Leica MP black paint camera, 1957

Leica MP black paint camera, 1957
Leica MP black paint camera, 1957 — Photo credit: © WestLicht Photographica

The Leica MP is the only serial model which has an individual number, differing fundamentally from the usual fabrication numbers of all other Leica cameras. With a total number of only 412 units produced, the MP is among the rarest Leica models of all times. The black-paint version was produced only 141 times and acquired mainly by professional photographers. Many of the famous Magnum photographers used MP cameras. Today it is among the most sought-after Leicas of all.

Showcased is a black paint Leica MP in almost mint and original, never restored condition, with matching Leivavit MP and black paint Summicron 2/5 cm no.1468952, casting no. 111802, P 99 engraved on chassis, original everready case. With expertise by Ottmar Michaely. It is remarkable that camera and lens were both originally shipped together to New York on November 19, 1957 (shipping number 49851/61932).

The Leica MP is actually much more than a mere variation on the Leica M3. It is the only serial model which has an individual number, differing fundamentally from the usual fabrication numbers of all other Leica cameras. With a total number of only 412 units produced, the MP is among the rarest Leica models of all times. The black-paint version was produced only 141 times and acquired mainly by professional photographers. Many of the famous Magnum photographers used MP cameras. Today it is among the most sought-after Leicas of all.
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 Leica IIIf in combination with the rapidwinder “Leicavit” on their Leica M as well. It were mainly the suggestions 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.

At the Cologne “Photokina” fair from September 29 to October 7, 1956, the new Leica MP was first introduced to the public. It was actually a special edition of the M3, but meant to be used with the rapidwinder “Leicavit-MP”. The mere fact that the Leica MP was bought and used almost exclusively by photojournalists allows us to conclude that a second, black-paint MP in this pristine, original state would be practically impossible to find.

Provenance: Private collection USA.