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Rare Argus Camera

Subject: The "rare" camera.....
                                    Date: Sat, 16 Aug 1997 19:06:12 -0700
                                    From: "Stephen Lyons"
                                    
                                    I have recently noticed a lot of indiscriminate use of the word "rare" as
                                    applied to particular 35mm cameras. For instance, there is an ongoing
                                    newsgroup discussion in which the Minolta XK Motor, not especially a common
                                    item admittedly, is being described as exceedingly "rare". Since with
                                    virtually no difficulty at all, I have been able to find 3 of these today
                                    being offered for sale (all at tremendously inflated prices, this being
                                    defended by the sellers as owing to their being so "rare"), it strikes me
                                    that the notion of what is really rare has become rather corrupted.
                                    
                                    My idea of a rare 35mm camera is one that is a bona fide collectible but
                                    that in all my years of going to shows, shops, yard sales, and flea
                                    markets, I've never yet even seen one. In fact, I'm not sure of the
                                    following I've even ever seen an example offered on a list or in a magazine
                                    advertisemement, although they must exist and change hands somewhere, since
                                    Jim McKeown evidently has, at least in most cases, been able to accumulate
                                    enough data to provide an amount in his current guide that you might expect
                                    to pay. 
                                    
                                    Genuine Rarity #1 - The Gamma Duflex (c.1947)
                                    
                                    A single lens reflex design that was way ahead of its time with features
                                    such as an instant return mirror  and an internally linked automatic lens
                                    diaphragm mechanism, this should be on every serious collector's short
                                    list. Alas, I doubt many will ever get the opportunity to own one.
                                    
                                    Genuine Rarity #2 - The Argus C with two levers
                                    
                                    The earliest version of this camera had an second lever for selecting fast
                                    or slow shutter speeds as well as the usual shutter cocking lever. I still
                                    look at every C type I come across looking for one of these, but continue
                                    to be frustrated in my search for this particular variation.
                                    
                                    Genuine Rarity #3 - Kodak Ektra II
                                    
                                    Supposedly a prototypical improvement over the original Ektra, I wonder
                                    about the authenticity of this item, and whether there is any archival
                                    Eastman Company records that would validate it.
                                    
                                    A couple of honorable mentions in this catagory, in that I have actually
                                    seen an example of each in the last couple of years, would be the Chinese
                                    Red Flag (a Leica M-3 copy) and the Leotax NR III, ostensibly manufactured
                                    for use by U.S. military personnel during the Korean War.
                                    
                                    I suppose I ought to defer to Michael Pritchard on this topic of really
                                    scarce 35's, perhaps he could say if any of these have passed through
                                    Christie's hands.
                                    
                                    Feel free to add other worthy candidates to this list.
                                     
                                       __//\__       Stephen Lyons
                                       ||__(()_|    slyons@surfari.net
                                    
                                    

Subject: Re: The "rare" camera.....
                                    Date: Mon, 18 Aug 97 05:48 BST-1
                                    
                                    > I suppose I ought to defer to Michael Pritchard on this topic of really
                                    > scarce 35's, perhaps he could say if any of these have passed through
                                    > Christie's hands.
                                    
                                    The Gamma and the Leotax NRIII have certainly passed through Christie's 
                                    over the last two years - the former several times. The Argus, Ektra II 
                                    have not appeared at auction. Rarity can be a relative concept and may 
                                    change over a period of time, with a consequent effect on value - the John 
                                    Player Special camera is a good example 
                                    
                                    Michael Pritchard
                                    Christie's South Kensington
                                    85 Old Brompton Road
                                    London
                                    SW7 3LD