica Camera AG and Leitz Photographica Auction. The decorative metal exterior parts of the camera were coated with a layer of real gold by means of electroplating.The camera’s top plate has a further special feature: It does not bear any of the typical engravings. The camera’s serial number is discreetly engraved on the underside of the winding lever, making this particular Leica MP unique. The set is complemented by a black Leica Elmar-M 1:2.8/50, reworked directly at Leica Camera AG in Wetzlar. Instead of the usual engravings laid out in white paint, this lens has gold-colored engravings to match the camera.”
You can check out the Leitz Auction here for yourself. If you’re genuinely interested, we also have written a history of the Leica-H, one of the rarest Leica cameras ever made that never hit the market.