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Thread: Vintage Large Format Camera Values What are they really?

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    Vintage Large Format Camera Values What are they really?

    I recently posted on a Vintage Camera Collectible web site. They had posted an interview with someone who is supposed to be an expert on Vintage Cameras. In addition they had a question and answer section so users could ask the Author/Expert questions.

    So I recently bought a 1907-1916 model 8 x 10 Wooden Century No. 2, I thought I would ask what the approximate value might be? If it was collectible? What I should and should not do to it functionally and cosmetically because of how it might affect its value?

    The Expert Author/Collector made a statement and said the Century Camera No. 2 that I own was pretty common and that He has seen them in totally beautiful condition for a very low price of $250.00

    I found that interesting because I have priced replacing the bellows on my camera and the cost is somewhere between $250 and $500. I really bought this camera to use and make functional and it was not my intent to do a restoration on it, but considering its vintage, I thought it was worth the effort to check into its value as a collectors item. I also have been researching this camera for about a month now on the web and various other sources. I have yet to find another of the same model and vintage for sale. Since the information about value and commonality presented by this Expert/Author was contrary to anything I have found so far, I posted a follow up question in regard to where I could find information on how many of this model was made? I also wanted to know where I could buy one for around the figure he mentioned because it would be a lot less than replacing my bellows and I would save a lot of time not having to refinish my wood and cleaning up and resealing my hardware.

    In other words I was seeking validation and clarification of what this Expert/Author was claiming. If the approximate price range or value of the camera I own happens to be different, posting incorrect of misinformation about it can adversely affect its value. I also find it very irresponsible for any web site to represent itself as a collectors information website and then post incorrect or misinformation. One would think that would feel an obligation to correct any misinformation on their web site in order to preserve accuracy for their readers/users.

    Ironically my follow up post/question has been deleted twice now by the forum moderator.

    What this experience tells is me is that when dealing with Vintage Camera's, values, and how collectible they are, you need to use as many resources as possible. You also need to be aware that a lot of Experts are self proclaimed even if they are well known and do not always provide correct or even accurate information.

    So the question is what information can you really trust and where do you find it?

    Honestly I have no idea!

    Jason

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    Re: Vintage Large Format Camera Values What are they really?

    The century is pretty common, but a refurb 8x10 with new bellows I suspect would bring over $500. Not sure where the $250 figure comes from, unless that's what he PAYS for one as a dealer...
    Jack
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    Re: Vintage Large Format Camera Values What are they really?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    The century is pretty common, but a refurb 8x10 with new bellows I suspect would bring over $500. Not sure where the $250 figure comes from, unless that's what he PAYS for one as a dealer...
    Jack I appreciate your comments. My question remains, if they are pretty common then why can't I seem to find another of the same model and vintage. There appears to be several models of Century Camera built models including those that were mounted on the large and heavy tables that were used in studios back in the day. Unfortunately there is very limited information in regard to the Century No. 2 Wooden 8 x 10 field camera. I seem to be told they are common cameras but I am confused as to why I have not been able to find any others besides the one I bought on auction for sale. I do understand they were work horses in their day.

    The best price I have been able to find so far on a Bellows Replacement comes from Turner Bellows in NY who quoted me $325. I noticed that Turner has been in business for a long time and makes replacement bellows for Bessler as well. The price they quoted includes me sending in my camera and Turner replacing the Bellows and Shipping the camera back to me. The next best price I could find was $500 and that would be based on me installing the New Bellows.

    What is significant to me is that these camera's were the forerunner model to the Kodak 2D. In fact the Kodak 2D seems to almost seem identical except for the thumbscrews that are used to attach and secure the front and rear extension bed rails. Maybe that is where the confusion comes in and why they are claimed to be common, but what is important to remember is that this camera was the last to carry the Century name and not the Eastman name or Kodak. In fact the 1902 patent number existed prior to George Eastman buying into the company and acquiring controlling share. I also see this as a possible Landmark to George Eastman's entrance into the manufacturer and ownership of Large Format Camera Manufacturing. Of course I could be totally wrong but I have not found any information to the contrary.

    When I consider that possibility, it makes me wonder what Henry Ford's first automobiles are worth today and how significant they were and are to the industry.

    Jason
    Last edited by ComicDom1; 30th September 2010 at 19:54.

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    Re: Vintage Large Format Camera Values What are they really?

    Jason, cameras of that general type are still easy to find. And since demand for examples in anything other than pristine original condition is primarily from users, rather than collectors, the relative scarcity of one particular model vs another and their respective historical positions in the line of product development have little impact on the market value. From a user perspective, it's one big pool of more or less interchangeable cameras.

    I have a Century in whole plate format. I bought it in decrepit condition and paid Richard Ritter to restore it. If I should ever sell, I will not get back the money I have invested in it. But in return for my troubles I have a nice user-camera that is beautiful to boot. I'm happy.

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    Re: Vintage Large Format Camera Values What are they really?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    Jason, cameras of that general type are still easy to find. And since demand for examples in anything other than pristine original condition is primarily from users, rather than collectors, the relative scarcity of one particular model vs another and their respective historical positions in the line of product development have little impact on the market value. From a user perspective, it's one big pool of more or less interchangeable cameras.

    I have a Century in whole plate format. I bought it in decrepit condition and paid Richard Ritter to restore it. If I should ever sell, I will not get back the money I have invested in it. But in return for my troubles I have a nice user-camera that is beautiful to boot. I'm happy.
    I met Richard in August when I took a trip to Vermont with my Zone VI. I am curious did Richard do a nice job on your camera. From the little I know about him he seems to know what he is doing. My goal of course it to get my camera in good user shape so I can get my feet wet with 8 x 10. If I can do it all for $800 or less I think I am golden.

    Jason

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    Re: Vintage Large Format Camera Values What are they really?

    Here are some pictures of another Century I finally found on auction except that the Buy it now price is $1200.00 It comes with a lens, shutter, and some film holders which mine did not. I do not believe its the same model as mine because mine has a round emblem on the front that is possibly made from Ivory with black writing on it that says Century No. 2

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Century-Patent-J...item4835ffbb95

    Jason

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    Re: Vintage Large Format Camera Values What are they really?

    Quote Originally Posted by ComicDom1 View Post
    I am curious did Richard do a nice job on your camera.
    Yes. The camera I sent him was a beater - cosmetically ugly and mechanically rough, with some of the controls frozen. The one I got back is beautiful and functions smoothly. He completely disassembled the camera, obtained a new bellows, remodeled the front standard (at my request) to accept a modern lensboard type, refinished the wood and metal parts, and finally reassembled the camera and adjusted everything for good function.

    I had to wait a few months - it took a while for the bellows to arrive, and Richard tends to juggle a bunch of projects, fitting in bits of work as convenient and efficient for him. The result was worth the wait.

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