Finding treasure in auctions and charity shops


With our love of analogue photography comes a terrible price; the never ending trawl for new (read old) and interesting cameras. It started with ebay but as with many obsessions only grew and now leads me to auctions, charity shops, old relatives attics and really anywhere we might find a gem. My loved ones have grown to hate the bordom and musty smell that I put them through whilst I rake through never ending piles of old boxes of what will almost certainly be junk…. But maybe… Just maybe this time will be different.

My hit rate isn’t good. I estimate it to be about 1 Helios per 10 visits. By far my favourite hunting ground is the John Milne auctioneers in Aberdeen. Most weeks I pop in to the viewing to see what treasures I can find. Most of the time it’s rusty box brownies, 90s plastic canon SLRs, stamp collections and VCRs on offer but once in a while I strike gold or more accurately Brass….

Auction house find. (excuse the phone snap)

Auction house find. (excuse the phone snap)

Well there goes my Wednesday morning, I knew I’d be eagerly waiting for it’s number to come up and hoping that nobody else in the room wanted it as much as I did. I wondered home and spent the next hour or so digging around on-line trying to figure out what it was and how much it was worth. Easier said than done!

The Camera

It’s an 1890’s J.Lizars Challenge 5×7. Made from Teak with brass and in amazing condition with matching lens which fires perfectly. This Glasgow based company had offices in Aberdeen around the turn of the century so it’s probable that is when it was purchased. I couldn’t find out much more but did see a few which had sold on ebay for £150-£350. I thought this was a good starting point but the one I was looking at was in considerably better condition and much more complete. Along with the camera came 3 original, dark slides and original Tripod legs.

Auction day

A packed house is never a good sign and it was standing room only with STV filming an episode of what ever ‘Antiques roadhouse in the attic for cash series’ (I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s called) they do. Thankfully there were no serious bidders. Only one other person and my final price including fees was £155.

Chuffed I think is the word!

I’ve since done some more research and found out it is in amazing condition for a camera of it’s age and should fetch a darn site more at a specialist camera auction. I need some film as we only have 4×5 and 8×10 kicking about the shop but once I can justify an order from our amazing German suppliers Adox I will be running some CHS 100 II through it. I can’t wait!

It really does make all the trawling through dusty and smelly auction rooms and charity shops worth it! My girlfriend is slightly annoyed though as I was starting to loose interest before this find but now I’ll be dragging her round more than ever. I keep telling her it makes up for the shoe shops she drags me round but apparently, “it’s not the same.”

Anyone else had any amazing charity shop or auction finds lately?

For your camera porn enjoying pleasure;



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