If you’re from Chicago, keep in mind the Old Town Triangle Garage Sale day sometime in July. It takes place around Bastille Day (the French national holiday for the storming of the Bastille in 1789).
The Old Town Triangle is wealthy now but when my friend Tom grew up in that area in the early 1960’s, it wasn’t so affluent. Today I’m looking for cameras while Tom is looking for everything else (he purchased a ukelele, fabric print, and an atlas today).
The people were very nice but there weren’t as many garage sales as I had expected. But I did see some nice cameras today. (I absolutely promise, the next time I do a garage sale post, I’ll take some photos.)
Camera collecting is fun even when you don’t buy cameras
Today at the Old Town Triangle garage sales I had the pleasure of hearing some nice camera stories and seeing some nice cameras. No purchases today. But collecting cameras is a nice excuse to say hello to people, enjoy a sunny day, and talk about cameras and life.
Do you have any film cameras in the house?
Those are the magic words if you’re a camera collector at a garage sale. People forget to place their film cameras out for sale because film cameras have slipped to the back of their memories. They shoot with digital and are shocked when people say they collect cameras.
Do you have any film cameras? Do you have any cameras in the house? No, not digital cameras, film cameras.
After I ask the first question I can sometimes see people recollecting that they own some film cameras. I can see them “remembering” their cameras, their eyes look a bit different.
I also say and mean the phrase:
Even if you don’t want to sell your cameras, I’d love to see them.
My wife thinks that comment is a bit weird. Maybe she’s right. But I just enjoy seeing old cameras, seeing if they work, whether I buy them or not. When I’m lucky, people are willing to sell their cameras.
Do you have any old vinyl records in your house?
My friend Tom is amazed at how just asking to see old cameras “in the house” is working. I think one day he’ll use my same line just to ask if they have old vinyl records in their house.
A Retired Journalist Shows me His Nikons
I met a woman in a garage selling a few items. The “Do you have any cameras in the house?”, question yielded her answer. She’d check with her husband inside.
At first he brought out his digital cameras. I mentioned I was interested in film cameras. Then he brought out his Nikons. He brought out two Nikons in excellent condition: Nikon FG and Nikon N8008.
This was a beautiful camera. The photo shown below is from Camerapedia’s write-up on the Nikon FG.
The garage sale Nikon FG I saw and the photo shown above were the same. It was a beautiful camera with three Nikon lenses (50mm, 28mm, 80-200mm zoom). To be honest, I didn’t memorize the lens sizes because I knew I couldn’t afford this camera. It was cool to the touch from being nicely air-conditioned in its home, the battery worked, and it was gorgeous.
The camera’s story evolved. The owner was a retired journalist for the Chicago Tribune. (Sorry, I’m not mentioning his name.) He was a journalist, not a photographer. But obviously he had great equipment with him as a journalist.
I had to ask, but did so gently.
Do you have any interest in selling one of these cameras?
The owner thought just a moment and said no. He hadn’t thought about selling them and thought he would keep them. If I had a business card I would have given it to him. But I’ll visit him next year to see if he wants to sell those cameras!
The camera seemed familiar. When I researched it at home it all came back to me. I had seen the same type of camera two or three weeks before. It felt familiar in my hands because it was the “son” of my Nikon EM from decades ago.
The retired journalist also had a Nikon N8008. Again, it was beautiful, cool to the touch (air conditioned), and had a good battery. It was ready to take photos and had the three “usual” lenses (50mm, 28mm, 80-200 zoom lens). Here’s a photo from Camera-Wiki on the Nikon N8008.
It was a pleasure visiting with this retired journalist and seeing his beautiful cameras. Next year I’ll return in hopes of purchasing his Nikon FG. If he doesn’t want to sell it, I”ll understand. It’s beautiful.
The Brother-in-Law’s Lubitel 166
Two hundred paces from the retired journalist’s home I found a Lubitel 166. It looked almost like the one shown below from Wikipedia, except I think the used one I saw was missing the bottom lens ring.
Yes, even seeing an old camera is a pleasure. I had never seen a Lubitel 166 and I knew something about them. A decent TLR made in Russia. If it was available for sale I’d make an offer on it.
Would you consider selling it?
The owner said his brother-in-law gave it to him as a gift. I immediately said:
Keep it. Don’t sell it. It was a gift from your brother-in-law.
This turned out to be a wise thing to say since his wife was behind the table watching the entire transaction. It was her brother who gave the camera to the owner.
Two Canons, Not for Sale
Ten feet from the Lubitel 166 I found a Canon AE-1 and Canon EOS Elan 7, possibly for sale.
This is another case where asking, “Do you have any cameras inside your house?”, yielded two cameras for me to inspect.
The Canon AE-1 was in good condition but then you can never really tell unless you have a battery to test them. It had a 50mm lens. The owner clearly planned on keeping the AE-1.
The owner also had a Canon EOS Elan 7. I knew I had one at home (shame on me, as yet untested). So I didn’t need a Canon EOS Elan 7. Again, I’m hesitant to purchase any camera that needs a battery for testing, you should feel the same way.
The owner wanted to keep his Canon AE-1. He would have sold his Canon EOS Elan 7 for the right price. I chose not to make an offer.
A Good Day at the Old Town Triangle Garage Sale
It was a good day. Altogether I saw 7 cameras, but no purchases. I met some nice people and learned more about cameras and how they work.