Home Cameras/Lenses Leica The Last M3: From £27k to £446k in 18 months. Bargain.

The Last M3: From £27k to £446k in 18 months. Bargain.

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In September 2016 we reported on the successful auction of the late Robert White’s various collections, from motorbikes to cameras to rate watches to Lalique glass. Robert ran a successful photographic wholesaling business in Poole, Dorset. The company is now trading as Flaghead UK and importing, among many other brands, Voigtländer lenses.

One neglected item, a humble M3 in good condition and boxed, turned into something of a star. Someone had noticed that the number om the camera meant it was the last M3 listed as having been made. A bidding war took place between to eager beavers who had worked out the facts and, eventually, the camera sold to a Canadian for £27,500. 

Bargain

Fast forward 18 months and the same camera has popped up on eBay, keen to find a new owner. The surprise is the asking price — a cool £446,000. Whether or not it has changed hands in the interim I have no idea.

Auction

I don’t know what to make of this. It has certainly caused a stir in the Leica fraternity. My gut feeling is that eBay is the last place to try to sell this camera, especially at such an inflated price. Remember the recent Amelia Earhart episode? It belongs back in an auction house. I Know M3 prices are rising steadily, but this is pretty ridiculous, I feel. I’ve added it to my watchlist and will see what happens. I won’t be pressing the Buy It Now button, however, because I don’t have enough in my PayPal account.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. A friend of mine dealt with Mr March, the original acquirer of this camera, about 50 years ago in the context of back issues of LFI magazine. You rightly infer that this eBay listing has caused no little lifting of eyebrows in the Leica collector community. Part of the difficulty for the seller here is that the market for last /late items is not the nearly as well developed as that for first/early items. The latter have special listings on Collectiblend (the website that gives historic auction result averages for various camera models) for the M3 showing the very first M3 and very early models with and without corners. There is no similar listing for last/latest models. To add fuel to the fire someone has pointed out that there are some German Government issue M3s in olive green with higher serial numbers. So this may be only the last regular production M3.

    The seller here is a well established online outfit. Nobody has cast any doubt about the documentation which has been produced. The question is whether this will sell on eBay at the asking price. Offers may be made, but it is not clear what the seller might accept. With a normal auction, such as Westlicht, there would be a clearly indicated ‘start price’ which would, in effect, be the reserve price. At anything beyond that price the item will sell, unless there is a higher bid. One might ask why this is being sold on eBay when such a high price is being sought. The main auctions usually ‘introduce’ high value items to well known collectors in the same way that the likes of Sothebys and Christies do with art works. Perhaps the eBay listing in this case is intended to raise the profile of the item.

    Time will tell how the market values this item and also how it will be sold. Yes, you can get much cheaper M3s, but this one is not likely to be used for ‘street photography’.

    William

    • To add some context to my comments above, the very first production M3 SN 700001, sold for $1,228,500 at Westlicht in 2012.

      William

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