|February 26, 2013||Posted by Photo GearHead under Cool Gear Auctions|
In 1934, Zeiss Ikon introduced the “Super Nettel” line of 35mm folding cameras, intended as a less expensive alternative to their high-end 35mm range-finder camera, the Contax I. Which, itself, was made with the intention of competing with cameras being offered by Leica at the time.
As the Zeiss’ “high-end”, Leica competitive, Contax I offering, originally released in 1932, suffered from reliability issues, the price-tag that Zeiss stuck on to the Contax I actually competed better with their rival Leicas than did the camera itself. So, two years later, in 1934, Zeiss decided to put into production a less expensive version of the Contax — hoping to grab a bit of the 35mm market share away from Leica — of which, Leica had effectively “pwnzerd” (To use some hip, street-jargon, not of the day) since almost single-handedly creating the market back in the mid 1920’s.
This cheaper version was the Super Nettel — complete with coupled rangefinder, and 1/1000 vertically traveling focal-plane shutter. The Super Nettel was offered in any color finish the buyer chose (as long as they chose black), and came with a choice of three separate lenses: a 50mm f/3.5 Zeiss Triotar, 50mm f/2.8 Zeiss Tessar, or a 50mm f/3.5 Tessar.
Two years after that, in 1936, Zeiss decided to slap a chrome finish onto the Super Nettel, add the Roman Numeral “II” to its name, drop the number of accompanying lenses from three to one — the f/2.8 50mm Tressar — and make it a fixed lens system, rather than interchangeable, and produce a limited amount of just two-thousand bodies. And, it is one of those very same two-thousand bodies that has come up for sale today — the one, to be specific, that bears the Zeiss serial number of “Z.43343”
The Super Nettel II was produced for only two years — from 1936, to 1938. And, it is not known how many of the two-thousand bodies still exist today. It’s been surmised that it’s not all that many, however, since the originally more expensive Contax I cameras appear to be much more common on the current vintage camera market than is the Super Nettel II.
So attractive to vintage camera collectors are the Super Nettel II cameras, in fact, that even Christie’s offer them up for auction, with this Super Nettel II fetching a price of over $800.00 USD at Christie’s of London in 2007. And, everybody knows that the uber-hoity-toity Christie’s auction house ONLY deals in really rare and valuable things ‘n’ stuff, right? I mean, think about owning a camera that you can show-off to your photographer friends and say “One sold at Christie’s in London back in 2007” C’mon! You see that kind of stuff in the movies. Your friends are sure to be impressed! Or… maybe Christie’s sells cheap crap as well… I don’t know much about them. They auction stuff — sometimes that stuff is really, really, expensive. That’s all I know.
The seller of this particular auction claims that his version of the Super Nettel II is in full working order, good physical condition with some signs of wear (normal for a camera of this age) and the optics appear to be in good condition. The opening bid has been set at $499.00 USD, wich, going by the Christie’s price that the Super Nettel achieved six years ago, would seem to be a bit of a bargain. And Collectiblend, believe it or not, puts this camera in a price range of anywhere from $600.00 to $1,600.00 USD from average to mint condition.
So far, there have been zero bids placed at the time of this writing. The auction is set to expire on March 1st. You can view the auction by following this link.
Here is an original leaflet published by Zeiss Icon for the Super Nettel:
And another for the Super Nettel and “Nettax” cameras. (The Nettex was effectivley the Super Nettel III — Zeiss changed the name to Nettex, for some reason, for this edition of the Super Nettel Camera):
And, here’s a little film of some black-gloved person playing around with a Zeiss Super Nettel (Not a Super Nettell II):