Live Auction

Tue 26th Mar 2024

Time: 10:00am

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 series of auctions.

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 82

CANON: Circa 1937 HANSA rangefinder camera [#1082] with Nikkor 50mm f3.5 collapsible lens [#50712], metal lens cap, and original Canon HANSA ERC with straps. Featuring pop-up viewfinder, base plate with number 2743, and 'HANSA' engraving on top plate.

Est: $7,000 - $10,000
Price Realised including BP: $7,767.50

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Lot 83

CANON: NS rangefinder camera [#10880], c. 1941, with Nikkor 50mm f3.5 lens [#501380] in shutter #1917. Featuring pop-up rangefinder and 'Canon Seiki-Kogaku' engraving on top plate. With Canon ERC with straps. [NB: While the vulcanite body covering has deteriorated (see photos), the camera and lens are otherwise in VG+ condition.]

Est: $5,000 - $7,500
Price Realised including BP: $3,585

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Lot 156

FRANKE & HEIDECKE: Type 4 Rolleiflex 3.5F TLR camera [#2830788], c. 1967, with Carl Zeiss Planar 75mm f3.5 lens [#4773815] and Synchro-Compur shutter.

Est: 1,000 - $1,500
Price Realised including BP: $2,031.50

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Lot 157

FRANKE & HEIDECKE: 1979 Rollei 35S 35mm compact camera. Special edition gold-plated for the 60th anniversary of the Rollei company [#0036/1500]. In addition to being plated in 24-carat gold, the body is covered in lizard skin, bearing a uniquely numbered plate on the back. Together with the original presentation timber box, leather pouch, instruction booklet, and warranty card.

Est: $1,200 - $1,800
Price Realised including BP: $1,912

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Lot 232

KODAK: Circa 1941 Kodak Ektra rangefinder camera [#1065], with Ektar 50mm f1.9 lens. One of only approximately 2500 to be produced.

Est: $1,500 - $2,000
Price Realised including BP: $1,553.50

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Lot 274

LEITZ: Circa 1929 Leica I Model B [#13297] with rim-set Compur shutter [#2008474], Elmar 50mm f3.5 lens, and round-base accessory shoe. This is the 143rd camera in a total production run of just 1072 units.

Est: $6,000 - $8,000
Price Realised including BP: $7,767.50

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Lot 275

LEITZ: Leica CL rangefinder camera [#1311705], c. 1973, with Summicron-C 40mm f2 lens [#2591496] and rubber lens hood.

Est: $800 - $1,200
Price Realised including BP: $1,553.50

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Lot 278

LEITZ: Black Leica M6 camera body cutaway model [#191668], c. 1988.

Est: $3,000 - $4,000
Price Realised including BP: $3,824

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Lot 317

LEITZ: Ur-Leica replica [#73] of Oscar Barnack's original 1913 prototype, c. 1970s, in superb condition with collapsible lens. Featuring 'Nachbildung der Ur-Leica' and 'E. Leitz Wetzlar' body engravings.

Est: $1,000 - $1,500
Price Realised including BP: $3,824

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Lot 359

MINOLTA: Gold-edition Minolta CLE rangefinder camera [#2000400] with brown lizardskin covering, c. 1981, with M-Rokkor 40mm f2 lens [#2120649] and lens cap.

Est: $2,000 - $3,000
Price Realised including BP: $3,107

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