Being a self-confessed collector of, among other things, cameras, I don’t think it’s actually possible to pin-point one favourite item from this book, as each individual piece has its own merits. Whereas some collectors feel the need to attain every single manufactured piece from certain companies or ‘must have’ that ludicrously expensive antique, the beauty of the Retromania collection is that just about every camera in it is easily obtainable at affordable prices – most being discovered in charity shops or grandad’s attic.
And that’s the thing – these ‘gems’ pop up everywhere.
Both are valid, both have been manufactured in similar material, both started life on the designer’s drawing board and made it into production. The difference is that one was made by one of the biggest photographic companies of all time, with almost infinite resources, whilst the other by a company that made audio equipment and has plunged into the obscurity abyss. (Mind you, the same could be said of Kodak as we approach 2013 – who would have thought?)
Another “find” was at a garage sale locally where, encased in a filthy battered original box, was a truly immaculate, mint-condition Halina Prefect camera that seemed to radiate even more when we photographed it, almost as if it was relieved to be released from its dingy dungeon.
The Argus C3 sticks in my mind, not just because it is such a whacky piece with all those scientific dials, but because it had a production run over almost 3 decades and sold more than 2 million units.
What also makes items ‘special’ is when they’re found complete with manuals, in the original packaging. An Ilford Sprite ‘gift pack’ found in a house clearance was one such piece. The box was clean and still contained original, unopened film. They sold tens of thousands of these (normally during the summer holidays at the seafront) and yet I’d wager that very few exist, complete, in the boxes.
Two other items worthy of mention – certainly because of the allure of the packaging – are the Lomo Lubitel purchased way back in the 1980s in a photographic shop in Clapham and the glossily illustrated “Cine Vue” found in a junk shop.
You’ll never know what you can unearth until you start looking …