Bidders snap up shop display cameras

A group of giant ‘shop display’ models of classic Leica cameras excelled when offered at the Chiswick Auctions’ Photographica sale in London recently.

The quartet of painted wood models, each around 2ft (60cm) across were made in the 1950s for use at trade fairs or exhibitions. 

Early camera retailers would regularly have used ‘dummy’ cameras in their retail establishments for security purposes. However, these outsize models would have been used for publicity for the release of a new design. Made with an almost obsessional attention to detail, these replica cameras are made in wood with textured Rexine coverings, hand-painted dials, branding, trim and even transparent ‘lenses’, and have all the features of the originals. In some instances, the model maker used actual camera film roll casings and lids, to create the dials and details.

Together the four models took £23,000. The model of a 1934 Leica 250 ‘Reporter camera led bidding at £7,500 while a model of a 1950 Leica IIIf, a camera, introduced in Christmas 1950 took £6,250. The 1954 Leica M3 is the most iconic and successful M model made with over 220,000 sold. Its wooden dummy model sold for £5,500 with the dummy model of a 1932 Leica III rangefinder camera hammered for £3,750.