|February 4, 2013||Posted by Photo GearHead under Cool Gear Auctions|
First introduced way back in 1980, the Minolta CLE was a true legend of a camera. From the time of its initial release, and right up until the introduction of the Leica M7 more than twenty years later, the Minolta CLE remained the most technologically advanced Leica M mount camera on the market. It had one of the most advanced and sophisticated metering systems of any camera of its time, was the very first M-mount camera to feature an electronic shutter, the first M-mount to utilize an electronic remote shutter release, and the first M-mount camera to utilize a TTL flash system. It would also remain the ONLY M-mount camera to offer TTL flash for the first eighteen years of its production — right up until Leica released the M6 with TTL capabilities in 1998. What’s that old slogan Minolta used to use? “Only from the minds of Minolta“? Looks that way, huh?
With all of that in mind, and with the commonality of boasts readily available on the Internet from Minolta CLE owners claiming the CLE to be among the best cameras they’ve ever shot with, it’s a bit of a puzzle as to why the CLE didn’t sell better than it actually did. It’s estimated that the entire production run of Minolta CLE cameras topped out somewhere at around 35,000 units.
Even with all of its fantabulous technological whatsi-hoosits, The Minolta CLE was clearly missing something to make it really attractive to the camera buying public. Yes, the Minolta CLE’s big downfall, we think, is that Minolta never bothered to wrap that sucker in glinty-shiney glimmering GOOOOOLD! Yes, GOLD! GOOOOLD! Minolta never, ever did this… that is, until they decided to release a very limited edition gold CLE only to the Japanese market in order to celebrate Minolta’s production of their three-millionth camera!
The “gold limited edition” Minolta CLE was limited to a mere 300 units, and was covered in authentic gold plating — including the camera strap lugs and the lens mount of the lens that came with it. The gold edition was originally sold by lottery only, and only inside of Japan. For many, many years, examples of the limited edition gold CLE remained virtually non-existent outside of Japan. Today, they’re somewhat easier to come across, but they still remain an exceedingly rare and sought after collector camera — especially so, of course, among Minolta collectors specifically.
Of course, due to their rarity and worth, a certain amount of both skulduggery and sneak-thievery was sure to soon rear its head on the collector’s market. Other than being plated with gold, the gold limited edition Minolta CLE was absolutely identical in most every way to a regular CLE. So, what’s to stop some unscrupulous rapscallion from simply gold plating a regular CLE and trying to pass it off as one of the original three-hundred rarities? Well… nothing. And so, being unscrupulous rapscallions given to acts of skulduggery and sneak-thievery, that’s exactly what they did! It is known that there currently are some gold plated non-limited edition Minolta CLEs making the rounds on the collector’s market. And, the camera featured in this auction, my friends, just might — maybe — be one of those! So, buyer beware.
According to CameraQuest.Com, the authentic limited edition CLEs had serial numbers that ranged from #3,000,001 up to #3,000,0300. However, the seller of this auction claims the serial number of this particular specimen is actually #2,000,393 — which is odd, considering that CameraQuest.Com also claims that the non-limited edition versions sport serial numbers probably beginning at 1,000,001, and with a recorded high of 1,033,618. With a total production run of somewhere around thirty-five thousand units, it’s difficult to see where and how that 2,000,393 SN comes in. The problem gets more perplexing when you consider this sale of another gold limited edition Minolta CLE which also possesses a two-million-plus serial number. So, what’s the deal? Did CameraQuest just get it wrong? It could be, I suppose. But, I don’t know. So, as I said, buyer beware!
The starting price for this auction is set at $4,999.99 — which puts it at about a thousand dollars over Collectiblend’s estimate for such a camera in mint condition. Keep in mind, however, that Cellectiblend’s estimate is for the camera alone, and this auction features a number of included extras. Along with that, Collectiblend’s data for this particular camera model is admittedly sparse, and as such, they acknowledge that their estimate might not be all that accurate and offer it merely as a suggestion.
The auction is located here, and is set to expire on February 10th. The Seller is located in Quebec, Canada. There are currently no bids on this item as of the time of this writing.