A Nikon 1 camera sold at auction in Austria this month has become the most expensive Nikon ever, achieving a sale price of €384,000 (approx $406,000) – double the expected maximum estimate. The camera, which is said to be only the third Nikon body ever made, is the earliest known surviving Nikon camera having been made in occupied Japan in April 1948. It was matched with the 11th 5cm F2 Nikkor H lens ever made.

Originally this rangefinder camera was known simply as the Nikon, but in later years it took on the name Nikon 1 as additional cameras, such as the M and S, were produced. Only available in Japan at first, Nikon came to the attention of the rest of the world when Life photographer David Douglas Duncan came across Nikkor lenses while covering the Korean war and spread the word among other press photographers.

The Nikon 1 camera is similar in design to the German Contax but used a 24x32mm film frame. This ultimately meant that it wasn’t taken up beyond Japan, and America wouldn’t allow the company to export to US because the film frames didn’t fit Kodak slide mounts. As a consequence the Nikon M was introduced in late 1949, which created standard 24x36mm frames. Japan finally got its way though, as many of us now use Micro Four Thirds and 6x4.5cm sensors with the same 3:4 ratio as that original 24x32mm film frame.

E. Leitz New York Leica Gun RITEL *

Second version of the famous RIFLE for the 40cm Telyt in 100% original, very fine and perfect working condition. Special viewfinder engraved 'E.LEITZ INC. NEW-YORK PATENT PENDING', modified PLOOT mirror housing no. 2486, special extended bottom plate, special leather belt, modified Leica IIIa no.235568, Telyt 5/40cm no.492069 with hood and cap, complete with extremely rare carrying case NUFIR. This is the only set in this combination we know to exist !
Leica M3 black paint 'Herbert List'

Extremely rare and fully original double-stroke black paint M3 with black film counter and all early features of these un-official pre-series black cameras, the camera was delivered on March 15th, 1958 to Tiranty, Paris (code "Igemo" for black paint M3), with rigid Summicron 5cm no.1510883 (IROOA hood) - only about 90 of these pre-series cameras were produced, much less are known to exist. Camera and lens were owned and used for many years by the famous German photographer Herbert List (1903 – 1975) who worked for magazines, including Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Life, and was associated with Magnum Photos.

The sale took place at the WestLicht Photographica auction along with a collection of 685 other lots of cameras, lenses, accessories and prints, including two Leitz New York Leica Gun rifles which sold for €168,000 each and a Leica M3 in black paint that belonged to Magnum photographer Herbert List – which reached €78,000.

For more information on the Nikon 1 auction and the other items visit the WestLicht

Auction notes

Nikon One

The earliest known surviving production Nikon in the world! Nikon started in March 1948 to assemble cameras (with serial number 60922). The offered camera is one of two cameras made in April 1948 and the 3rd of all Nikon production cameras. It comes with the original early Nikkor-H 2/5cm no.70811 (this is the 11th lens made, with matching Nikon cap) and is still in fantastic original condition. As all very early cameras it has the "8" screw front plate and sharp corner edges on top plate. The camera has still the original shutter. The interior shows the single pair of guide rails, with removable take-up spool. The baseplate with large 'MADE IN OCCUPIED JAPAN' engraving. It comes with the original and extremely rare double strap everready case. Published in: 'The Complete Nikon rangefinder System' by Robert R. Rotoloni (ps 51-59), 'Nikon 100 Anniversary' by Uli Koch (p 68) - provenience: collection of the famous Japanese collector Tad Sato.
World records at WestLicht Anniversary Auctions

Post sale report

384,000 Euro for the earliest Nikon camera

A Nikon One climbed from 90,000 to 384,000 Euro, the highest price ever paid for a camera from the long-standing Japanese manufacturer at an auction. The world record was achieved at the 30th Camera Auction in WestLicht’s 15th year. The record lot is the earliest known surviving example of a Nikon camera in the world, manufactured in April 1948 as the third ever serially produced camera by Nikon. This was also an early birthday present for Nikon company, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2017.