I live in Mentor, Ohio (near Cleveland) on the shores of Lake Erie with my wife, Sally, and my son, Andy, who has Down syndrome. Andy is 21 years old (soon to be 22) and is in a vocational training program to help him on his way to independence.
Since I’ve traveled extensively for work, I haven’t been at home long enough to become disgusted by the climate here – see Sally’s blog for a different point of view! As an engineer, I’m fascinated by any kind of mechanical equipment, and I’ve been interested in optics for most of my life – hence, my involvement in photography and lately, amateur astronomy. I’ve been collecting cameras and optical devices since I was a kid.
My collecting interests are fairly unfocused – I like what I like, whether or not it fits into any particular category. But for the sake of dividing the whole pile into a few smaller piles, here are a few areas of interest:
American Cameras made before 1925: these are mostly box cameras and folding bellows models made by Kodak, Ansco, and a whole lot of smaller companies that were eventually bought out by these two. I don’t have a lot of examples, but I’ll be posting some of the good ones eventually.
Japanese, German, and American 35mm Rangefinder Cameras: these cameras have been a point of interest for me from the beginning of my involvement in the hobby. I started in 35mm photography with a Kodak Pony II, switched to an Argus C3 (for the rangefinder focusing), then graduated to a Retina Automatic. Years later, I got a Yashica Electro 35 GSN, one of the most sophisticated fixed-mount 35’s ever designed.
Pre-War German Folding Cameras: I still have one or two of these, and they still attract my interest. They’re harder to find in good condition these days, and I’m not concentrating on finding more of them at the moment, but if I came across something nice at a flea market for a great price, well…..
Kodak and Other American Made Cameras of the 20th Century: I particularly love the cheap cameras that were made in America prior to and shortly after World War 2. Art deco design, bakelite or zinc die cast construction, flashguns with huge reflectors, and silk-screened metal faceplates with interesting designs are typical features that make these cameras worth collecting.
Anything Made by the Universal Camera Corporation (1933-1964): those of us who collect UniveX cameras are somewhat obsessed with this company and its products. You may well wonder why: they’re cheap, sometimes shoddy, won’t accept standard film in most cases, and they will never be considered “Classic Cameras.” However, in 1936, Universal could boast that they were selling more cameras than any other company in the world, and for that reason, their history is worth a look. The real reason, though, is that their Art deco designs and unique features make them some of the coolest cameras ever made, both in form and in function. In the pre-war days, they were incredibly innovative, a subject I’ll be writing about.
I hope you’ll check in regularly to see what’s new, as I pull out cameras from my collection and relate a bit of their background and history along with photos and descriptions of their features. Please post your comments, as I want to hear from you!