Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Oskar One Zero Five sells for €14.4 million

Oskar One Zero Five sells for €14.4 million

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A Leica camera which was used by its inventor, Oskar Barnack, was sold on Saturday at the 40th Leica Photographica Auction for €14.4 million, including buyer’s premium. The 0-Series with the serial number 105 was one of around 25 models produced and personally used by Oskar Barnack. It had been expected to break world records and sell for €3m, but few could have anticipated a sale price over four times higher.

Our vintage Leica specialist, William Fagan, provided detailed background to this early Leica here on Macfilos on April 26:

In 1923 Leitz distributed somewhere between twenty and thirty cameras developed from the earlier prototypes (the UR-Leica and further developments), with various features, to factory personnel and trusted outside parties. These can truly be said to be the ‘pre-production Leicas’. The name Leica, an acronym of LEitz CAmera, did not exist then. In fact, the first appearance of the word “Leica” on an actual camera was on the II Model D, which was launched in 1932.

The No 105 camera was originally distributed to Henri Dumur, a senior manager and later company managing director. Dumur was related to the Leitz family. Barnack is listed as having initially received No 112, but there is evidence Barnack subsequently used No 105 according to available records and his own son, Conrad Barnack, who sold the camera to a US collector in 1960.

The record price is clear evidence that interest in vintage cameras is greater than ever before, according to Alexander Sedlak, managing director of Leica Camera Classics.



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10 COMMENTS

    • The winning bidder, or more likely the person bidding on their behalf, was on a phone. It did not go to a room bidder. In fact I did not see any room bids for this item. You must know that auction houses never disclose the names of winning bidders or sellers. To do so would ruin their business overnight.

      William

      • Guessed so, thanks. If I see someone with it making street photography, that’s it. Perhaps not good for the selling business but pretty interesting in my opinion, and why not good for the buyer maybe

  1. A quick correction/addendum to the above is that the earliest interchangeable lens Leicas were ‘created’ in Britain in the 1920s and not the 1930s as mistyped above. Leica started producing interchangeable lens Leicas in Germany in 1930.

    William

  2. I was there on Saturday morning, just to the left of the photographer who took the top photo. I had visited the preview room on Friday morning and examined the papers which went with this camera which included a typed marriage certificate copy for one ‘Wilhelm* Oscar (sic) Barnack’ in respect of his marriage in 1903. The argument on Oskar v Oscar has been raging on the Leica Forum for many weeks now, but the proof of the pudding was in the bidding. There is someone in the US who may have a copy of the handwritten certificate signed by Oskar/Oscar and my good friend Bill Rosauer is following up on that. For what its worth, I have also since seen the typed and handwritten version of Barnack’s birth certificate and both of those have a ‘K’.

    Nothwithstanding the stuff about name spelling, the perceived value here was in the camera type ( 0 Series having been fetching over 2mn in auction) and its provenance with Barnack, the creator of the camera. This is a significant historic artefact and just to call it ‘a camera’ is to do it a disservice. However, after the auction I spent a wonderful couple of hours with Ottmar Michaely who had most recently serviced the camera in advance of the auction. He confirmed that once he had fixed some issues with the focus mount and had done a general service he had put a roll of film in the camera and it had produced excellent images. Just a point to note as you don’t have to spend 14.4 million Euros to get camera which will take fine pictures.

    The bidding on the camera seemed to take for ever, but I looked at my watch after about item no 10 (this one was item No 5) and the auction was only 12 minutes old. I only bought one item which I bid on before the auction. It was a Leica with an early British Ross lens. I had previously bought one with a British made Dallmeyer lens. The earliest interchangeable lens Leicas were produced in Britain in the 1930s rather than in Germany (from 1930 onwards) and that is a story which I might tell here some day.

    I saw a lot of other things while I was in Wetzlar including blueprints for the earliest Leica models, the typed draft of a book by Conrad Barnack, the son of Oskar/ Oscar, which was done in the late 1940s. I also saw the delivery record for one of my own cameras which was engraved with the name of a Grafton Street, Dublin dealer in 1932.

    I also had lunch with Stefan Daniel about LHSA liaison within Europe and Dr Kaufmann was purring after the auction. He even held the lift for me!

    William

    From now on it is Willi or Billy Barnack for me!

    • William, it looks like Stefan Daniel in the second row. Amazing how we didn’t pay much attention to 105 when we were in the Archiv last November. It was sitting there kind of naked on the Archiv side of the window!
      I am geeting some very interesting insight from Oscar Fricke on 105!

      • Stefan bought a IIIf at the auction because he liked the red velvet box which came with it!. We had a great and productive (for LHSA) lunch with him and Andrea Pacella, the Global Head of Marketing and Communications for Leica, who is to Stefan’s right in this photo. In front of them is Hollywood star Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones, Aquaman etc) who was introduced to me the day before as a man who shares my interest in old brass lenses. I spoke to him about that, but I have to admit I had never heard of him before. I had to rely on my two daughters and my grandson to tell me about him, but he does seem to have a nice nerdy side and he bought several items at the auction. He was there doing a film on the event with Kiran from Leica USA.

        Also there doing a film were Chris and Jordan from DPReview and we had a great dinner with them later that night along with Andy Westlake from Amateur Photographer magazine.

        I went through the papers on No 105, but they related more to Mr Forsyth and the Barnack League (that name has a real ring of the 1930s) than to the camera itself. I learnt a lot more about the camera talking to Ottmar Michaely, the engineer who had worked on No 105, for a couple of hours after the auction. I look forward to hearing what additional light Oscar Fricke can shed on the subject of this legendary camera and it its legendary user. At least, Bill, we can now both say that we both share a name with Mr Barnack. Ottmar had the original handwritten (in old German) version of Barnack’s birth cert on his phone.

        Getting to see and handle the blueprints for the 0 Series and the Model I was also exciting for me. They were based on original drawings signed by Barnack himself. As an engineer Ottmar considered them to be more exciting than 105 itself. They sold for a mere €48,000.

        William

        • William, my entire family knows Stefan, but my sons are more impressed with Jason Momoa! We’ll have to work on getting him in the fold. Jim Lager met Sir David Suchet at the Leica Historical meeting and had no idea who he was. When I said Hercule Poirot he nearly dropped the phone!
          I have yet to see Barnack’s birth certificate. I’ll ask Ottmar to send me a copy!

          • I asked Jason if he had ever been to Dublin and he said he had while making Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland. He told me he will be filming in Hawaii when our Dublin AGM takes place next October.

            Mike and I have known Sir David Suchet for some years and I mentioned the Dublin event to him when I met him at the UK Society event in Buxton in April. He wasn’t sure about his availability, but I will reach out to him again before the October meeting.

            There is a photo of myself, Mike and Jim in the UK magazine which is captioned ‘ Fagan, Evans and Lager discuss cameras’.

            William

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