F. and S. Marriott

Unit 3A Bridge Court, Old Bridge Road, Hornsea, HU18 1RP, England

Our online catalogue and web site is working pretty well now. I have established a monthly update for most of the catalogue, and this also is working well. I regret that I have still not been able to master photographs for the catalogue - the operation just requires more time than I have available. Most of the faulty links have been eliminated.

Valuing Cameras

A Personal View by Fred Marriott

Introduction

Age

Collecting Interest

Condition

What Makes a Camera Desirable

Original Price

 

Locality

Cine Equipment

Other Photographic Items

Using Ebay

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Introduction

When we are asked about the value of a camera we often make reference to McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, a book so useful we have a copy at home and another in our shop. It is only a guide however - as the author himself expresses it, McKeown's Law states that "The price of an antique camera is entirely dependent upon the moods of the buyer and seller at the time of the transaction". Having said that, there are some rough guidelines which may help to produce an approximate price, especially if taken in conjunction with advice from price guides like McKeown's and from dealers like ourselves.

Age

The age of a camera has no bearing upon its value whatsoever. There is no correlation between a camera being old and a camera being valuable. Thus, the Kodak 2C Brownie may date from somewhere between 1917 and 1934 but it is worth very little - a few pounds in the UK, a few dollars in the US. After all, with production running for about seventeen years, there are a lot of these cameras about, and it is the number of cameras about that has an influence on value, not the age of the camera.

The Olympus Pen W, the wide-angle lens model, was only available for a short time and is therefore scarce. Despite dating from the mid-sixties, some thirty years later than the last 2C Brownie Box camera, it is worth considerably more than the 2C; McKeowns lists it at between $100 and $150, but says prices have gone as high as $250.

Collecting Interest

Another prime determinant of value is the amount of interest there is in a camera. The high value of the Pen W reflects the interest both in half-frame cameras and in Olympus cameras, and this drives the price up.

The interest generated may not be entirely photographic either - the Canon Dial is a highly collected camera (sold in the US under the name Honeywell) for several reasons. First of all, there is collecting interest in the products of Canon. Secondly, it is a half-frame camera. Thirdly, it has spring motor wind - some people collect cameras with certain design features and motor wind is very popular. Fourthly, it has unusual and attractive styling. Finally, it was used as a prop in the popular cult TV series, The Prisoner, and so is sought out by fans of the show. Fortunately it sold well when it was new so prices are still under the hundred pound mark (McKeown's lists it at $65 to $100 dollars, but The Prisoner is not such a cult programme in the US).

Condition

Another important influence on value is condition. This is both the cosmetic condition and the working condition. Even when a collector is going to put a camera in a glass case and never use it, the camera must still be in fully working order if it is to get a premium price. Cosmetic condition is also important - a camera should have no rust or other problems and show only light signs of use. A box or an original case is also helpful, as is a copy of the instructions.

A camera in poor condition, especially if it is not working as well as in poor cosmetic condition, will be worth considerably less than a camera in lightly used and fully working condition. Common cameras in poor condition are likely to have no value at all while even fairly unusual and desirable cameras may be worth less than a tenth of the value for a good specimen.

What Makes a Camera Desirable

There is no doubt that some cameras are more popular than others. Most collectors have to restrict their collecting in some way, usually by choosing a theme for their collection.

Some cameras are highly collectible because of the camera make - Leitz is perhaps the best example of this. Personally I am not a Leica fan but those who are will obsessively collect every 35 mm. camera and accessory they can simply because they were made by Leitz. Other popular makes include Canon, Pentax, Olympus, Zeiss Ikon and Voigtlander. Agfa, Kodak, Polaroid and Minolta also attract some interest.

Bakelite cameras are keenly collected, both by camera collectors and by early plastics enthusiasts.

Some collectors restrict themselves to cameras made for one purpose or format, for example panoramic cameras, stereo cameras, half-frame cameras or Agfa Rapid loading cameras.

Some collectors prefer to collect cameras which can be used. They do not buy cameras which take film that is no longer available, for example 828 roll-film, and they prefer cameras with a rangefinder and/or built-in exposure meter.

Some collectors like unusual cameras, like the Canon Dial or the Agimatic, which has the wind-on mechanism incororated into the shutter release so that one smooth action performs both functions.

Original Price

There is no direct relationship between the original price of a camera and that camera's value now. However, a camera which was expensive will normally have sold in smaller numbers than a cheaper one so the original price can be a guide to how many cameras may have sold.

For example, in 1971 the Rollei 126 Reflex cost over £100 so it is not surprising that there are so few about now (McKeown's lists it at $120 to $180).

The original price is not an absolute guide however. For example, the Minolta 110 Mk 2 Zoom single-lens reflex camera (McKeown's lists it at $150 to $225) was originally over £100 yet I bought my example for £70 new in the early 1980s when the unsold stock was being sold off cheaply.

Locality

Cameras produced by the major camera manufacturers are collected all over the world but those produced by smaller concerns, like for example Kershaw, tend to be more collected in their own country. We get a lot of enquiries about Univex and Revere cameras but only from the US; interest in these cameras in the UK is almost nonexistent. For this reason, it is always best to seek advice from someone local when trying to determine a value for your camera.

Cine Equipment

While the above is all true of cine as well, cine equipment is a special case as there seems to be very little collecting interest in it at present. Even the most dedicated Leitz collectors tend to concentrate on the Leica 35 mm. cameras and ignore the Leicina cine cameras.

The cameras which attract the highest prices are the more modern, high-specification models which are required for use. Sound cameras are falling in value now that sound film is no longer available. They offer a good, low-cost way for someone to get a well specified camera for silent film use, but not all sound cameras will work properly with the smaller silent Super-8 cassette.

I sometimes think I am the only person in the world who collects cine projectors and splicers and even I only keep a few special ones.

Other Photographic Items

We have not encountered any significant collecting interest in darkroom equipment .

There is a lot of interest in images but we are not knowledgeable in this area and cannot advise on anything except Viewmaster.

Similarly, there is a lot of interest in films and film memorabilia but we have no expertise in this area.

Using Ebay

Ebay has a search facility which allows access to recent finished auctions. This can be very helpful in determining a price for items. These instructions apply to ebay.co.uk but I would expect other Ebay sites to be similar. Select "search" frm the navigation tabs at the top of the screen. Then click on "Advanced Search". This allows the selection of "Completed Items Only" Key in your search terms and click the "Completed Items Only" box. Remember that the search looks at the descriptions given by sellers, and they can be mis-spelled so do not give up if you don't get results from your first search.. 

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http://www.marriottworld.com/value.htm (C) F. and S. Marriott