I like Wilmette, Illinois, for cameras at garage sales.
I don’t always find a camera for sale, sometimes a camera was sold before I showed up at a sale. Sometimes people tell me they sold a camera the day before. But I know the cameras are there, literally stuffed in a box in someone’s garage. Let me explain.
Saturday August 27, 2011 was a nice day for garage sales. Beautiful blue skies in Chicagoland. A perfect day not to go fishing (my other pastime). But I’ve learned that “blue sky” fishing is hard for me, but garage sales are much easier. Let me explain my garage sale adventures today, backwards in time.
Skokie Illinois on Crawford Avenue
I finished my Saturday as I often do, driving southbound on Crawford Avenue looking for garage sale signs. This was my 2nd to the last stop, although I didn’t know it at the time.
A yard sale where the conversation went down a familiar path after I saw they only had two cheap point and shoot Chinese cameras.
Rich – Do you have any other cameras.
Jody – Well, actually I do. They belonged to my grandmother. I wouldn’t want to sell them.
Rich – That’s OK, I’d just like to see them. I love looking at old cameras. (It’s actually the truth on my part. It’s good practice seeing old cameras and telling people about their cameras. Sometimes, they decide they like me and sell the camera anyway. But that’s optional.)
Jody – If you wait 5 minutes I’ll get them.
I said thank you and Jody returned in 5 minutes with a box of cheap cameras from perhaps the 50′s and 60′s. But one Polaroid might have been worth something and I told her so. There also was a Chicago made camera from perhaps the 60′s (plastic). I told her the Kodak Signet might still work and that the Kodak Duaflex was fun to look into (great viewfinder) I thanked Jody, chatted with the other ladies for a while and went home. It was very nice of Jody to show me her grandmother’s cameras.
Bent Park (Evanston or Wilmette) and a Petri Camera
Going backwards in time, 15 minutes before seeing Jody’s grandmother, I was going southbound on Crawford just after it begins near Evanston/Wilmette. I saw a garage sale sign and turned left quickly. I found two yard sales in a row, then realized Bent Park had yard sales scattered around the park.
I needed the walk so I strolled around the park, purchased lemonade from a kid’s stand (I always do that) and came to someone’s little yard sale. A bunch of old jewelry and a few books. You know how the conversation goes…
Rich – Do you have any old film cameras. (It always takes a moment for people to realize I mean film, not digital.)
Lady – I think I have one inside. It was my father’s. I wouldn’t want to sell it.
Rich – Will you show it to me? I love old cameras.
Lady – OK. I’ll be back in a minute.
Rich – I’ll watch the store for you. (It amazes me that people trust me with your stuff and walk away. I’ve always had a trustworthy face and demeanor. I guess it’s because I really am trustworthy.)
I stand in the shade waiting for her. This isn’t a bad way to spend a free Saturday. I’d rather look at old cameras than sit in a boat and not catch fish.
She brings out a camera in a small leather fitting cover marked Petri. Before even opening the bag I tell her it’s a Petri Color 35 camera. She’s surprised/impressed when I open the bag and display a Petri Color 35 camera.
I tell her I knew it because I own a Petri Color 35, only its in better shape. Her Petri is missing some of its vinyl covering and has possible fungus on the lens. I discuss the camera with her and tell her many people valued the Petri Color 35 for its neat design.
Rich – Thanks for showing me your Petri camera.
Lady – Thanks for explaining the camera to me.
Rich – My pleasure. Good luck with your sale.
Wilmette, Illinois – Olympus XA and a Mamiya Sekor 1000
Again, going back in time for this Saturday, this was my 2nd garage sale stop. I actually saw the sign once and couldn’t find the sale. I saw the sign again and found the house.
A beautiful large house with something for sale in every room and backyard.
I’ve stopped trying to be coy about cameras. Last year I would have talked about Lincoln books and then mentioned cameras. But I’ve given up that subterfuge. I’m direct, pleasant but direct.
I walked to the enclosed porch and asked the ladies at the table if they had any film cameras for sale. A man was next to them and took over. A very nice guy as it turned out.
Rich – Do you have any film cameras?
Owner – Yes, I think I do. They might be in the garage?
Literally, he walks me to the garage, goes to a corner and looks in a few boxes, and then pulls a box out. He walks the box into the sunshine and places it on a table. Now it’s my turn to look into it.
The box contains a Nikon point and shoot, a black plastic case with an Olympus XA and 2 flashes, and a Mamiya/Sekor 1000 camera in its old battered, leather case. I put the Olympus XA away because I don’t want to seem too excited about it. I knew the Nikon point and shoot was generic, the Olympus XA could be in very good shape because the lens was clean but the batteries were dead (can’t test the light meter). The Mamiky/Sekor was missing a small part on the rewind level. I did tell the owner I had been looking for an old Mamiya/Sekor SLR.
Rich – How much do you want for them (all 3 cameras).
Owner - How much are they worth?
Rich – I’ll do my best to tell you what the cameras are worth. But I want you to know I bargain hard on cameras.
That question always puts me at a disadvantage. A seller wants me to tell him how much his cameras are worth. I’m not one to lie so I just tell people what I know.
Rich – The Nikon isn’t worth much if anything. It’s generic. The Olympus XA looks to be in good shape but we don’t know if its light meter works because we don’t have batteries. The Olympus XA, tested with a roll of film and fresh batteries, probably will sell on eBay for a solid $50 with a good write-up. The Mamiya/Sekor might sell for $20 on eBay. Again, you need to do your eBay write ups.
Gregg showed me how to use the Mamiya/Sekor (spot metering ?) and showed me a missing part from the camera and how to deal with it. Nice conversation. Gregg didn’t offer to sell it so I made the first move.
A Brief Negotiation
I’m at a slight advantage in my camera negotiations lately. I really don’t need any more cameras. I can bargain hard and politely because its fun. If you really don’t need the next camera, then you own that camera negotiation.
Rich – I’ll give you $20 for the Olympus XA and the Mamiya Sekor.
Owner – Make it $25 and I’ll toss in the Nikon camera (the inexpensive point and shoot).
Rich – Deal.
Gregg’s Mamiya/Sekor 1000
The owner’s name was Gregg. Nice man.
Inside we introduced each other, he offered me a soft drink (thank you), and I purchased a tripod from him for $10. I didn’t care to bargain on that one. I need a working tripod.
But then Gregg told me something about his Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL.
Forty years earlier, as a young man, Gregg had used the Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL to photograph a young Muhammad Ali at a political rally in Kansas City (early 70′s). Using a 50mm lens, Gregg photographed Muhammad Ali from less than 10 feet away. Amazing.
Even more amazing, the owner showed me his 4 photos of Muhammad Ali in his photo collection.
Here’s hoping Gregg emails me his 4 Muhammad Ali photos taken with the Mamiya/Sekor 1000 DTL forty years ago. If the fish are biting and nearby, I’d rather be fishing. But on a blue sky summer day in Wilmette, Illinois, garage sales sound like fun to me.
Thanks for visiting What is a Film Camera today. I hope this post wasn’t too long. Sometimes the stories just tell themselves.