Leica Cameras

Whenever I am shown a group shot photograph the first person I look for is myself. If I am not there the relief is palpable, if I am, the image which stares back at me never fails to disappoint. The expression “the camera never lies” just adds to my disappointment.

With all the ‘apps’ available today though, the camera can in fact lie very easily. Images can be improved with very little effort. All those years ago when the pioneers were struggling just to develop a clear black and white photograph, the thought of taking, viewing, improving and printing a colour photograph in less time than it took to set up their camera, would never have entered their Victorian heads.

The same can be said for Oskar Barnack. Who was Oskar Barnack? He was a very clever gentleman who in 1911 joined the Leitz company run by Ernst Leitz and who had a passion for photography and was dedicated to building a portable camera. In 1913 he built a prototype and in 1914 he developed it enough for Ernst to take with him on a trip to New York.

Between 1914 and 1924 a lot of water flows under the company’s bridges and the camera goes into production. It is called Leica 1, Lei from the company name and ca from the word camera. In 1925 it is presented at the Leipzig Spring Fair and the rest is history. The camera is a rip-roaring success, the quality is superb and all future developments to it and other models are amazing.

Surprisingly it was not until 1986 that the company changed the name from Leitz to Leica and the Leica Camera division became a private independent company. What a company it was and still today their products are the envy of the world.

Collectors the world over love a Leica and in a recent auction we conducted with a collection of cameras, including many Leicas, most of the estimates were exceeded by large amounts. We are privileged and I have to say excited that on Thursday 14th October we have another camera auction with more Leicas on display. Can life get any better?

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering in auction, or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website.

Retro Gaming

With Christmas memories and waistlines starting to fade, the bright screens and click-click of the gaming handsets can still be heard across the bedrooms and dens of the country as the eagerly anticipated video console games of 2020 are bring played. The likes of FIFA 2020, Call of Duty Modern Warfare and Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order are still pulling strong on the current generation of ‘gamers’.   

However, for gamers of an earlier generation there appears to be a resurgence of nostalgic times past and a passion to collect the video consoles and games of their youth.  The technology may not have been so advanced but the draw and thrill of rolling back the years is a fast-growing collector’s market. As the ‘gamers’ of the 1980’s and 1990’s grow a little older, they seem to have an urge to collect the technology they grew up with. 

So just how long ago did the video gaming age start? In pure terms electronic gaming goes back as long as the earliest computers and the time of Alan Turing and the years immediately after the Second World War. However, home video gaming as perhaps we now understand it, dates back to the mid 1970’s and the introduction of the wonderfully named ‘Home Pong’ by Atari which was a ping pong style game based on amusement arcade gaming concepts. By the 1980’s the advent of home computers in the form of such systems as the Spectrum ZX and Commodore 64 gave a platform for home video gaming and by the 1990’s video gaming had console systems of their own such as Sony Playstation, Nintendo 64 and Sega Megadrive to name a few and the world of the gaming ‘fanatic’ came to be born. As the years have rolled on the technology continues to evolve until today and Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch. But will any of these systems catch up with the biggest selling consoles of all time – Playstation 2 and Nintendo DS.  

The British Broadcasting Corporation Microcomputer System, or BBC Micro, is a series of microcomputers and associated peripherals designed and built by the Acorn Computer company in the 1980s for the BBC Computer Literacy Project, operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Designed with an emphasis on education, it was notable for its ruggedness, expandability, and the quality of its operating system. An accompanying 1982 television series, The Computer Programme, featuring Chris Serle learning to use the machine, was broadcast on BBC2.

The consoles are only part of the story, the other half is the games themselves. From the early days of the ‘Pong’ game developers have taken us to worlds of adventure, racing, puzzles, logic, sport among others and it is in these games that many a collector’s dreams are followed. Individual games can sell in for excess of £10,000 in the collector’s market. Do you have a hidden dust covered copy of ‘Air Raid’ for the 1970’s Atari 2600 or the 1990 Nintendo World Championship on the NES platform?????? In these, value is driven by rarity but what have been the most popular games ever sold? Who remembers the world of colourful tiles? Yes, ‘Tetris’ with over 500 million copies sold worldwide, is a leading contender along with ‘cubes’ of the world of Minecraft. 

If you are drawn back to the world of ‘retro technology’ a number of top tips may help clarify your thinking:-

  1. Always try to ensure the items you buy are working and complete. 
  2. Try to buy with original packaging intact especially if are thinking investment rather than ‘play’. Cables and instructions are often missing.  
  3. If the consideration is long term investment buy the items no one else is buying 
  4. Look out for promotional packaging or bundle deals that may have a short retail shelf life.
  5. ….and games currently on the up in value Cool World on Super Nintendo, Tintin Destination Adventure on original Playstation or what about Amazing Penguin on Gameboy…

The overriding advice as with all collecting hobbies is – enjoy it – as for your authors personal favourite – ‘Goldeneye’ on the Nintendo 64 – ‘I will be with you in a minute Miss Moneypenny, just got to finish level 3!’

The 20th February 2020 sees a specialist auction of Retro Technology taking place at Sheffield Auction Gallery where the likes of Super Mario, Grand Theft Auto, X-Box, Playstation, Atari, ZX Spectrum, Saga game Gear, Super Mario among others are being offered for auction. 

“The technology may be simpler, however, re-living the ‘gaming dramas’ of our youth is becoming more and more popular.” Commented Auction Gallery specialist cataloguer – James Mettam.     

If you have a collection or a single item you’d like to sell in our specialist auction, please contact us either on 0114 281 6161 or email us enquire@sheffieldauctiongallery.com