The moral of this post is this, simply put, in a nutshell: Some deals are just too good to pass up. Despite routinely hearing myself say [i.e., when entering a flea market, rummage sale, antique store], "I don't need another camera--Lord knows, the last thing I need is another camera," I often manage to leave with one more. Or two. Or three.
But like I said to start, some deals are just too good to pass up. Other times it just strikes me as really wrong to leave certain cameras in certain places where they won't be appreciated or even taken out for a test-drive. Case in point: We stopped into a really flea-bitten shop while in Delaware last week and I noticed immediately that the owner's prices on cameras were really (and I mean really) reasonable. Most of the cameras on display were still in decent condition but they were ones I already had. And since they weren't cameras that I loved so much that I felt the need to have spares or back-ups for (unlike, for instance, the Ultronic Panoramic, Diana 151 or anything made by the Herbert George Co), I decided to follow Chris around the crowded shop. As usual, there came the point in the visit when Chris asked about oddball film, other cameras and/or darkroom supplies. The shop owner said he had some darkroom stuff (if I recall, he described an old wooden enlarger. . .yum) but he said that it sold really quickly. He then added that he still had a Speed Graphic stored back in the closet. Bingo. And be still my heart. I had just gotten a Crown Graphic and I really wanted a Speed Graphic too, primarily because, well, as I reasoned, you just can't have too many of those.
A short while later, the owner brings out the case shown above. The case though in really, really shabby condition, was packed with stuff--mainly lightbulbs and misc projector bulbs. Both top compartments of the case were filled with Sylvania blue dot bulbs (I have to admit, I had hoped there would be film stuffed in these compartments), maybe 20 or so. The case also contained a Crown (not Speed) Graphic that was more or less in excellent condition save for a sticky-ish shutter and lens that was in need of cleaning. The bellows looked to be in mint condition. It came with the flash attachment as well the Kalart Rangefinder and Focuspot. I noted the original price on the case, but had a strong sense that this was not the best price. Sure enough. The seller was willing to let it all go for 80 bucks. Sold.
Another of my favorite spring break finds was this old 1897 No. 2 Bulls-eye Kodak box camera. The outside is in pretty rough shape but the shutter, bulb setting and aperture pull-up lever are all in working order. The camera takes 101 film, but I think I can achieve some kind of work-around using custom-cut photo paper or 120 film. The camera is missing the film wind/advance lever on top, so we'll have to find a work-around for that too. Needless to say, I'm really eager to take this one for a test-spin.
As I mentioned to start, there are certain cameras I just can't pass up--like anything made by Herbert George. We found (in the same shop we found the 1897 camera) an Imperial Six-Twenty (see image left). The price on this was reasonable (6 bucks), so this one came home with us as well.
Old expired b/w film (especially Kodak Verichrome Pan) is also almost always a "must-buy" for us, provided the prices aren't outrageous. Using old film can be a really crap shoot since you often have no way of knowing how it has been stored, where it's been, etc. We found the three rolls pictured above (with expiration dates of 1949, 1956 and 1957) in a shop in Cambridge, MD. I think we paid 8 bucks for the lot. It would have been great to pay 3, but what can you do? At least they weren't asking 10 bucks a roll, as is often the case when shopping/searching online.