Manufactured specifically for the US Army in the early 1970s, the Leica Leitz KE-7A is a collector’s dream. At that time, only 505 units were produced, 460 were acquired by the US military, identifiable as Army issue due to engravings on the camera body, while the rest were sold to the civilian market.
While the inner workings of the camera are the same as the Leica M4, the KE-7A featured more robust weather sealing and a modified shutter to enable the camera to work in extremely cold conditions. It could then be used by the military in harsher conditions than most photographers would be exposed to.
On eBay right now you can get your hands on a mint-condition, never-been-used complete Leica KE-7A set, including the camera along with a Leica 50mm f/2 Elcan lens, lens hood and cap, case, box and a strap and cable release.
The set also comes with a camera manual which reportedly contains a chapter on how to destroy the camera to avoid it going into enemy hands.
All in all, it’s a pretty great haul. The catch?
This particular camera is being sold sight unseen, since the seller purports to be selling it unused in a sealed, unopened bag. A Schrödinger’s camera, of sorts.
Recognising that few would be willing to part with their cash—a not insignificant sum of US$45,300 (OBO), mind you—without more proof of what lies within, the seller has provided a x-ray image of the innards, proving that, if nothing else, a camera skeleton lurks within.
The seller also provides the Federal Stock Number and contract designation number, issued only to units produced for the Army, as further evidence of its authenticity.
The KA-7A is certainly sought after in collectors circles. Models in pristine condition can fetch sky-high prices, so an unused specimen will certainly generate a lot of interest. Note that the only other example currently available on eBay is lightly used, though in good condition, and for sale at $24,000.
For serious buyers in need of more proof before handing over the money, the seller is willing to provide it, for a cost. “Although I do not advise I can open the bag to inspect the camera for you at a €5,000 non-refundable deposit,” states the seller. “If you decide not to buy at any reason the deposit will not be refunded as the value will then be less.”
The seller also provides a sample image of the KA-7A set in all its glory, from Foto Henny Hoogeveen at the Leica Store Lisse.
So, US$45K for Schrödinger’s camera…any takers?
Cover image via eBay.