Cartier-Bresson's silver Leica A

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by Troll, Apr 27, 2017.

  1. Pictures on his website show a beautiful silver camera, but I thought that the Leica A was only made in black enamel finish;
    Any comments?
     
  2. Link?

    Sometimes, Leicas were even made in "gold".

    Here is one of mine, marked with the Swedish Army three crowns. How it ever got to the Ukraine is a total mystery to me. :)
    Swedish-Leica-crowns.jpg
     
  3. Sometimes, Leicas were even made in "gold".

    Gold, yes. But chrome in the 1930s?
     
  4. The 'first Leica' on his Wikipedia page looks like a 1929 model from the serial number: Henri Cartier-Bresson - Wikipedia . I also thought they were painted black at that time, though chrome was common by the mid 30s. Perhaps the camera has been rebuilt or refinished, though the same page also mentions that "He enhanced his anonymity by painting all shiny parts of the Leica with black paint." Hmm...
     
  5. Looking for an answer, I discovered that you asked the same question back in 2007: HC-B's first Leica, need history expert explaination
    The Leica Standard, Leica II, and Leica III came in chrome, as early as 1933 for the II and III and 1934 for the Standard.
     
  6. Did anyone answer the question in 2007? This one is much earlier than the usual date given for chrome cameras.
     
  7. Nickel plate was common before chrome. Did Leica ever nickel plate?
     
  8. lenses, yes. cameras - I don't know (dials probably)
     
  9. Nickel-plated dials (shutter speed, film advance and rewind, etc.) were used on the black cameras, but on this one the top plate is also chrome (or some silvery metal finish, anyway). Looking now at the earlier thread, I see the points we've considered have been made before, and someone points out that the HCB camera has a black rewind lever, perhaps suggesting the whole camera once had a black painted finish.
     
  10. But wouldn't "black paint" mean that there should be brass underneath? Not something silvery?
     
  11. Wow JDM, I can't believe you chanced removing that rare piece from it's vault, and just to show us...
    What a treat, thanks !
     
  12. Yes, but the camera might have been disassembled and a worn paint job stripped off completely, and the brass chrome-plated before reassembling with the original fittings (including the black lever). Or of course damaged plates could be replaced completely with chrome plates (on which the original serial number would typically be re-engraved). But perhaps it was nothing so complicated and the camera was a special order that left the factory that way. Leitz did some unusual things from time to time. A few years ago, someone posted about a brass-finished Leica that looked superficially like a Luxus (or JDM's camera!). We assumed it had been re-finished at some point, but when the poster asked Leica, it apparently turned out to be a special order in its original condition.
     
  13. All one can do is speculate. It is a bit surprising that the camera is displayed at the Bresson Foundation without giving a full background story of it.
    Here's a film that shows him with that particular camera: ARCHIVE FILM: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Pen, Brush and Camera 1999 (at around 9 minutes in). But there's no information beyond the purchasing date (1932) (but I've also read 1931 elsewhere).
     
  14. Thanks for the video, Dieter; I'd not seen it before.
    I guess that I'm not convinced that this was the first Leica I he bought.
    I'll probably ask the same question again, as soon as my memory of asking it oozes from my senile old brain.
     
  15. JDMvW likes this.
  16. Cartier Bresson's pictures were based on silver gelatine and black and white photography.
     

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