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By Ed Chop

Have you been a photographer since film was popular? Or are you one who has only used digital cameras? Either way, you may be intrigued by the older film camera designs. Why not take your hobby in another direction and collect old cameras?

Don’t just buy and collect any old camera, though. Collect cameras that have some appeal to you. Are they unique, well-designed, big, small, boxes, folding, shiny, colorful or just neat? You can limit yourself to one particular type of camera or a brand, or even a specific era. You can have several different categories, as I have.

Get the cameras in the best condition you can find, or, at least, afford. The value of a camera will drop dramatically as the condition falls below mint or excellent condition. But don’t dismay. There are more very well preserved cameras out there than you think. You just have to look. Besides, most cameras collected have been used and show some wear, so they don’t have to be mint. You don’t want cameras in poor condition, either.

Whatever you find interesting can be a basis for your collecting. For instance, I have begun a collection of 110 Instamatic cameras. Not just any Instamatic, mind you, but, unique; mostly advertising or logo cameras. For example, I have an M&M 110 Instamatic with a colorful logo and artwork on the camera, complete with a cloth case made to look like an M&M bag!

When you acquire a camera or decide you want a particular one, spend some time learning about it. When was it made? How long did they make it? Who did it appeal to? How good was it? You will soon begin to find information that interests you about each camera in your collection. When you learn about a camera, it becomes more than just a decorative knickknack on your shelf.

That brings me to the next topic. Show your stuff! Don’t pack your cameras in boxes and shove them into a closet. Get a curio cabinet or shelf and display them. Sure, the hunt is half the fun, but display those trophies!









My favorite source for camera collecting information is McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique & Classic Cameras. It’s pricey, but it’s huge! The current edition has 1248 pages and over 40,000 cameras listed, many with photos. There are plenty of descriptions and history for most of the cameras. It also includes other photo related items such as toys and jewelry. They also publish a book just on Kodak cameras. McBroom’s Camera Bluebook is also a favorite of collectors. It, too, covers a wide range of cameras with descriptions and more detailed pricing related to condition. However, the latest edition is out of date, being published in 2000.
Okay, that should get you started. In future articles, we’ll look at the history of photography and examine specific cameras.

Editor and Webmaster - Edward Chop. Your comments and questions are welcomed.
Copyright © 2008 Edward Chop. All Rights Reserved.

The Joy of Camera Collecting

Here's my collection on display.

You don’t have to restrict your collecting to cameras, either. There’s plenty of advertising items, novelty items, and toys all related to photography. And don’t forget photographs, themselves. You can collect original numbered prints, signed prints or just old photos. Collect old daguerreotypes, stereos or postcards, for example. Confine your collecting to a certain subject, if you like.

Whatever you decide, you can surely find others collecting, too. Do a Google search on "photography collecting" and you’ll get over 8 million selections ("camera collecting" gets over 10M)!

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