Knowledge is power

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    Pics to come eventually. I had a gut hunch today to stop at my local over-priced junk shop just to browse around. Guy asks if I’m looking for anything in particular, I say I’m just browsing as I notice two box cameras sitting on a shelf behind the counter. One looks like a standard Number 2, the other’s got a green art deco motif and is a little fancier than most I’ve seen. I keep browsing. I open the door to walk out, then turn back to the counter and ask “just out of curiosity, what are you asking for the two box cameras over there?”

    He replies “Well, how about I let you take a look at them first, and we’ll see what we can work out?”
    Either he wants way too much, or he has no earthly idea what they’re worth and wants to see how I react
    He hands me the art deco one first.
    Oh, shit. Metal body. These aren’t your $5 ebay specials.
    I turn it around to get a good look at it.
    Holy fuck. It’s a Beau Brownie. I don’t know what this is worth offhand, but it’s not cheap.
    I twist my face a little. “Hmmm….. It’s a little banged up…..” Shutter is quick and smooth “Ebay’s full of old box cameras like this.” Eh. 116, not 120. Oh, hey. There’s a roll of film still in here. “Most sell for $5 or $10 in good shape. The metal ones will sell a little more, but this is pretty beat up. I can give you $5 for it.”
    He looks disappointed. Crap. Was my lowball too low? then he says “Can you do ten?” SCORE!
    “I can meet you in the middle at seven.”
    “Deal. How about this other one?” Eh. It looks like an old model 2. I don’t need another of those. Yup. Sure is. Agfa cadet number 2.
    “Oh. It’s an old number 2. They made millions of these, they’re a dime a dozen. Five bucks on ebay.” I hand it back to him. He digs around a bit, pulls out a Polaroid 150 and says “Are you interested in an old polaroid?”
    No. I’ve got a whole box of those at home. $2 a piece at a flea market. They stopped making the film for those in 1967 and they’re a pain in the butt to convert to anything newer.”
    “Oh. I see. Well, if I come across any other old cameras, I’ll set them up here in the same spot where these were.”

    So I get home and do my research. As I was fairly certain, the Beaus are extremely rare due to their initial selling cost (they had a doublet and metal bodies!), and were only made from 1930-1933. Furthermore, the green ones and pink ones are even rarer, as they were only made for an eight month period in 1930-1931. And the 116s are apparently nigh-on non-existent. So I break out the ebay-fu. There’s one recently sold green Beau Brownie for $260.75 and one currently listed green Beau Brownie with 11 bids and a current price of $300 even.


    Nice find! Now go buy the guy lunch–he deserves it. The poor thing!


    Nice find, indeed! It’s hard to imagine a shop owner not doing a little research to find out what his wares are worth. Almost like an Antiques Roadshow episode where someone picks up an ugly vase for $5 at a garage sale and it ends up being worth thousands.


    It’s a really pretty little camera and *i* even devised a way to convert it to 120. Okay, orionid did, but it was my idea that started it.

    He also forgot to mention there is a roll of exposed film in the camera that we’re going to develop at some point and see what’s on it!


    Schweet!! I cannot wait to see some good pictures so I know what to look for. Like one will ever show up here for cheap.


    I used to scour the San Diego antique stores looking for oldies but goodies like this, but all they ever had were the cheap $5 ebay items for $25 🙁 Need to give this new area a try, but awesome find!


    My wife and I like to go antiquing. It’s always great when we go somewhere and the prices are what we’d like them to be. You know we’ll never be back to the place when we say to each other “They price it like they know what they have.” We’ve got a bunch of old old old cameras on shelved in the living room with B&W shots I took of barns in frames near them. I guaran-damn-tee we don’t have anything like what you’ve described, but we like our little collection of Brownies.

    BTW – if you ever get Rochester way, I’ll get you to the George Eastman house. They’ve got this one room with a camera collection that would have orionid turgid for days. (By “you” I mean any of you regulars… just PM me.)

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