Leica IIIc prototype camera, 1934

Leica IIIc prototype camera, 1934
Leica IIIc prototype camera, 1934 — Photo credit: © WestLicht Photographica

The Leica IIIc in its glory days was a new design with die-cast aluminum shutter cage – a technical detail which is still to be found in the present analog models of the Leica M-system. First trials for such a camera date back to 1933.

The earliest known completely finished Leica IIIc prototype camera carries the serial number 335006. The camera here with number 290000 was discovered only recently, which can be considered a sensational find.

Technically, it is identical with no. 335006 to a great extent – concerning the shutter-crate and -mechanism. Also in design of the top plate with the typical round-shaped step under the rewind – a detail which was changed with the first serial camera of a IIIc.

Moreover, the camera shows a number of other differences, such as slow-speed aluminum dial without engravings, as well as top plate without engravings for “R/A“ and diopter control.

A historically important piece and most probably the earliest complete Leica IIIc prototype camera.

Literature: Wilhelm Albert (ed.), Die Geburtstage der Leitz Fotokonstruktionen seit 1927, (Leica Historica e.V., 1995), p. 41, 47; James L. Lager (ed.), Leica Illustrated History, Vol. I, Oregon 1993, p. 114/115; Lars Netopil, Prototype Leica, Germany 2010, p. 225-239.