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Leica 16 design prototype (Pic: Leitz Photographica)
The Leica 16 was one of several Leica projects undertaken in the late 1950s (All pics: Leitz Photographica)

A prototype for a 16mm miniature Leica camera designed in the late 1950s is selling at auction in the summer.

The small 16mm camera – known as the Leica 16 – was one of a number of design projects undertaken by Leitz in the 1950s which never made it beyond the drawing board.

The design studies and prototype of this never-realised camera will be sold at the Leitz Auction in Wetzlar, Germany on 11 June.

The Leica 16 lots is expected to sell for between €100,000 (£83,600/$108,700) and €150,000 (£125,380/$163,000).

A preview on the Leitz Auction site reads: “After the commercial success of the Leica M3, Leitz pushed research and development of other types of cameras.

“One of the projects was a high quality ultra-compact camera for 16mm film. Numerous prototypes and design studies were produced in 1959. Although the project was at an advanced stage, research on it was halted and development halted once a complete camera had been manufactured.

“The lot offered here is an amazing collection of artefacts related to the mystical Leica 16. It includes two dummies (both already equipped with high quality viewfinders), three different forms of chassis, two aluminium bodies, two cover plates, two shutter prototypes, an interesting model of a retractable one Optics including glasses, etc.

“Also included in the lot are a large folder with a collection of original blueprints and parts lists for the Leica 16, three beautiful, hand-drawn large format parchment blueprints, as well as several hand drawings from the early stages of development.

“Many parts of this amazing historical outfit were shown and described in detail in “Vidom 122” on pages 16-39 (copy included in the lot). It is one of the most exciting discoveries in Leica history.”

The Leica 16 is one of a number of historical Leica lots included in the sale, including a 0-series camera once owned and used by Leica inventor Oskar Barnack. The camera is expected to fetch at least €3m (£2.53m/$3.3m)

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Stephen Dowling
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