Compass camera pre-production model c.1936-37 – estimate £12,000-18,000 at Flints.

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The Compass Compact Rangefinder Camera was put into production by Le Coultre & Cie, Switzerland, in 1937, and priced at £30.

Two versions of the Compass come for sale at the end of April with rather different estimates. The devil is in the detail.

The example above, estimated at £12,000-18,000 at Flints’ Fine Photographica sale in Thatcham, Berkshire, on April 23 is a pre-production model c.1936-37.

This early first version was trialled to see the public reaction and it differs from the more common version II on a number of points.

In particular, this camera is 3mm shorter and 3mm thinner than the later version and the lens cap is separate rather than attached. The name LeCoultre is also missing from both the outside of the camera and the inside back. According to Flints, this is the first time an original pre-production Compass camera has been auctioned.

Around 4000 of the Mark II Compass were made in the late 1930s. The sale of Photographica & Cameras at Special Auction Services in Newbury on April 26 includes a good example offered with a number of accessories, estimated together at £2000-3000.