A Piece of Photographic History

Yesterday we ventured out early into a cold and gray Sunday morning. We were wrapped up nice and warm and so were the children, and so we headed down the road to the second-hand/car boot sale at Dewsbury market.

Whilst Helen was looking at clothes and other things that might be deemed bargain where the children are concerned, I drifted round the many stalls selling old trinkets and antiques. There were quite a few nestled neatly in between the plethora of stalls selling mobile phones, laptops, games consoles and who knows what other electrical items. I wasn’t too ure if I was looking for anything in particular or just hoping for a glimmer of something that I could deem to be a bargain.

My short walk led me to a stall selling everything from books about the Queens Golden Jubilee to the tiniest model soldiers. It was an eclectic stall and I got the impression I might find something I liked on it.

Then I saw it. It didn’t look anything much to the average person but I recognised it instantly for my Grandparents had owned one once before casting it aside as rubbish and subsequently discarding it. A tatty leather case with a broken strap. I asked the stall holder if I may have a look, he obviously didn’t mind and signalled me to take a peak. What was inside was, to me, photographic gold. I had found a box Brownie.

Okay, so I knew it wasn’t one of the very first Kodak Brownie cameras but I knew it was from the middle of the 20th century. I was a Kodak Brownie Six-20 Model E and despite the patches of rust it looked beautiful.

Then came the thought – just how much was this guy going to ask for it? So I asked and when the answer of £3came back at me I could extract the coins from my pocket quick enough. It was mine.

I know now that even in mint condition this camera would not be worth more than around £30 but it is not monetary worth that I’m interested in.  It the history that capture me from the moment I saw it.  Questions filling my head. Who had owned it? How many sentimental family photos came from this camera? Where had it been?  I know I’ll never find the answers but it’s fun imagining.

So now this cameras purpose in life has changed.  It is no longer used to take immeasurably valuable family snap shots but sits proudly on our desk – a constant reminder of how far technology has brought us, not only in photography but in all aspects of life. It also represents the fact that technology can only do so much and without us to harness its power it is nothing.


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