Leica MP (Pic: Leitz Photographica)
The camera was one of only 141 of the black-paint versions made (Pic: Leitz Photographica)

A black paint Leica MP rangefinder, one of only 141 built by Leitz in the 1950s, sold at auction for €1.2m (£1.01m/$1.36m) in Austria on Saturday (20 November).

The camera, the 55th example of the rare Leica M3 variant, had been expected to sell for between €300,000 and €350,000 at the Leitz Photographica Auction No 39 in Vienna.

The camera camera complete with a Leicavit trigger, a trigger wind which was originally behind the decision to make the camera. Only 412 Leica MPs were made in the 1950s.

“Today it is among the most sought-after Leicas of all,” Leitz Photographica said in their listing of the camera. “The idea which led to the production of the MP model came from several well-known American press photographers, who wanted to make use of the advantages of the Leicavit (available at that time for IIIf only) on their Leica M cameras as well.

“It was mainly the suggestion of Alfred Eisenstaedt and David Douglas Duncan which aroused the interest of Dr Ludwig Leitz, who was the director of the development and construction department in 1955.”

The camera was described as having only minimal signs of use and had originally been exported to London in July 1957.

“The Leica MP is one of the most important Leica cameras made and probably the one that started the trend of black paint M cameras being used by professionals and loved by collectors nowadays.”

The sale was the standout in the latest Leitz auction, which also saw a first-batch Leica M3 from 1959 sells for €264,000 (£222,460/$296,200) and a Leica IIIb built for the German Navy in the 1930s selling for €132,000 (£111,220/$148,100), described by the auctioneers as” one of the best military Leica outfits we have seen”.

A Soviet Salyut medium camera built for the Soyuz space programme, previously featured on Kosmo Foto, fetched €60,000 (£50,550/$67,300)

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Stephen Dowling
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