Leica fact 24: Leica boxes may be used to determine the age of an accessory.

Leica collectors often have difficulty in determining the age of an accessory. It is easy to find websites with serial numbers and production years for Leica cameras and lenses. With that information it is quite easy to determine the production year of cameras and lenses.

This is different for accessories. Firstly most accessories don’t have a serial number, and if they have one, no public sources are available to find a production year for these serial numbers. 

Secondly many accessories have been in production unchanged during 20 of more years. Much longer than most cameras and lenses.

Leitz early catalogues can help to track down the introduction year of an accessory. Literature like the Leica accessory guide published by Hoove sometimes mentions when Leitz made a change to an accessory. Also the logo of Leitz and Leica changed over the years. This all may give an indication of the production year.

Apart from this the colour and design of the original boxes gives an indication of the production/sales period, as Leitz used different colours and designs over time. Of course you need to have the original box with the accessory. 

I found very little on the types of boxes Leitz used. Therefore I posed a question on https://www.l-camera-forum.com/topic/307215-the-leica-box-colors-and-printing-types-through-the-years/?tab=comments#comment-3929164

Here I have got some helpful comments, which was the basis for my further quest.

I did a small research on eBay for lenses and cameras with their original boxes. Given the fact that these items have a serial number (and hence their production year) it was possible to make a connection between box colour/design and period in which Leitz used the box.

This gives a good indication of the period that these boxes have been used.

However there are some remarks:

1 I found some combinations that were not logical. For instance for type 15 ‘White with red letters’ all serial numbers were after 1988, apart from one, which was, dated 1983. This was a Super Angulon lens that was not sold too much. Possibly it was in stock for a long time until it was sold and packed in then actual box. In this case I used 1988 as the start year of this box type.

2 eBay has little cameras and lenses from the period until about 1950 with their original box. 

The book ‘The 10 different variants of the classic Leica 1A with Elmar 1:3.5 F = 50 mm van Angela and Prof. Dr. Henning v. Einem’ was a great help for the boxes from the very first years.

Also I used catalogues of these days to determine the year an accessory was taken into production. If I had the original box, then this also gave me an indication of the production year.

3 It is clear that Leitz used different colours/designs at the same time, especially in the seventies until the nineties of the last century.

4 For special and limited editions Leitz used special boxes, for instance for the Gold editions of the M and R cameras. Also for some compact cameras that were manufactured by others, different box types were used.

5 for their own products Leitz New York used their own box types (often dark red with silver letters).

6 Especially in the early periods accessories had a different package. 

Below you will find a table with the type of package, period used and product types they were used for.





Crocodile box Pink, Yellow Orange 

The name of the accessory was printed on a glued on piece of paper


For small accessories. 

Dark red/maroon 

The name of the accessory was printed on a glued on piece of paper

End twenties 

Probably for small accessories and lenses

Dark red/maroon without text

End twenties/ beginning thirties

Probably for small accessories and lenses

Dark red maroon with text (gold)

From first Leica 1a until around 1933 

For cameras and larger accessories like camera cases

Dark red maroon wit text (Silver/grey)

Beginning thirties until around 1933

Probably for small accessories and lenses

Red Thirties

From 1933 to end thirties

For all products


Clear red letters in gold

End thirties until 1956

For many products. Leica III series partially delivered in darker red velvet boxes

Pale light green and crème

1956 until 1961/2

For all products

Light grey/green with black triangle text Leica

1962 until 1965

All products

Dark red white circle with red text

1965 until 1983

All products

Lighter red white circle with red text

1961 until 1988

All products

Beige melange


All products

Red with a narrow white circle with red within the circle 

1970 until 1987

All products

Very dark brown/black with orange circle

1984 until 1990

All products

White Red letters

1983 (1988) - 1995

All products

White with a small red circle Leica with grey blocks becoming darker

1988 - 2001

All products

Black Silver

2000 - present

All products

In the pictures you find the colour/design of the box. Most pictures were made of boxes in my own collection. Some were taken from the Internet (eBay for instance). The picture of box 1 I got from Alan McFall, who gave me consent to use this picture.