Live Auction

Tue 9th Aug 2022

Time: 06:00pm

While it is sad when an Australian institution closes, in the case of this fabulous assemblage, it means that collectors and museums all over the world will be able to add a rare piece of history to their own collections. Truly, a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Most Melbourne residents or visitors to the CBD would be familiar with Michaels Cameras. The Michaels family has conducted business on the corner of Elizabeth & Lonsdale Streets in downtown Melbourne since 1916. My great-grandfather Emanuel, started business there as a pawn broker and gunsmith in those distant early years. My grandfather, Harold, evolved the business into a chemist which also sold photographic equipment. In 1976, my father Alan took the bold decision to remove the chemist which had been there for 50 years and focus on the camera business. The camera and film processing part of the business eventually became the predominant activity, and it is that business that became a destination for photographers, professional and amateur, for more than nine decades.

In the late 1970’s, nearly 50 years ago, my father, Alan, and my brother, Tony, realised that Michaels was taking as trade-ins, many unusual and interesting cameras that people wanted to exchange for newer or more sophisticated photographic equipment. Although delighted to facilitate the growth of the business in this way, it quickly became clear to them that their cupboards and shelves were becoming a repository of photographic history, a history which was not being adequately preserved in Australia, a challenge they were uniquely in a position to address. Alan and Tony made the conscious decision to conserve, display and actively expand the evolving collection, which meant not just relying on trade-ins, but also attending auctions, swap meets and buying from private collections that offered unique or unusual additions to what they had already accumulated. The evolution of photography as reflected in these little masterpieces of design and construction was their inspiration and, within a few years, the collection had increased to the point where housing it and displaying it became a real challenge.

At around this time an architect and die-hard Leica collector approached my father, as he wanted to sell his extensive Leica collection. My father bought the collection which became the foundation of the world class Leica collection you will find in the following pages of this catalogue. The collection continued to grow and eventually we had more than 3,000 items on display in a superb museum space created for the purpose. A visit was always free, and over the years we hosted many thousands of enthusiasts who visited from interstate and overseas, as well as many members of local historical societies and museum curators.

The quality of the cameras and other equipment that went on display was always the best example of an item we could find. Over the years of trading in these collectable cameras, whenever one came in that we already had in the museum, we would compare them, keep the better example, and dispose of the other. At its’ peak, a few years ago, the museum became the largest private camera museum in the world. There are no duplicates in the collection, every camera has its’ differences. Sometimes these differences are very small, for example, one may have a distance scale in metres and the other in feet.

Having decided to cease trading, we have been assisted and directed in the decisions to do with the collection, by Charles Leski and his staff. There is no doubt that the content of the museum is the most important legacy of Michaels, so the planned series of auction catalogues will provide a permanent record of all the items in the collection at the time we closed. I am delighted to see so many beautiful cameras – including some of my personal favourites – presented in this first auction.

Together with the rest of my family, I thank you for your interest in our collection and I hope you are able to acquire something that gives you as much pleasure as it has given us.

Peter Michael

Featured Lots

Lot 42

LEITZ: Leica I Model B [#6074] with Compur dial set shutter [#348156]; with square base accessory shoe with Elmar f3.5 50mm lens. Total production was 638 units.

Est: $12,000 - $15,000
Price Realised including BP: $11,950

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Lot 74

LEITZ: Leica 250 Reporter (GG) 35mm Rangefinder camera [#150164 series], 1943, with Summar f2 50mm lens [#335133], with both film magazines and shutter speed to 1000.

Est: $15,000 - $25,000
Price Realised including BP: $11,950

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LEITZ: Leica IIIc K Military Model [#390074 K], 1943, with f 50mm Summitar Lens [#658715] and original metal lens cap

Est: $3,500 - $4,500
Price Realised including BP: $7,468.50

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LEITZ Canada: Leica Model KE-7A Still Picture Black [#1294914], 1972, with Elcan f2 50mm lens [#276-0480]. The Leica KE-7A was manufactured in Canada for US Army in the 1970s and this M4 special model can withstand temperatures down to -20 degrees with dust sealed. Only 505 units were produced and 460 were acquired by the US military, identifiable as Army issue due to engravings and the rest were sold to the civilian market.

Est: $10,000 - $15,000
Price Realiised including BP: $45,410

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Lot 112

Red Flag 20 (Hong Qi 20) Shanghai No.2 Camera Factory copy of the Leica M4 [#770191], circa 1973, with f4 50mm lens [#770066] copy of the Leitz Summilux lens, an f2 90mm Telephoto lens [#760045] copy of a Summicron lens and an f4 35mm lens [#77166] copy of a Summilux lens. Together with lens covers and shade with Red Flag markings.

Est: $60,000 - $80,000
Price Realised including BP: $95,600

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LEITZ Canada: Leica Model M4-2 Black [#1480547], 1978, with Summilux f1.4 35mm lens [#2290705] and a Leitz 12504 lens hood.

Est: $2,000 - $3,000
Price Realised including BP: $10,157.50

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LEITZ Canada: Leica Model M4-P camera [#1606428], 1983, with Summilux 35mm f1.4 lens [#2166829] and Leica Meter MR [#67111]. With original box.

Est: $2,000 - $2,500
Price Realised including BP: $11,352.50

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LEITZ: Leica M6 Limited Edition [#1757922], platinum and reptile skin, 1989, with engraved top plate commemorating the 150th anniversary of photography and the 75th anniversary of Leica, A122 of 1250. Fitted with Summilux-M f4 50mm lens [#3482400] and in original fitted satin lined timber case with certificate of authenticity, carry strap, lens hood and additional documentation in original box.

Est: $8,000 - $12,000
Price Realised including BP: $14,340

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LEITZ: Leica Model M6 Year of the Rooster 1993 [#1929147], #147 of 268 manufactured, fitted with silver finish Sumircron-M f2 50mm lens with matching serial number [#147/300]. The top of the camera body engraved with a golden rooster plus the phrase in Chinese "Leica-Good Luck". Leica lens shade 12538 and original felt lined wooden box engraved with rooster and good luck phrase in Chinese also included. Accompanied by original box, presentation case, documents and instructions.

Est: $5,000 - $7,500
Price Realised including BP: $9,560

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LEITZ: Leica M6 Commemorative "150 Jahre Optik" Platinum [#M6-1921], 1999, Summilux-M f1.4 50mm "150 Jahre Optik 1921" lens and cap. Only 150 units were produced to commemorate 150 years of the Wetzlar Optisches Institut. Original box, paperwork and caps included.

Est: $15,000 - $20,000
Price Realised including BP: $26,290

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