Photo-Arsenal is selling Sebastiao Salgado's Leica, for $140,183. Plus $42 shipping.
Actually, this disappoints me a little. This is a special set made to commemorate serial number 3,000,000, presented to Brazilian photographer Salgado in honor of his work and his contributions. If I were a collector, I might be more interested in a camera Salgado had actually used for a long time.
Leicas that look too new are sort of embarrassing. Look here for some pictures of how Leicas ought to look.
This one's the camera equivalent of what, in book collecting, they call an "association copy," meaning an object that is associated with a certain person. It was made in honor of Salgado, presented to him, and he owned it. But at the same time it was not really "his" camera in the usual sense.
The term for an object's ownership history is "provenance." I've mentioned here that I once owned a Leica that belonged to the actor Jack Lemmon. I once visited Ralph Gibson's studio in SoHo, and he had in his darkroom the Leitz Focomat enlarger that Robert Frank had used to print the original pictures for The Americans. I've always said that one deserves to end up in the Smithsonian. I also got a tip once about a Leitz Focotar enlarging lens that belonged to Lee Friedlander; an internet correspondent of mine had been in a New York photo store when Friedlander came in and sold the lens to them. (That's also how I got the Lemmon Leica, from a photo store clerk who had taken it in trade-in—Mr. Lemmon bought a Nikon DSLR, if I remember correctly. It was only shortly before he died.)
Makes me wonder where some other famous cameras are. Some of Ansel Adams's are at Arizona, although his Hasselblad outfit was auctioned in 1998 and reportedly purchased by that DJ who disgraced himself by calling female basketball players nasty names a few years ago. I suppose Edward Weston's children still have his cameras. I wonder where Stieglitz's view camera ended up? It was already ancient and falling apart when Stieglitz owned it.
For that matter, I wonder where Leica serial number 1,000,000 is? It was made for, and presented to, Alfred Eisenstadt, I think. I also think he used his. Doesn't look like Mr. Salgado put many miles on this one.
Featured Comment by Richard: "Did you mention that Africa is out? The reproduction quality is quite high, to my untrained eyes. The photos are without peer of course."
Mike replies: For some reason, my readers don't care for Africa. I did a post about it and not one reader ordered one, one of the worst results I've ever gotten from a link! (I do pay attention, to try to get a handle on peoples' tastes.) It is a shame as it is a marvelous photobook—the photographs themselves, their technical quality, and the reproduction quality are all absolutely top notch. (Although I like the Leica pictures better than the Pentax pictures.)
But I decided it was too expensive for me, and I didn't buy it for myself at the time despite my admiration for it, so I guess I understand. Then again, it's a lot cheaper now than it was prior to last Christmas...about the same as the shipping cost for the camera above, actually!
UPDATE: I get to take back my comment above about our readers not liking Africa. In the 24 hours after this comment went up, seven people bought the book. Cool.
I have to say it's fun being able to see what people are buying (I get reports on what's sold through our links, but not who buys it and not what else any given individual bought—just the item and the number sold). It's interesting to get such a "hard read" on what interests and appeals to people.
Featured Comment by Mark S+: "Alfred Stieglitz's 8x10, a Kodak 2D, is in the collection of the George Eastman House (GEH), donated by Georgia O'Keefe. It was on display a couple of years ago, and yes, it's pretty beat. (It was carrying a brass 12" Goerz Dagor lens.) There's lots of historical hardware there—currently on display is the 4x5 Speed Graphic that Joe Rosenthal used on Iwo Jima."
Mike replies: Thanks Mark!
Featured Comment by tbm: "Kim Weston still has his grandfather [Edward]'s and father [Cole]'s camera equipment, but he currently uses two identical Arca-Swiss 8x10 cameras on heavy stands while capturing images at the ocean and in his studio. He bought both cameras, each costing about $7–8 thousand, a while ago. I have photographed with him twice in the last three years, and the quality of the images that end up on his large negatives is stunning! He has an 8x10 enlarger, a cold-tube enlarger, and an old Leitz 35mm enlarger in his darkroom. With the 8x10 he makes enormous enlargements, but dust is a recurring problem. However, he mastered spotting prints while being trained by his father and he is amazingly proficient at ridding his prints of spots and other artifacts."
(Inset: Kim Weston [seated] at Wildcat Hill, Edward Weston's old home in the Carmel Highlands where Kim Weston and his wife Gina now live. Arca-Swisses at right. From kimweston.com. —MJ)