A Leica Luxus II, gold plated and encased in lizard skin has surfaced and is scheduled to be auctioned later this month. The rare camera is the only surviving unit from the four special edition version made in 1932. The extremely rare piece was first discovered 12 years ago on the BBC’s Antiques Road show and is expected to fetch a record £1.7million. The whereabouts of the other three units from the special edition is unknown which makes this unit one of the rarest cameras in existence. And what adds value to it is that it is being sold with its original crocodile camera case. The camera bears the serial number 88840 and comes with a 50mm Elmar lens, which features a bell-push release.
Antique Experts Were Stunned to See the Camera
The Luxus II camera was gifted to a British enthusiast after World War II who used it extensively but later put it away. It was in 2001 that the owner took it to the Antiques Road Show to have its value assessed. Antiques Road show presenter Marc Allum looked at it in complete disbelief as he realized that it had the potential to be the most valuable find ever. Despite being an antiques expert he never expected to see a camera like that. The pre sales estimate has put the value of the camera at £800,000 but it is expected to fetch a seven figure sum as a Leica O series received a bid of almost £2million last year.
Leica Dominated the Market Because of Its Compact Size
Leica has been in the business of making cameras since 1913 when they were known as Ernst Leitz GmbH. They managed to dominate the camera manufacturing scene as they developed small and compact cameras when only large and unwieldy cameras were available at the time. Jon Baddely, camera specialist at auctioneers Bonhams pointed out that Leica cameras were not only modern in looks but always had cutting edge technology. Despite being compact and easy to handle, their cameras produced negatives that could be enlarged. Their cameras became hugely popular with photographers and the press. In fact they played a crucial role in the development of photojournalism during the 1930s. No doubt their antique cameras have dominated the auctions but this piece is extra special as the crocodile Leica case has come to light for the first time. Bonhams will be auctioning the camera on November 22 at Hong Kong.