“an essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” -edwin land

Yesterday was the spring half of the Washington Schoolhouse Antiques Mall Outside Sale, which I’ve managed to hit every time since I moved down here (there’s a second one in the fall). Yesterday was pretty nasty for April, so we planned to leave around 8:00. For very few things do I tolerate setting my alarm for 7:00 am on a Saturday.

I’m on the lookout for primarily two things at Washington: old pins (jewelry, not like, clothespins or safety pins) and old cameras. I struck out on the pins–the lady who always has a booth of old jewelry that’s like 85% pins didn’t make it this year–and inside the schoolhouse I didn’t see anything I couldn’t live without.

There’s a couple of shelves in the gym that usually has old cameras that are guaranteed to be in working condition, it’s where I got both my Brownie Hawkeye and Kodak Duaflex. And I was surprised this time to find a model 95A Polaroid Land Camera. Surprised, because I wasn’t even aware there were models lower than 100.

Dog bless the Blackberry; a quick scan of the Wikipedia entry for “Land Camera” later and I’d found out that the pre-100 series were the first commercially available Land Cameras and were in production from 1948-1963. There was a 95, 95A, and 95B; so this camera is the middle model and was probably made in the mid- to late-’50s. They used the old roll-type of instant film and were replaced by the 100 series, which shot pack film, the kind of film I shoot in my Holgaroid. Roll-type instant film stopped being made in 1992, but! There are rumors on the internets that they can be modified to shoot 4×5 pack film.

So what the hey, I bought it. It wasn’t expensive to begin with, it’s in near-mint condition, and on top of that it was on sale 20% just for this weekend. I’ve been wanting a Land Camera for ages, but I refuse to buy from fleaBay. Those cameras are never film-tested and they’re being sold by dealers who don’t know shit about what they’re selling and only see old cameras as a way to make a quick buck off of gullible buyers. It pisses me off.

I hope I can get it to shoot pack film, but even if I never do, it’s fun just to have it. The bellows don’t have any cracks or holes, and the shutter works like she rolled off the assembly line last week. Even the strap on the case is barely worn.

Old cameras make me nostalgic for an America that disappeared right around the time that I was born: a country that made things that worked well for decades. This country doesn’t make things anymore, we just provide services.


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