The first experimental Leica cameras are known as UR Leicas. UR is the Leitz code name for these experimental models and is a German prefix meaning "original or primitive". Barnack built at least three UR Leicas, the first one from 1913 survives complete with lens in the Leitz museum in Wetzlar. It is known that Barnack experimented with several different commercially available lenses on this model, but none of them were used in production cameras.
At least two more UR Leicas were produced. The second one has been lost and no photographs exist. The third model made about 1918-20 survives in the Leitz museum, but has no lens. This model has many differences from the first model. For example, the UR model had only a single fixed shutter speed, but model three had several shutter speeds similar to those found on production Leicas.
The three UR Leicas are unique and were never intended for commercial sale, but from the 1970s onwards Leitz made replica UR Leica cameras for collectors. Because there is no single definitive UR Leica, the replicas have models 1 and 3 features. Some of these replicas were non-functioning dummy display models, but some were designed as functioning cameras.
The UR replica in the Photographic History Collection is a working model with lens. The camera has the Leitz Wetzlar logo on the back and the words Nachbildung der Ur-Leica (replica of the original Leica) on the top plate.
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