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Monday, September 7

Some Leica Greatness

The tatty but characterful cover.

It's amazing what's been turning up as I've sorted through the darkroom detritus. I vaguely remembered seeing this old Leica News and Technique magazine at some point but I couldn't say what was in it. It turns out it was the second last edition ever printed.

It's dated March-April, 1939, the 38th edition published. The mag was published by the UK Leica importer, E. Leitz (London) Ltd. There was one more bi-monthly edition - May-June - and then the war intervened.  It was the Wallace Heaton camera dealership - publishers of the famous Blue Book - that broke the news to Leica enthusiasts in a letter dated February 2, 1940 that, due to the war, the 40th edition could not be produced. The magazine was never published again.

What's particularly poignant for me are the photographs (see further down) in my magazine of the guys working in the Leitz factory. Ordinary people taking great pride in their work whose lives would be completely turned upside down just six months later. Very, very sad. However, the good news is that Leitz managed to survive, then thrive, get a bit moribund and then bounce right back. At least, they were doing quite well the last time I heard. Hopefully, that's still the case.

Back cover: Essential for the Leica sports photographer

The 39th edition, the only one I have, has a few features that I thought would be of particular interest to Leica fans. I've scanned the pages which, like the Leica brochures I've posted in the past (you can find them in the left-hand column under "Classic Leica Literature"), should be big enough for printing out. My copy is pretty moth-eaten and stained but still intact.

The first feature is a fascinating insight into the first 25 years of the Leitz operation at Wetzlar, followed by a brief article by Leica's own Heinrich Stöckler about an updated version of his famous two-bath developer. It's funny reading something about the Stöckler two-bath from the man himself!

Rounding it off is a feature about rapid winding devices for the Leica. You can see the clockwork-driven Leica Motor and the trigger pull Leicavit on the back cover above but the story below explains the devices in some detail.

I'm keen to scan and share these old brochures and leaflets because I'm sure a lot of camera enthusiasts will find them as interesting as I do. If you have any similar brochures then it would be great if you were able to scan them as well. If you send me the jpegs, I'll gladly post them here. It's all a part of the great history and tradition of film photography and it's nice being able to keep it alive somehow.





DavidM said...

For us today, there's a sort of deckchairs-on-the-Titanic feeling about this, but it's interesting in its own right. These people were not responsible for what followed.
A naughty thought – what kind of camera was used to make the illustrations? The verticals are suspiciously vertical.

Bruce Robbins said...

The Germans were clever enough to build their buildings with diverging verticals so that their photographers could shoot away with Leicas and not have to worry about these things.

andrew glover said...

You chaps seem to forget that the same Germans also made the very nifty adjustable easel where verticals could be straightened....all before Adobe Photoshop!! :-)