Leica Camera, renowned for its precision optics and iconic cameras, has once again made headlines in the world of photography. Recently, one of Leica’s 250 GG “Reporter” cameras, equipped with the groundbreaking “Leica-Motor MOOEV,” achieved a staggering price at auction, coming close to crossing the million-dollar mark. On June 10, 2023, this historic model set a new world record auction price by selling for €900,000 (US$967,410).
The Leica Reporter, introduced in 1936, was the first 35mm camera to feature a remarkable 1/1,000 second shutter speed. This revolutionary camera paved the way for advancements such as a larger film housing and the introduction of a motor drive unit. The resulting “GG” model, fitted with a 250-frame cassette housing and the MOOEV electric motor drive, became an invaluable technological asset for the Luftwaffe during World War II. These cameras were utilized for aerial surveillance and assessing bombing effectiveness, particularly in the Junkers Ju 87 “Stuka” dive bombers.
The Stuka, recognized by its distinctive trumpet-like sound and inverted gull wings, struck fear into the hearts of both combatants and civilians during World War II. However, despite its accuracy in delivering targeted bombs, the Stuka proved to be outmatched by Allied aircraft like the Supermarine Spitfire, P-51 Mustang, and Hawker Hurricane once the war progressed. Due to its limited aerodynamic capabilities and sluggishness in air-to-air combat, only 16 of the 92 Stukas equipped with the GG model cameras survived the war.
Leica Camera Classics, a subsidiary of Leica Camera, hosts the Leitz Photographica Auction biannually at Vienna’s Hotel Bristol. Over the years, this event has evolved into the world’s largest vintage camera auction, elevating historical cameras to the status of highly sought-after collectibles. The auctions have continuously set records, attracting top camera collectors and investors from around the globe. This year’s auction featured remarkable sales, including the Leica 250 GG Reporter with the MOOEV Leica-Motor, which fetched €900,000, and the Leica M3 black paint “First Batch black dial,” sold for €540,000 (US$580,446).
These auctions not only focus on Leica cameras but also include other significant cameras from different eras. Notable examples include the Giroux Daguerréotype from 1839, which sold for €732,000 (US$897,578) in 2010, and the Susse Freres Daguerréotype, which fetched €576,000 (US$774,893) in 2007.
The Leitz Photographica Auction has become a reference point for the market value of historical cameras, reflecting the growing appreciation for technical excellence and the investment potential in the world of vintage photography. Camera enthusiasts and collectors eagerly await the next auction scheduled to take place in Vienna on November 24-25, 2023, where more extraordinary sales are expected to occur.