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Leica I set (Pic: Leitz Photographica)
The camera is thought to have been given as a Christmas gift in 1924 (Pic: Leitz Photographica)

A Leica I camera once owned by the son of Leica founder Ernst Leitz is up for sale at auction in Austria next month.

The Leica I is thought to have been presented to Ernst Leitz II in December 1924, possibly as a Christmas present.

It is going under the hammer at the 38th Leitz Photographica Auction in Vienna, Austria on 12 June.

The camera has a starting price of €40,000 (£34,420/$48,850) and is expected to sell for between 80,000 and €100,000.

The camera is of particular interest to Leica collectors because Leitz Junior was in charge of the company when it brought the first Leica rangefinder camera into production.

Leitz Photographica says: “Extensive research in Leica archives revealed that exactly this Leica no.165 was delivered on 24.12.1924 to Ernst Leitz Junior. We can only speculate that it may have been a Christmas gift. A closer inspection of the page from the delivery book reveals that the initial date written on the top of the page ‘1924’ has been later changed to 1925.

“Camera no.165 is the only one from the batch delivered in December; all the others have been delivered in June or February. This may indicate that it was the first Leica I Mod. A delivered, at the end of 1924.

“Factory service records show that the camera was in the workshop on three occasions and was upgraded several times to the final form we can see now.” The camera comes with an Elmar 50/3.5 lens, an accessory Fodis rangefinder and a pair of film spools.

According to Leitz Photographica, the only other significant camera known to be given to Leitz Junior was the Leica 0-Series no.102.

Leitz Junnior, who died in 1956, helped smuggle hundreds of Jews out of Nazi Germany before the Holocaust in a resuce effort later dubbed the ‘Leica Freedom Train’.

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Stephen Dowling
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