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
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
Feel free to add other worthy candidates to this list.
__//\__ Stephen Lyons
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
Christie's South Kensington
85 Old Brompton Road