Leica II(D) 1932-48

Tomei Collection


Following the great success of the Leica I models that were introduced beginning in 1926, a decision was made to produce a model incorporating a coupled rangefinder in the top housing.  The Leica II was also known as the Model D in the United States and the Couplex Leica in France, and carried the code LYKAN.  It was produced from early 1932 through 1947/48.  Few people are aware that Leitz in New York produced a few Leica II cameras after WWII using Leica III bodies.  There were about 200 built with what may seem to be war time serial numbers.  
 
In 1932, the Leica II was available only in black lacquer with nickel plated elements, whereas a chrome version appeared later in 1933.  The example shown here is one of the earliest Leica II(D) model produced by Leitz in 1932.
 
Please see Leica inlaid engraving for more on the special Wismut inlaid engraving technique used by Leitz on these early black lacquered models.
 
The earliest Model II(D) cameras can be identified by several characteristics. One is what has been called the "lavatory seat" design of the upper housing beneath the shutter speed dial. This was soon changed to the conventional flat angular design after a few months of production in 1932 which then remained the standard design for the top housing of Leica cameras for the next 25 years. 

When the camera arrived it had an incorrect chrome speed dial which obviously did not match the nickel plating.  However, the original nickel plated large diameter dial was found jammed into a corner of the leather case. This correct dial was re-installed as shown on the camera to the right.

Above: The first English manual from Wetzlar published in January 1933.

Right: Elmar 13.5 cm f/4.5 serial #142148 was built in 1932 with nickel scale.

 Below: Camera as it arrived with incorrect chrome speed dial.

This camera also has the rear plug as well as the pressure plate access port which was only used in combination with the early standardized Elmar lenses where the true focal length varied a few mm's.  The 5cm Elmar here is a standardized lens but also has the Leitz code engraved on the rear of the focusing lever.  This code identified the true focal length of the lens and permitted final adjustment of infinity focus.

Both the engraved true focal length code on the lens and the pressure plate access port appeared for only a brief period and are not commonly found on the IID and Elmar lenses.

In the earliest examples of the Leica II(D) as shown here, there was a plug in the back of the camera body (see above) which had been used on non-standardized Leica models A, B and C for final lens adjustments. This was accessed through the film pressure plate by means of an access port as seen here. The presence of the access port indicates that the pressure plate had actually been produced for the earlier Leica model.

The nickel 5cm f/3.5 Elmar (130,736) is among the earliest produced for the coupled rangefinder. These are marked by the 11 o'clock infinity lock and the bell-push release button.
 

The rear of the focusing tab has a "10" engraved which is the Leitz code for the true focal length of the lens. However, the rear of the flange ring does not have the "O" engraved as do other early standardized Elmar lenses.

 

 
 

The "Fat Elmar" shown above was produced only in 1931 as indicated by the fact that it is not RF coupled and has no external serial number.
 
The VIDOM viewfinder also shown in these images was built in 1933 and has the black composite nose and nickel plating.

Above: Shown with Hektor 7.3cm  f/1.9 lens built in 1937.