A working-condition Leica camera that may have belonged to Amelia Earhart—the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic and an iconic historical figure—has popped up for auction on eBay.

The Leica l Model A, dating from between 1926 and 1927, is set at a 'Buy it Now' price of £50,000/$69,490, and comes with a card signed by Earhart herself; unfortunately, this is the only proof we have that the camera really did belong to her. The seller acknowledges that the connection is a little tenuous, but claims the camera was given to his grandfather by Earhart in 1933 when she decided that she preferred a more user-friendly Kodak folder.

Earhart became famous for her pioneering flying and the records that she broke during her career, receiving the US Distinguished Flying Cross for her solo Atlantic flight. In 1937, she went missing during an attempt to fly around the world, and is presumed to have crashed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean (although the uncertainty surrounding her death has led to numerous theories that she didn’t crash at all).

Photo: eBay Auction

The camera, which is said to be in good condition, has a non-interchangeable Leitz Elmar 50mm F3.5 lens and comes with the tall vertical rangefinder paired with the camera at the time, but which was available before the camera was made. The seller is also including a pair of metal film cassettes, and a ‘rare’ Leica purse to hold the lens cap.

The seller’s family collected cameras, and a part of that collection went to auction last year in Glasgow, Scotland, but this model failed to reach its reserve of £15,000/$21,000 and remained unsold. The seller believed the auction house gathered the wrong audience for the camera, which is why it is now on sale for a somewhat higher price.

Photo: eBay Auction Photo: eBay Auction
Photo: eBay Auction Photo: eBay Auction

At the time of writing, the eBay item has 26 days to run, and if you feel the 'Buy It Now' price is a fraction high for a camera with questionable provenance, you can still make an offer. Examples owned by less famous people can be had on the same site for as little as $1,500... or a bit more from a reputable dealer.


Seller's Description

Im selling Amelia Earharts camera which was gifted by her to a family memeber in 1933 after returning back from a trip to Chicago with her Husband.

The camera has been in my family possession since that time and has been in long term storage, the camera appears to be working correctly.

The hand signed card was personally signed by Amelia and given to my Grandfather along with the camera by Amelia Earhart back in 1933 in Rye New York

Everything is authentic, I've known this camera all my life the signed card is almost like new as it has been stored carefully will post world wide. I would like the camera to go to a museum if possible.

Please note I have absolutely nothing to prove that this was in fact Miss Earharts Camera and research would need to be done to confirm such, I have absolutely no idea how to do that myself. From memory, over 40 years ago my Father told me that she found it fidly to load, Miss Earhart may have studied Photography, my Grandfather had said as much and described her as a keen photographer, she preferred a Kodak folding camera as I recall being told, she was also described as very nice and down to earth.

Amelia's camera was at Mctears Auction house in Glasgow in March 2017, it was part of a rather large collection of cameras that I sold through Mctears. Unfortunately, the auction house could not find enough interest in the UK for Amelia's camera, and as such the camera remained unsold. I can say this as I want to be totally transparent. Auction estimate was 10- £15,000. The last picture is from Mctears Auction house, I was there on the day that picture was taken, Mctears had used a trade gazette to advertise the collection and as such I considered some items were sold at less than their true value and then re-sold on by dealers at a profit later.

I do understand that Provenance is an issue, If I had that the camera would be worth Millions, not thousands. I had Bonhams Auctions out in 2016 who said as much when they inspected the camera.