Trashing your Leica
Because these things are sooo expensive, there's an unfortunate tendency amongst many Leica users to treat their cameras like Faberge Eggs.
Luckily, not everyone is so damn sentimental…
Follow the bouncing red dot
According to a July 2002 email from "Norman B. Shapiro" <nshapiro@ lava.net>, a few Leica sales reps in the 1960s had a more enlightened attitude towards their Leicas…
When I was in college, in Ohio, in the 1960's studying photography we had a few students with Leica equipment. It was very expensive stuff (compared to Nikon F's that most of us had).
I was told that the Leica reps had a little trick to get people to buy their equipment. They would hold a get together with photographers to show off their stuff. They always picked places (meeting rooms in hotels, universities, etc) that had concrete block walls. After their song and dance people would still say why should they pay more money for Leica stuff. The rep would then stand maybe 20 feet away from the wall, throw an camera body against the wall, pick it up and show that is still worked fine. They would then offer anyone to try it with their cameras. They sold a lot of cameras this way.
My kind of photo-club
You probably already suspect this, but sometimes Leicas are useful as improvised weapons when fighting off unwanted admirers. For example, in May 2003 "Dr IC Tuna" <tuna@ evansvilleheartcenter.com> sent me the following note:
I read a comment in an old Leica Photography Magazine years ago, that Errol Flynn had a son that was a photojournalist. According to this article, [the son] was in an urban setting taking pictures when he was accosted by some unruly locals. According to the article he successfully used his Leica rangefinder as a club to beat off an attacker (knocked him out apparently) and then continued to take pictures unaccosted!
I wish I had the old magazine, but I don't. I'm sure this was the official Leica publication, which I received haphazardly (just a few issues) back in the 1970's.
Heard the one about the Leica dropped from an airplane which still worked after it was found a few months later? Well, it turns out this actually happened.
"Javier Montiel" <Doc748@ aol.com> begins the story:
[…] At that time [late 1970s], there was a photographer that specialised in photographing war planes, [Mark Meyer], who used to take pictures with the SL-2 MOT, and I thought that was cool. I think the story goes that he had to eject from one of the fighter planes he was photographing in and lost one of his cameras. Well, it turned out that it was recovered in later years by an infantry man while on training in the same region, but the most fascinating part of the story is that the film was OK and the camera survived the fall and neglect. I read somewhere that this camera is now on display in a museum in Germany.
Sal DiMarco Jnr adds the following:
[Mark Meyer], worked for TIME magazine, which is were I meet him. As I understand the story, the camera was found by a hiker, who brought the camera to a camera store, who was notified of a reward offered by TIME for the return of the camera and film. Unfortunately Mark died a few years ago. None of his equipment has reached the market place. He did have a few interesting items. The camera is on display at Leica AG headquarters in Solms. BTW, the lens (35mm Summicron-R) was repairable, and the motor still worked.
If you are looking for aircraft photography books by Mark Meyer, search the net for 2nd-hand copies of either "Wings" or "Classics", the titles of two of his books (which most likely are out of print by now).
NGS shoot 'til you drop
M cameras can also come in for a lot of abuse. See the tortured, beaten-to-death history of a National Geographic photographer's M2 offered on Ebay in July 2001 at <Photo.net: #002knK>
Vulcanite & burning hydrogen does not mix
Of course LTM cameras have come to greif as well. In April 2003 "Christopher Engeler" <email@example.com> provided the following details of cameras destroyed in the fire which followed the arrival of the Hindenburg:
Some of the most famous Leicas are those that were recovered from the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. In fact, there is one for sale at at the following link (see below). These cameras however are not in working condition, as you can imagine.
Here are some of the molten or destroyed Leicas:
Leica Nr. 207808, Summar F : 5 1 : 2
Nr. 313953 zerstört Leica
Nr. 204916, Summar F : 5 1 : 2
Nr. 313108 zerstört Leica
Nr. 149940, Summar F : 5 1 : 2 zerstört
Leica Nr. 194376 zerschmolzen
Leica Nr. 218525, Leitz Elmar F : 5 L : 3,5 zerstört
Two Leicas are at the Leica Museum in Solms:
1. Leica IIIa No. 305.442 mit Summar 1:2/50 mm
2. Leica II No. 204.946 mit Summar 1:2/50 mm
M6 metal work
And finally, Kyle Cassidy took a metal rasp to his M6 while delivering a presentation at the NY LUG meeting in July 2002, much to the distress of many in the audience: