Leica M3 Olive Bundeseigentum

Every now and again I get the honour of being able to find very very special items for my clients, and this really was one of them. The absolutely stunning Original Olive M3 Bundeseigentum.

When people think of rare Leica cameras, they usually look first at the original MP or the black paint M3’s. Many people completely overlook the Olive Leica’s and just see them as an oddity. But for the hardcore dedicated few, the Bundeseigentum cameras produced by Leica are actually some of the rarest and most sought after of all.
The cameras were made during the period from 1957 through to 1968 and only made in very small batches. This particular camera came from the first batch, which means it is a double stroke as opposed to the later single stroke action M3’s. This is a particularly rare camera because of not only the double stroke action, but the fact that the vulcanite is complete, which is unusual in these cameras as they were subjected to use by the military. There is no way of replacing the vulcanite on these cameras, so to have one with it intact is a marvel.

Bundeseigentum means ‘government property’, and as such many of these cameras never made it out of the military. In fact I am sure that there are probably still a couple out there languishing in a forgotten storeroom.
When the camera was send to the government it was supplied as a set, with 3 lenses, a leather carry case and meter. This was the ultimate in military chic, before it was even invented! You can see the set in detail here.

According to records there were around 214 pieces made, although that is only the shipping record and it is inaccurate as there may have been a couple more that were not put on file. According to the current Leica list there are only 144 of these cameras left now. And almost none of them are double stroke or in this kind of condition.

As with any kind of rare item there are also a lot of fakes about of this camera. The military leica’s are particularly hard to verify, as in some cases there are no records of the camera. Coupled with the fact that many of them had the Bundeseigentum serial number removed from the back of the camera, so that they could be ‘liberated’ from military service with less chance of being caught, it is hard to tell the real from the fakes. Which is why this one was verified by one of the most eminent Leica specialists, Mr. Nakamura.
To come across a camera like this is really a marker for what I do. I feel like I have reached a milestone by locating this camera.
It is only when you have this camera in your hand you realize how simply beautiful it is. The olive colour makes you really take the camera in, and the slight brassing is super sexy. This is one of the most beautiful cameras I have ever seen.

As you can see from the pictures the camera has gone to a serious collector, but it will be used! This is not going to sit on a shelf and never be used again, this camera will take pictures, hopefully for many more years.

Please don’t ask me to divulge prices for this camera, I am afraid I cannot do that, but I can say it was a price that is reflective of its rarity. This camera is an investment and something you only get to see a few times in your career. I am honoured to have been able to handle this.

You know, sometimes I really do feel like I have the dream job.


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