One of the original Leica 0-Series prototypes from 1923 is for sale
A century ago in 1923, around 23 prototype 35-mm cameras were produced to test and evaluate the new format and the revolutionary design of the first 35-mm camera, leading to the creation of the landmark Leica A camera in 1925. Just 12 of those Leica 0-Series originals are known today and one of them is going to auction on 7 October 2023.
The Leica 0-Series represents the very beginning of the democratization of photography, and they are the pinnacle of photographic collectability. "There's only one camera more expensive than a new Leica," as the saying goes, "and that's an old Leica camera."
The last one to reach auction sold last year for an astonishing €14,400,000 (US$15,147,360) though to be fair, it was the personal camera of the inventor Oskar Barnack.
Four of the five most valuable cameras ever sold have been Leica 0-Series, and they have all been sold by Viennese auction house, Leitz Photographica, a division of Leica.
As can be seen, the estimate for this camera is between €1.5 and €2.0 million (US$1.6 and $2.1 million), though the last one to come to auction was five years ago, and it sold for €2.4 million (US$2,953,920)
The auction on 7 October 2023 is a break from tradition in many respects, because German auction house Wetzlar Camera Auctions will be handling the sale and it will hence become, almost certainly, the only camera to sell for more than US$1 million that hasn’t been sold via Leitz Photographica.