This is what sixty bucks worth of junk looks like:
OK, so I admit, I have a problem. I like to go on eBay and type “vintage camera” into the search bar and see what comes up. And I sort by time remaining, so invariably an interesting camera or two will pop up with 3 or 4 minutes remaining, but at a tantalizingly low price. And I’ll throw up a bid to see what sticks. And then after winning, re-read the item description more carefully and realize why the price was so low.
Or the other thing that pops up is a vintage camera lot. With a not-completely clear picture of a bunch of cameras that look interesting and some other identifiable stuff and Hey! it’s only at 60 bucks – I wonder if…” And then the email from eBay, “You won!!! Sixty bucks worth of junk is on its way RIGHT NOW!!!”
It’s fun to open the box when it arrives too. Old cameras have a certain smell – partly just “old attic” but also something else. Dusty family albums and old memories, cheesy black-and-white TV commercials. Usually there are a couple of old gems in there, occasionally even with a roll of undeveloped film inside. Maybe a broken camera or two, some junk, but always something to redeem the purchase.
But this last shipment was pretty much just junk. Kind of like someone else bought 3 or 4 “vintage camera lots” and discarded all of the broken or useless stuff and made a new “vintage camera lot” just for me. OK so maybe I exaggerate. But here’s what I ended up with:
Three cheap plastic cameras with cases. A Bell & Howell “Electric Eye.” A couple of banged up box cameras and a bakelite “Brownie Holiday Flash” An Ansco Rediflex. A few boxes of flashbulbs and cubes. Some outdated developer concentrate marked clearance for 94 cents. Strangely, a box of index tabbing. You know – for manila folders. A safelight and spare bulb. A box of metal lens hoods for unidentified cameras. Some 35mm slide masks. So you can make your own slides. A Sears exposure meter. Two plastic 35mm developing tanks, one of which has the reel still enclosed in plastic, with a 1978 receipt for $1.98 plus shipping from New York’s “Garden Camera” to Mr. Arthur Ivey of DeWitt Michigan. Two unidentified flash attachments, an old metal Brownie Six-20 with is own flash attachment still in the original box. Then, a 1938-ish Falcon, and two decent-looking 35mm cameras from the 60s with built-in light meters and decent looking lenses.
Sadly, the last three cameras don’t work, and all the other cameras seem to work, but range in value from about $1 to $10 (on a good day). I can use the developing tank and spool myself. So then I spent the better part of a day trying to repair the shutters on the two 35mm cameras. One, a Tower 18B, ended up in the trash. The other, a Minolta Minoltina-S, I got working within an hour or so. It cleaned up nicely and is valued at between 40 and 60 bucks. See? I got my money’s worth.
And while I figure out what to do with all of this junk, let me do a quick search on eBay for “vintage cameras.” You never know….