A neighborhood friend came to dinner the other night. Knowing I was a photographer she brought couple cameras along to show me. One was her Canon digital which she uses often. The other she said her husband had found while working on an abandoned house in California some dozen years ago. She reached in her bag and pulled out a Leica A, the first production model which Leica made from 1925 to 1936.
The camera showed some brassing and discoloration, but only from many years of use and not from any abuse. The original Elmar lens extended smoothly without and resistance or wobbling and the glass was unmarred. The focusing helical seemed only a little stiff. I put a small amount of pressure on the advance knob, but it did not want to turn. I flipped forward the little rewind lever, but the rewind knob also resisted movement. It seemed possible there was still a roll of film in the camera.
As I held the Leica in my hand my mind was immediately flooded with a parade of images by all the great mid-Century photographers like Cartier-Bresson, Kertesz and Rodchenko who used the then-new miniature camera to revolutionize photographic image making. It was a thrill to hold the camera which had been used by a contemporary of those pathfinders. I hope to have a chance to examine it more closely sometime.