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39th Leitz Photographica Auction will include rare Leica MP, prototype prime & much more

The 39th Leitz Photographica Auction is coming up, taking place on November 20 at the Hotel Bristol in Vienna, Austria. Ahead of the auction, Leica has highlighted various rare Leitz/Leica camera equipment people will be able to bid on next month.

Among the collection due for auction is a rare Leica MP Black Paint No. 55 camera. It has an A- condition grade and was built in 1957. The serial number is MP-55. Leica writes, ‘With a total number of only 412 units produced, the MP is among the rarest Leica models of all time. The black-paint version was produced only 141 times and acquired mainly by professional photographers. Many of the famous Magnum photographers used MP cameras. Today it is among the most sought-after Leicas of all.’ Of the individual unit available at the 39th Leitz Auction, Leica says, ‘The camera offered here is in beautiful condition, with only minimal signs of use. It comes with a matching Leicavit MP in black paint finish – it is for sure one of the best examples of this special camera we have seen.’ The starting price will be €150,000 (just over $174,000) and the auction estimates a hammer price of €300,000-350,000 ($348,000-406,000).

Leica MP Black Paint No. 55. Image courtesy of Leitz Photographica Auction.

Another expensive item up for auction is a prototype M Summarit 5cm F1.4 lens. The serial number ‘A’ suggests it is likely the first Leica 50mm F1.4 lens with a Leica M bayonet. Included with the lens are an original 1958 blueprint and a written report from Leica expert Ottmar Michaely. The lens is in nearly perfect condition and has unique features, including an unusual focus tab and reversed knurling on the focus ring. The lens will start at €60,000 ($70,000), and the auction expects a hammer price up to €140,000 ($163,000).

Prototype Summarit 5cm F1.4 lens. Image courtesy of Leitz Photographica Auction.

Not every item on offer is a Leica. The auction also includes other rare photographic equipment. One such example is the Zeiss Ikon Contax rifle 543/75, which was developed 80 years ago for the 1936 Olympic Games in Germany. It’s a rare setup for the Contax camera, and it was developed for sports photographer Lothar Rübelt. It includes a rifle stock with a mounted camera and cable release system. The included Sonnar 18cm F2.8 lens is quite rare, as is the Contax II housing and matching viewfinder. Everything is listed as being in ‘good’ condition. The starting price for this lot is €30,000 ($35,000). The final price is estimated to fall between €60,000 and €70,000, which is around $70,000-81,000.

Zeiss Ikon Contax Rifle 543/75. Image courtesy of Leitz Photographica Auction.

If one’s interests include both photography and space, the Salyut 1W Space Camera will prove to be an interesting lot. The Salyut 1W was one of the first Soviet space cameras and was specially developed for the Soyuz 4 space mission in January 1969. The mission included the first manual docking mission with the Soyuz-5 spacecraft. Cosmonauts had to go into space and use handrails to travel from the Soyuz 4 to the Soyuz-5. The mission commander and lone member of Soyuz 4 was Vladimir Shatalov, who passed away earlier this year. He arrived at the spacecraft and then brought cosmonauts Aleksei Yeliseyev and Yevgeny Krunov back to Earth. Shatalov was awarded the Order of Lenin in the Soviet Union for his mission.

Salyut 1W Space Camera. Image courtesy of Leitz Photographica Auction.

The crew used a Salyut 1W camera to document the mission. The camera includes a special handle and viewfinder, plus large controls to allow operation with spacesuit gloves. The unit for auction is in good condition and includes a modified Industar-29 80mm F2.8 lens, special viewfinder, two film magazines and a matching handle. A similar camera is on permanent display in the Yuri Gagarin Museum. The price will start at €20,000 ($23,000), and the auctioneers expect a final price up to €50,000 ($58,000).

If you’d like to see other items that will be up for auction at the 39th Leitz Auction on November 20, click here. You can also browse a catalog that includes additional items with lots of photos and information.