Each week I will feature a quick list of items in a fixed price range to buy or pass on. This is strictly a general guide that I use to make a prompt decision while I'm out buying. It's not set in stone... it is something that works for me. Some of you may buy selected items that I marked as "PASS". If you have a shop to stock and don't mind holding merchandise for a long time, you could buy the "PASS" items to keep shelves full or you may have a client list that is searching for a specific pattern or piece to add to their collection. This list is for a quick turn around. To buy profitable pieces for a short term sales or a "flip".
Everyone has 20 bucks. Let's go spend it...or not.
More CAMERAS! Twenty dollars is a hard number to work with. Generally vintage cameras are worth less than twenty or waaaaay more. Not much grey area. Though there's big profits on the under priced mistakes being sold. Here's a few to look for.
Nikon F2 Photomic 35mm Professional
A true 1970s classic. Nikon produced a broad range of high quality 35mm SLR cameras. 20 bucks is super cheap for this model in clean condition. This is one that will still bring $150+ depending on condition. Always check the lens for spots and the shutter speed for smooth and accurate operation. The best way to do this is set it on 1 second. Click the shutter and listen to the action. The sound it makes should take exactly one second. No more, no less. Some older cameras will get stuck for 1 1/2 to 2 or even 3 seconds in that mode. This will affect value. Also don't overlook wear to high spots. These were popular field cameras for the professional and many of them will show bag wear and rubs. Original lens caps and cleaning kits are good signs to see in the bag. The owner cared for it.
Pentax K-1000 w/ after market lens
Great starter camera. It came with all the basic features necessary that other entry level 35 mm SLR's of the day had to produce professional looking images in the right hands. However, if the lens is replaced with a cheaper version of the original 50 mm, has excessive wear and shows its age, this drops the value significantly. They can be bought on Ebay from $6.00 to $30. in this condition. Put your money into something else.
Worth $100-$250, (model specific) in good clean condition $500+ if minty with all the books, accessories, plates and original case. Why is it in with the "$20 Buy" items you ask? If they were left in grandpa's estate to the kids, sometimes they don't even know what it is or it just looks like an old Polaroid to them when closed. If they don't know how to open it, often times it's donated or dumped at estate sales. I found 2 of these cameras within 4 months of each other both closed and under 20 bucks. One looked like an attempt was made to open it with a screw driver, the other was in a box of tools. The inside is usually well preserved. The bellows should be free from mold rips and tears and the track should slide and lock smoothly. Even if you don't use this camera, it looks cool open and displayed in a library or office.
Eastman Kodak vintage folding cameras. Although they look neat and add an air of nostalgia and history to a room, no one uses these pieces of crap. You can't find film for them, and if you did, they take terrible grainy images and are really only good for decoration. Okay..A little harsh on our little Kodak folding camera, but for some reason, new dealers, and some uniformed shops regularly over price these common cameras. If it's mint condition, you can pay 5 bucks...and sell it for 6. or 10. It' WON'T bring $125. as I have seen these priced sometimes. It just won't. With that said, there are some harder to find accordion cameras with RED bellows that sell for $40-$200. Buy those.
Wood Studio cameras by Kodak and other makers are highly collectible even if they are slightly battered. They don't necessarily need to be complete to fetch strong prices due to the cross over appeal to decorators for large format cameras with period wood tripods. Unlikely the large plate models to be found in the twenty dollar range but sometimes smaller versions turn up found dirty, unappreciated and neglected in a box at yard sales.
No...Just say no...