Mercury IIA camera (Pic: John Krantz/Wikimedia Commons)
The Mercury II camera was used to take candid pictures of Monroe when she lived in New York (Pic: John Krantz/Wikimedia Commons)

A camera once used by one of Marilyn Monroe’s teenage confidantes to take candid pictures of her in the 1950s is being auctioned in the US.

The US-made Mercury II camera was owned by Frieda Hull, who was one of the “Monroe Six”, a sextet of New York teenagers who befriended the Hollywood stars. Hull died in 2014.

The camera, a half-frame 35mm camera made in the US after 1945, comes complete with “an external flash, a reflector, an unrelated lens hood, and a telephoto lens accessory; housed in its original brown leather case” says the listing on Julien’s Auctions. The auction ends on 3 December.

The Mercury II was a popular US-made half frame camera with a rotary dial and a distinctive circular protrusion on top of the camera – actually part of the shutter mechanism, which allowed it to reach shutter speeds of up to 1/1500.

The camera had a starting price of $150 and is expected to fetch between $700 and $900. It can be seen in the image above, held by Hull. (All images courtesy Julien’s Auctions)

The camera was used by Hull to take candid images of Monroe in the early to mid 1950s when she was based in New York. The Monroe Six were such ardent fans that the Hollywood star got to know them all by their first names and would pose for them when she saw them.

In 2016, one of the group, James Collins, sold a collection of 183 images of Monroe he shot during the period for $66,000. One of the images, which had been signed by Monroe, sold for $7,500.

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Stephen Dowling
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