Large scale model of a Leica 250 ‘Reporter’ Riesen model Rangefinder camera, £6000 at Chiswick Auctions.

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Wooden dummy models, made to scale, using actual camera casings but with no internal mechanisms, were used by early retailers for display to demonstrate the new designs to prospective buyers (as these were expensive items to purchase, the dummies would have meant that retailers would not have had to take their displays down each night for security).

The models offered by Chiswick on July 5 were quite something: five of them made to massive scale to faithfully resemble the actual models but used for trade fairs and exhibitions, or for press and publicity for the release of a new design.

The saleroom said: “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, and in some instances employ actual camera film roll casings and lids, to create the dials and details.”

Giant steps 

Best-seller of the five, at a top estimate £6000, was a model of a Leica 250 ‘Reporter’ Riesen model Rangefinder camera, the type with a black painted body and distinctive side barrels designed to take bulk rolls of up to 10 metres of film allowing up to 250 exposures. The dummy measured a hefty 2ft x 8in x 9in (61 x 20 x 23cm) - see picture above with a normal camera for scale.

Other ‘giants’ sold for £5000, £4400 and £3000 with one unsold.