A highly rare vintage Leica camera is heading to auction in Vienna this March, where it could be set to rewrite the record books.
The highly rare Leica 0-Series camera dates from 1923, and is one of just 25 prototype examples ever produced.
Today just 12 of those are known to have survived, and the camera up for auction – No.122 – is one of only three examples to retain its original folding viewfinder.
Described as "probably the most original and best condition" Leica-0 in existence, the camera comes with a pre-sale estimate of €700,000 – €900,000 ($859,000 – $1.1m).
However, given its extreme rarity and remarkable condition, the camera looks likely to fetch a much higher price – perhaps even one that makes history.
The current record price for a vintage camera was set back in May 2012, when another Leica 0-Series sold at the same auction house for $2.8 million.
At the time of that sale, a spokesperson for WestLicht Photographica Auction commented:
"Until quite recently it would have been unthinkable that a camera could fetch a price in excess of one million euros. In recent years there has been an enormous increase in the price of such rarities."
Almost eight years on, and that record remains intact – but maybe not for much longer.
The world’s first 35mm camera was developed by German photographer and inventor Oskar Barnack, who designed it for hikers and landscape photographers.
In 1923 he convinced his boss Ernst Leitz II to build a small number of prototypes, to be sent for testing by professional photographers around the world.
They called the camera ‘Leica’, combining the first three letters of Leitz’s name with the first two of ‘camera’, and it proved an instant hit.
In 1925 the camera went into full production as the Leica-1, and today the German company remains one of the world’s leading brands for both serious photographers and collectors alike.
The sale takes place at WestLicht Photographica Auction in Vienna, Austria on March 10.