Spring Sale at the Schoolhouse Antiques Mall

I am SO BEHIND on posting photos. I started a new job last month; my commute is twice as long as I’m used to (although largely on rural highways very light of traffic) AND I’ve been working a lot of overtime—I even came in for about 3 ½ hours on Sunday! I’m sure I’ll get used to it eventually, and I’m certainly not complaining about the money, but lately it feels like I barely have time for anything else.

Anyway, on Saturday I made time for the spring sale at the Old Schoolhouse Antiques Mall in the town of Washington, thus continuing my unbroken streak—I haven’t missed one of the biannual sales (there’s another one in October) since I moved to south Louisiana. For a couple of years there in the middle they were kind of crappy, but they seem to have bounced back. I’ve gotten some of my best vintage cameras there, including my Land Cameras, and this year did not disappoint:

Polaroid SX-70

The SX-70 was the only Land Camera I didn’t have at least one type of*, and one of just three cameras still on my must-own list. (The others are a Rollei 35 and a Fuji Natura Classica. I don’t count the Arguses or Kodak Brownies I buy when I come across them, because I collect those brands specifically.) I only paid $20 for it because it has the plastic rather than metal exterior, and because it hadn’t been cleaned and restored. But the seller—who was selling refurbished ones for $100, so he clearly knows Polaroids—assured me it worked, and I figured I could afford to trust him for $20. Those old leatherette patches just have to be scraped off, and the old adhesive soaked off with denatured alcohol, then I can either buy a die-cut skin or make my own. I’ve seen tutorials where people used materials like old wallpaper swatches, or leather patches cut out of vintage purses.

Hoodoo Oils

And this is the other thing I bought there, a Japanese lacquered corner shelf. Some of the lacquer has rubbed off on the edges, but it was only $12 and I’ve always had a fondness for all the kitschy stuff the GIs brought home after WWII. Cheap as it was, most of it is still better-made and more charming than the crap Ikea sells. I think it’s meant to hang in a wall corner, it’s got a metal hook, but standing it on the dresser creates 3 shelves instead of 2. Which makes it the perfect size to hold all of my condition oils, which previously had been scattered about—some of them were actually being kept in my underwear drawer!

*I also own a 95A, the 2nd model ever made and one that covers the earliest roll-film era; a 150, which covers the classic ‘50s-‘60s era (mine is a 1963); and several late-model hardshells.

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branching out in my love of old stuff

It’s no secret that I go antiquing a LOT. I always loved antique stores, but they weren’t as plentiful in California as they are in the south. There are entire small towns here whose entire downtowns are made up of antique stores, and they all have “antique festivals” in the spring and fall–essentially just the same festival crap you see anywhere, but the stores themselves will usually have sales to go along with it.

Mostly I’m looking for vintage cameras of course, but occasionally I will come across something interesting that I just can’t say no to: opera glasses or absinthe spoons or brooches. (Actually I have quite a decent collection of those last.) In the past couple of years, I’m seeing more and more typewriters. I guess as the kids who never used them become old enough to start buying antiques, they’re starting to be seen as “exotic”. It’s been in the back of my mind for a while that it would be fun to have one for writing letters, but I just hadn’t found one that I had to have. Either they were too busted, or too big, or too expensive, or not old enough.

Well, I’m sure you can imagine where all this is heading:


underwood champion, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

I went antiquing in Breaux Bridge (Crawfish Capitol of the World!) on Saturday, and found one that hit all the required marks:

Under $100 ($43)
Over 50 years old (1948 model)
Not too big (portable model)
More or less working condition (the 2 key sometimes sticks, but how often do you use it)

I’ve written a few letters on it since Saturday night, and it’s so much fun! There’s something satisfying about keys you really have to pound on, and the noise they make, and how you have to slow down or all the keys get tangled up.

The case is scuffed, but it latches and the handle is intact. I want to get some compressed air and blow out some of the dust, and maybe scrub the keys with an old dry toothbrush. And I’m waiting for a “new” ribbon from an eBay seller, although the one in there still has some life in it.


typewriter close up, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Something about keys that stick up, instead of being flush with the keyboard, tickles my fancy.

I just really like giving old things another chance to do what they were meant to do.

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kodak brownie hawkeye

I’ve mentioned the Washington, LA Old Schoolhouse Antiques Mall before; today was day one of their 3-day semi-annual (they have another one in October) “outside” fair, so called because they have a lot more vendors than usual, and they’re all outside of the building. I went with the ‘rents, although Phil spent most of the time sleeping on the front steps. Mr. Excitement.

Frankly, I thought most of the outside vendors were straight-up junk, except for one booth that had a lot of cool old jewelry. I bought a pin shaped like a blue seahorse from her. But I’ve always made good finds inside the mall. It’s where I bought my Kodak Duaflex last year. It still has the take-up spool inside it, which means I could modify 120 rolls to shoot in it (technically it takes 620, which hasn’t been made in decades). But the lab would have to send the spool back, or I’d never be able to shoot in it again, so I’ve been too nervous to actually use it so far. I will one day, though. I wouldn’t have bought it otherwise.

Anyway, I was hoping the same vendor would have more old cameras, and she did not disappoint. I got the above flash model Kodak Brownie Haweye for $40. It has all the flash bulbs! And a roll of 620 that expired in 1968! And how’s this for freaky: there’s a roll in the camera, exposed up to frame 11. I will definitely be sending that in for development. The vendor told me I had to come back if there was anything interesting or weird on it.

The fact that there’s still a roll of film in the camera tells me that it’s not missing any parts inside, so that’s awesome. There’s a space in the box where something used to be, but whatever it was it wasn’t vital, because the flash still connects to the camera. Maybe it was a little tripod or something.

This camera isn’t as old as my Duaflex. My Duaflex was the first model made — I can tell because there’s no Roman numeral after the name — putting it between 1947-1950. The flash model Brownie Hawkeye was in production between 1950-1961, and this one feels like mid-50s to me. It’s bakelite, not plastic; I rubbed some water on the side and it released the smell of formeldahyde. I learned that from Antiques Roadshow.

I’m building up quite a collection of old cameras. One day I will own a Rolleiflex. Oh yes… it will be mine.

ETA: I put the question of the missing space to the Brownie Hawkeye group on flickr, and the likeliest scenario is it contained the batteries for the flash. It’s the right size, and also explains why they’re missing when everything else — even all the flash bulbs — is still there, because batteries will always get put into something eventually.