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Austria: One of world's oldest cameras auctioned for nearly euro590,000
26 May 2007

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - A camera that may be one of the world's oldest -- dating back to 1839 and to the first days of photography -- was auctioned off in Vienna Saturday for euro588,613 (US$792,333).

The camera, a Daguerreotype by Susse Freres of France, went to an anonymous online bidder, the Vienna gallery and auction house WestLicht said in a statement. Bids were made from around the world, including Korea, Japan, the United States and France. The starting price was euro100,000 (US$134,610).

According to WestLicht, it is the world's most expensive and oldest commercially produced camera. It was found in an attic in Germany by Wolfgang Haase, a professor.

WestLicht director Peter Coeln told Austrian radio he was shocked when he first saw the piece.

"I was of course shocked because every camera dealer dreams of one day owning a Daguerreotype camera," he said.

Coeln said the camera weighed about five or six kilograms (11 to 13 pounds), was made of soft wood and was likely to have been built before August 1839.

"It was clear to me straight away that this was a camera from the first year of photography," he said.
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