Described as an “extremely rare 1930s E Leitz accessory”, the Leica camera was bought by a Hong Kong collector in the Photographica auction on July 23. He competed with phone bidders for the prize, estimated at £100,000-150,000, with two bidders left to battle it out past the £80,000 mark.
The gun was developed by Ernst Leitz of Wetzlar, Germany, at the suggestion of Commander Attilio Gatti, a celebrated African explorer of the 1930s. Gatti’s request came as he needed a hand-held support for the camera he was using for rapid sequence wildlife photography and this design fitted the bill.
Leitz envisaged the Leica Gun would also be used for sports and news photography but it was only used for a few years. It first appeared in 1938 costing $465 with a 20cm lens and camera but it did not sell well and disappeared around 1940.
The Leica Gun offered for sale in Berkshire was formerly the property of a Swedish photographer who bought it second-hand in 1951 and it had remained in his family ever since. The vendor decided to consign to SAS after finding the auction house on a web search and seeing its Photographica sales.
The previous house record was £115,000 for an Asian bronze statuette.
SAS charges a 17.5% buyer’s premium on top of the hammer price.