Camera Collectors – Police Your Collection

What is missing from your camera collection: a Zeiss Ikon Jena Contax (II) with 42.5mm f2 lens, or a Moorse Single Lens Stereo with Meniscus lens?

These two were never even in my dreams as I started my camera collecting over twenty years ago. I chose price as the determining factor in collecting. I made some great purchases, especially as digital cameras became popular. Many of my cameras have been sold over the years and with new interest in old technology, I have seen prices on the rise even for simple post-war examples. With increased interest from customers, I am again looking for old cameras in my constant quest for antiques.

This latest find (above) has a cross-over collectability. If you don’t recognize it as a camera, you’re not alone. I had to examine it with the help of the seller until he actually just came out and said,”It’s a Finger-Print Camera.” He opened the bottom and I saw the lens and shutter release. Tiny light bulbs inside and D-sized battery holders, an electrical cord and transformer confirm its usefulness in a station or in the field.

Here is what McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique & Classic Cameras (1997 edition) has to offer on this Graflex Camera.

Finger-Print Camera 2-1/4″ x 3-1/4 : A special purpose camera for photographing fingerprints or making 1:1 copies of other photos or documents. The pre-focused lens is recessed to the proper focal distance inside the flat-black rigid shroud. To make an exposure, the camera is placed directly on the surface to be photographed. Four battery-opperated flashlight bulbs provide the illumination.

As a camera collector, This unusual camera presents a unique application for photo equipment. It lacks the distinctive look of an ordinary camera. Its simple operation would have a novice producing acceptable results with little effort or instruction. With both battery and electrical connection, its use inside an station or in the field is an added bonus.

There is a segment of the collecting world that sets their sites on police collectibles, badges, firearms, uniforms, hats, belts, radios and billy clubs. I suppose if I had been arrested in my youth, I may have had an understanding of this device. Oh well.

Who could resist adding this item to the ‘what-is-it’ contest in your man cave?

When collecting cameras, I always consider condition first, try out the lens shutter for function, and if it contains a battery, I inspect the holder to be sure it’s not corroded.

If your collection is growing share it with us on Collectors Quest. And happy hunting.



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The Dean

The Dean That was my question too. I had to see the lens, (pictured) to start my belief, and it was confirmed in McKeown's Camera book. October 13th, 2012 at 6:45 PM

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