Prototype camera to break new ground

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The Independent Online
Just a year after Christie's broke the world record price for a camera, with a 1901 model that made pounds 39,600, the auction house is expecting to set a new record this summer with a 1925 Leica camera, which is estimated to fetch more than pounds 100,000.

The price reflects the fact that it is 'the single most important camera ever seen at auction' - the prototype for the Leica I, launched in 1925. It was the first commercially successful 35mm camera, a model which shaped the course of photographic history. The Leica 'O' (null) series was conceived by Oskar Barnack (1879-1936), an engineer involved with the German optics manufacturers, Leitz in Wetzlar.

Michael Pritchard, Christie's camera specialist, said that its portable size and shutter, which gave a wide range of speeds, were among ground-breaking features. 'It set the standard for the 35mm cameras we're using today . . . It was copied by Japanese manufacturers . . . who used it as basis of their own designs.' Fewer than 22 examples of these 35mm trial models were produced: only 15 are known to have survived.

The Cardiff Institute for the Blind yesterday sold a Victorian painting of a blind basket-maker and his family for pounds 111,500 - more than 10 times its estimate. The money will go towards building 'the best technology centre for blind people in Britain', due to open next month.

The picture was painted by Michael Frederick Halliday, an artist on the fringe of the Pre-Raphaelites. Scholars had lost trace of it since 1858, when it was first exhibited; a local businessman donated it to the institute in 1923, when it was valued at 150 guineas. It was bought yesterday at Sotheby's Victorian pictures auction by David Mason of the MacConnell-Mason Gallery.

The National Gallery of Scotland has purchased King Lear and the Fool in the Storm, by William Dyce (1806-64), the Scottish master. After its first showing at the Royal Academy in 1851, the work disappeared from public view until it appeared on the market in 1989, discoloured and overpainted. The purchase was made possible with a grant from the National Art Collections Fund, the art charity.

Christie's yesterday sold the library of Beriah Botfield, the eminent bibliophile, for pounds 3.83m against a pre-sale estimate of pounds 2.5m. Only three of 93 lots failed to sell. Star item was a lavish first edition of Redoute's best-known work, Les Roses, which sold for pounds 260,000 (estimate, pounds 120,000 to pounds 160,000).

(Photograph omitted)