A reader named Tom tipped me off to the above auction, in which a seller called sk_photo is offering a Leitz Canada lens hood—described as "Leica/Leitz 12522H OLLUX lens hood for Leica 35mm/f1.4 [sic] 1st type lens"—for the rather princely sum of $698.25. (That's €513.42 or £440.88 if you don't feel like looking up the conversions yourself.)
Believe it or not, it's not the most expensive lens hood I've ever seen. Not by a long shot.
At some point in the mid-'90s, when I was working for Photo Techniques, I somehow ran across an auction for an old Nikon lens hood. The hood was for an early 20mm lens for Nikon rangefinders. (Maybe it was 21mm—it might have been the one at this link [you'll have to scroll down to the "Nikkor-O 1:4 f=2.1cm," 1959–60], though I couldn't swear to it now.) When I first encountered the auction, it was at about the asking price of this Leitz hood—which seemed so utterly absurd to me at the time that I started watching the auction.
The price notched higher, and higher, and higher. I assumed two rich collectors were vying for the honors (actually it was three, in the early going—two later on). The price got to a dizzy $3500 or so, and then collapsed—one bidder for some reason retracted all his bids.
I assumed that was that. But no—gradually, the bidding recovered. The auction was set to end overnight, so when I arrived at work the next day (I didn't have internet access at home at the time) I hurriedly checked in. The lens hood—just a little ring of metal, you understand, and quite tiny and shallow, nothing special in and of itself—ended up selling in the neighborhood of $5,500!
I was intensely curious about this. I thought of a veteran Nikon collector I knew who I could call to find out more about the allure of the hood. But first I called the seller. He was a longtime "sole practitioner" gear merchant who was used to selling old stuff to the collector market, the kind of guy who used to advertise in Shutterbug. He hadn't known how to price the old lens hood—he'd never had one before—so he'd put something like a $295 start price on it just to take a stab at it, not knowing whether he could sell it for that. He told me that he and his wife had been so excited by the course of the auction that they'd stayed up all night watching it!
My Nikon collector friend solved the mystery. It turns out that there were only about 100 of those ultrawide lenses made, and they were prohibitively expensive. But, when the lens was new, the hood was an optional accessory—so presumably only a subset of the 100 lens purchasers also purchased the hood.
He told me how many of the hoods were known to exist, and of course I forget the number (I don't have a very good memory for numbers)—I think it was something like 10 or 13.
But the funny thing was that the purchaser had actually made a good investment. It turned out that the rare old ultrawide alone was worth about $5,000—but with an authentic hood it would be worth more like $15,000. So the buyer of the $5,500 lens hood had actually made a good deal, and gotten value out of the transaction!
At any rate, it's at least possible that this Leitz Canada hood at $700 isn't so expensive after all. Things are not always what they appear.
(Thanks to Tom)
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