Collecting has no limits when it comes to paying for a piece that is part of the history of an iconic brand. Nikon, which is now one of the greatest exponents in photography, has a resume of almost a century and proof of this is the Nikon One, a camera that was sold for $406,000 at auction. What history has this piece to reach such sales value?
The auction was held in the Austrian house Westlicht, with the starting price of $90,000 and the estimated final price was $180,000 (coming to the end to more than double). The reason? It is the oldest part of Nikon’s photography trajectory.
The first stone of a road of almost a century
The original company was born in Japan in 1917 as the optics company Nippon Kōgaku Kōgyō. Over time, it grew and specialized, being a supplier of optical instruments of the Japanese army in World War II and working on the construction of Canon camera bodies in 1930, but it would still take almost two decades to launch the photography market with its own models.
In 1946 it was renamed Nikon (as a merger between Nippon Kōgaku – Japanese optics – and Zeiss’s Ikon brand), returning to the manufacture of products for civilians. Two years later is when they finally begin with the making of their own cameras photographing initiating the one that would be a long trajectory with the Nikon One or Nikon I.
This camera, for which a first Nikkor lens of 50 mm / F3.5 was designed, fired photographs with format 24 x 32 mm. Shutter speeds offered were 1 to 1/20 seconds and 1/30 to 1/500 second, with modes time and bulb, without flash sync (it would not reach until 1950 with Nikon Nikon M Syncro).
It was not until later when the brand started to become popular among American journalists like David Douglas Duncan, who used optical Nikorr to cover the Korean War. The rise of Nikon would come later, with the manufacture of the model Nikon S, which was made 36,746 units.
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In fact, the Nikon One produced a few, less than half of the second Nikon camera (Nikon M, 1951) that already had a short print (about 1,600 units). According to Robert Rotolini, author of Nikon Rangefinder Camera: An Illustrated History, they came to produce only 738 Nikon One : a first series reference number four digits (6091-6095), a second serial number of five digits (60912 -60983) and a final roll in 1949 with six-digit serial numbers (609158-609758).
The only ‘one’: there is no more ancient one
The importance of the camera beyond antiquity itself is the fact that it is the beginning of Nikon’s foray into photography with its own cameras (no longer just lenses). And after about 70 years, with so few manufactured and not being a camera to stand out especially, it is not too easy to get one today, aspects that already make their value increase.
But besides that it has been auctioned is now the oldest of circulating there on record, with the serial number 60922. The model in question does not carry the lens mentioned before, but riding a 50 mm optical / F2 .0 (the eleventh target model manufactured Nikon) with silver finish (which was most units except for a few in black) and the inscription Made in occupied Japan at the base. The case, the classic leather, also has value being a very particular model with double strap, according to the auction house.