Collectible Cameras

collectable cameras

From Daguerreotype to Digital the images that surround us and the cameras that produce them have come a long way since the 'beginnings' of photography in 1839.

Though it would be nice to discover a Leica or other big name (though not all Leicas are terribly expensive) many collectors are 'focusing'on the more affordable makes of camera produced throughout the twentieth century. As both decorative and functional items (if you can still get the film) they make the perfect hobby.

 There are a vast number of makers and different format cameras to choose from as the basis for a collection and prices to suit every pocket. Some of the more prominent collecting categories include miniature cameras, bakelite-bodied, rangefinder, folding, stereo,falling plate, cine, spy, box,
Polaroids, the classics such as Leica and Voigtlander, and toy cameras and projectors. There is even a Swedish club for collectors of the Kodak Instamatic 126.

collectible cameras

There are some wonderful novelty and rare cameras which command many thousands of pounds and Christie's South Kensington currently hold the world record price for a camera at auction - a staggering £55,750. On the other hand there are many thousands of well known old cameras which can be picked up for less than £10 and we all know there are enough box Brownies around for every Boy Scout to have one.

Photographic accessories are also avidly collected- light meters which were first introduced in the late 1880s, developing tanks, flash guns, tripods, darkroom paraphenalia such as lamps, dishes and plate racks and of course lenses.

Sets of lenses can sometimes rival and exceed prices for even the most valuable cameras. A set of Leitz lenses made during the Second World War, which were very rare indeed, fetched £21,000 at Christie's in January of 1999.   Very early cine camera projectors can also be worth thousands of pounds. A Birtac Cine was estimated at auction recently for £3,000-6,000.

collectible cameras

This year marks a couple of important anniversaries in the world of collectable cameras. The first Kodak Brownie was issued 100 years ago in 1900, the Canon trademark is 65 years old and the Leica camera (introduced by Oscar Barnack and using 35 mm film) celebrates three quarters of a century in production.

From an earlier age of photography most people will be familiar with large and quite bulky wooden cameras - the wood usually being mahogany and attractively combined with brass fittings (mahogany was preferred as it didn't warp easily).

The majority of cameras from c.1880-1910 were British, including such makers as Sanderson and Lancaster but what really brought the camera to the masses was the introduction of celluloid roll film and the development of the roll film camera by George Eastman (Kodak) in 1889.

collectible cameras

Prior to this the photographer would have had to have some ability as a chemist to produce images using wet and dry plate photography but with Kodak developing the film the photographic hobby became both attainable and affordable.

  If you are going to develop a serious interest in collecting cameras then books on the subject and other reference resources will be vital. Fortunately there is plenty of help out there - from books and price listings such as the annual Hove International Blue book to some of the latest titles such as 'The Collectors Guide to Classic Cameras 1945 - 1985' by John Wade.

Specialist books and publications will give you a feel for what's a real rarity (and the reasons why) and having an interest in photography generally moves you on to becoming a collector of cameras or other photographic equipment and ephemera. This might include old photo wallets with advertising, old slides, prints and photo albums for example.

collectible cameras

 Combined with the current interest and high prices at auction for    historically and artistically important photographs you can see why more people than ever are looking at the camera and the images it produces in a  collecting light.

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