Voigtländer Daguerreotype camera, 1840

World's first daguerreotype camera at the 37th Leitz Auction — 21 Nov 2020

Voigtländer Daguerreotype Camera 1840 Serial No.: 344

The Voigtländer Daguerreotype camera was created by Peter Wilhelm Friedrich Ritter von Voigtländer (1812-1878) in 1840. It is historically important for its introduction of the fast ƒ:3,7 Petzval lens — developed by the German-Hungarian mathematics professor Josef Maximilian Petzval — it was 15 times faster than the lenses Louis Daguerre used in his constructions. The “cannon-shaped” camera is one of the most sophisticated and recognizable constructions from the early days of photography.

The focusing screen is positioned in the widest part of the camera, and there is a optical magnifier in the shorter of the two cones to aid focusing. Once the picture was sharp, the photographer had to go into the darkroom and swap the focusing screen for a daguerreotype plate.

This particular camera will be offered at the 37th Leitz Auction on 21 November 2020, with € 100.000 starting bid and an estimate of € 200.000—300.000.

The offered example is in fine, original condition and it has never been restored. The lens is a matching Petzval-type construction.

Reportedly 600 of these cameras have been sold until 1842, only about ten are known to exist nowadays. This is the first time a camera of this type is offered in a public auction. It is of the most important cameras in the history of photography!

Photo credit: © Leitz Photographica Auction