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Leica cameras of the 20th Century: A video presentation from noted expert, William Fagan

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William Fagan’s presentation to LHSA members on collecting old Leicas was very well received by all accounts. I learned quite a few new things from William’s encyclopaedic knowledge of Leica cameras from the Model I through to the M6. It’s vast subject but the presentation manages to cover most of the highlights of the progress from the original Barnack Leica to the modern film camera.

These three 1930s Leicas are some of the nicest looking cameras ever produced, even prettier than the much sought-after black-paint Ms from the 1950s and 1960s. Part of William's extensive collection, they are (from left to right) a 1932 II Model D with nickel Hektor, 1932 II Model D with nickel Elmar and 1935 III Model F with nickel Summar.
These three 1930s Leicas are some of the nicest looking cameras ever produced, even prettier than the much sought-after black-paint Ms from the 1950s and 1960s. Part of William’s extensive collection, they are (from left to right) a 1932 II Model D with nickel Hektor, 1932 II Model D with nickel Elmar and 1935 III Model F with nickel Summar.

We now have permission to reproduce the presentation and I hope Macfilos readers will find it as useful as I did.

The LHSA – the International Leica Society – is a wonderful source of information, camaraderie and opportunity for all Leica fans. There are many benefits of membership, including exclusive presentations and the opportunity to attend the annual gathering which takes place in different parts of the world. The next event, however, will take place in 2022 in Dublin because of the delays caused by the pandemic.

We have managed to arrange a special Macfilos LHSA membership offer which offers an extended digital first-year of 15 months for the price of only $60. Join if you can and support this organisation which does so much for the world of Leica.

Find full details of the Macfilos LHSA offer here.

You can also win a Leica M10-R body in the LHSA sweepstake, with the book, “Oskar Barnack: From the Idea to the Leica” as a second prize, worth %60.

Find how to enter here.

Read more articles by William Fagan

19 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Mike M. In preparing this presentation a lot of material had to be left out as we were tight on time and I had to cover lenses and accessories as well as some usage tips. The only model without a built on Viewfinder shown was a Ic to which I had added a 50mm SBOOI viewfinder. There may be scope for further more in depth presentations as a lot had to be left out to get from the beginning in 1925 up to about the 1980s.

    William

  2. Thank you William for this concise and personal walk down the line. Very well planned and presented. Books are good, but your presentation provides an extra dimension through your passion for the subject. Enjoyed it.
    Is there any particular item(s) that you still especially hope to find as you monitor the auctions or reputable dealers?

    And thanks to you and Michael for arranging to get this post on Macfilos.

    • Thanks to Jean and Wayne for your kind words. I will be watching but not bidding on the very first Leica IIId which is coming up for auction at the Wetzlar Camera Auction on 10th October. I was involved with the discovery of this item and directed the owner towards Lars Netopil who I know well. I could keep collecting Leica for the rest of my life, but, of late, Ernst Leitz lenses on cameras made by other manufacturers in the 1930s have caught my attention.

      William

  3. William — thanks so much for that presentation — it was just wonderful to see the array again and to hear your preferences. I’m pleased you mentioned Stan Tamarkin – he was a good friend of my father-in-law who was a passionate photographer – an inveterate international sociologist who left an extraordinary collection of international images of developing nations from the ’50s on – all with his Leicas. Stan gave him an exhibition in his NY gallery before he retired. Stan also supplied my first Leica M6 with its Summicron 35/2 attached. Since then I have bought many of my cameras from the Chicago store and his son Dan. You also made me nostalgic for my visits to Ireland – which I promise to start again as soon as we can safely travel best wishes, Tony

    • Thanks Tony. You will, of course, be most welcome in Ireland as soon as the coast is clear on the travel front. I met Stan Tamarkin in Chester, of all places, at a meeting of the UK Leica Society. I had dealt with Stan before at a distance as an auctioneer, but I found him to have a refreshing mind with an interest in all sorts of things beyond the world of Leica. His son Dan is in the same mould and I have met him at LHSA meetings and I have visited him in Chicago at his store. Dan and I went with a group of fellow enthusiasts to visit the graves of Oskar Barnack and Max Berek in Wetzlar and we watched as George Furst, now living in Korea, hung his working, self designed and made in Korea, Ur Leica replica over the grave of Oskar. Leica fandom could easily become a religion if we are not careful, but it is always wonderful to meet up with fellow enthusiasts who have the same interests.

      William

  4. Thanks Dave and John for your kind comments. I have just finished doing an article for Macfilos on the mystery 70 year old roll of film mentioned at the end of my presentation. I will be asking Macfilosophers (we will have to ask Mike to rule on the best word) to cast their forensic eyes over it to help solve a 70 year old mystery. The article will go to Mike tomorrow. I always believe in subjecting any piece of writing to the ‘shaving mirror test’ before sending it to the editor.

    William

    • Good to hear, William. I think we’ve standardised on Macfilosians. But Macfilosophers sounds good (except for consistency perhaps Macfilosofers…) In reality, we’re a pretty knowledgeable group when it comes to Leicas.

      • Accepted – and Seconded for William,

        Macfilosians it is.

        I would struggle with Macfilosofers, as it suggests we come from DFS.. which naturally none of us have possibly ever visited.

        Dave

  5. When are you moving to Hollywood to get your OSCAR, LHSA IS GREAT GROUP. Thank you for your labor of love. Got to love Macfilos..

  6. Good evening William,

    I watched the entirety of that this evening after work, and all I can say is what a legend. Excellent presentation, I learnt more in this than I have from reading about Leica film cameras. You dealt with those questions in a very relaxed and affable manner, but with an eye for the detail and such a wondrous style. Thank you.

    – Also a thank you for Mike, for finding a way to allow us Macfilosies (is that a thing), to see this.

    Keep safe folks,

    Dave

    • Good to hear that, Brian. I expect to be joining the Board of LHSA in October and we can discuss more activities for members outside of the US here and on the Leica Forum. Actual meet ups are difficult in Covid times, but the Zoom option has proved to be very useful this Summer.

      William

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