View Full Version : GAS, and it's ultimate effect

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06-23-2012, 03:17 PM
Jim McD told me once that he thinks the proper number of cameras to own is N-1, where N is the number that will make your wife throw you out. Today, in helping PHSNE deal with a large donation, I came on a house where the man (now passed on) had N+X, where X is the number he could hide. Let me tell you it wasn't as pretty a sight as I might have thought. His widow even found cameras hidden in the charcoal grill in the garage. We had six people there for four hours just bringing boxes up from the basement, and that was after a truck filled with "the good stuff" had gone to the PHSNE warehouse, another load had gone to Skinner Auctions and two guys had worked for days sorting and boxing orphans hidden in every available nook and cranny of the house. In the end, even the good stuff, and a lot of it is very good, will take fours or so auctions to clear out. Some of these cameras are in brand new condition, some are good users, some have been wrapped in newspaper and then stored in a wet basement. 8>( Many of the folders were stored with the bellows exposed (open). Lenses were often stored in empty wine cases, 12 to a box. Sometimes he seems to have taken cameras apart and stored the parts in different places.

I tried to find a pattern in his collections, but the only thing that strings each of these cameras, lenses, assorted what's-its and cases seems to be that he could buy it. There are German cameras, Japanese cameras, American cameras and Russian cameras; rangefinders, TLR's, SLR's, P&S, folders and plate cameras; darkroom equipment for at least three darkrooms (and no darkroom) and boxes and boxes of tools, parts and accessories. He had covering material, aging chemicals, re-coating paints and chemicals, polishes and adhesives. As far as I know, he never worked on other people's cameras and was not a dealer.

I am a packrat. I know what it is to need to keep stuff–– because it's cools stuff or because you think you may need it someday. Today I may have seen the end of that particular road. Will I learn?

The jury is out.

Bill Burk
06-23-2012, 03:43 PM
Heartwarming story!

06-23-2012, 03:45 PM
Indeed. I hadn't thought about the charcoal grill in the garage...:cool:

06-23-2012, 03:58 PM
Scary story. But then again, I just get stressed seeing stuff that has no use, sitting on the shelf - and I thin my (admittedly small) herd at irregular intervals. :)

06-23-2012, 04:43 PM
Interesting story. So when is the sale/auction again?

My wife uses the charcoal grill... Wish I had a basement...

06-23-2012, 05:33 PM
At some point obsessively collecting and hoarding anything to that degree becomes a form of mental illness.

06-23-2012, 05:52 PM
Screw the mental illness side of this. When/where is the auction? Must have more good stuff!

Christopher Walrath
06-23-2012, 05:53 PM
I am glad I have converted from the long road of GAS. I once had dreams of rooms full of photographia. And now I can only imagine the coffee I could not have been drinking these last three years since I trimmed the fat and kept it that way. Speaking of fat, maybe I should buy some more cameras and less TastyKakes.

06-23-2012, 05:54 PM
Well, if I have to go mental, cameras are not so bad... ;-)

Though, I agree that there is not much point in having so much of anything you cannot enjoy it.

I am here: http://tapatalk.com/map.php?cjoa1j

06-23-2012, 06:02 PM
He strikes me as a BRAVE man


06-23-2012, 06:20 PM
"I came on a house where the man (now passed on) had N+X, where X is the number he could hide."
I love that line!! :D
I am sure I am at the N-1 stage and as you know Whitey, the Mrs has been quite kind and patient with me. But I may have reached my limit with this:
Raji 5x7

06-23-2012, 08:18 PM
Some people who experienced the great depression became hoarders of not only canned food, but all sorts of "stuff". They never wanted to be without again. My father in law comes to mind. He was in the same house for 60+ years... Took his kids several months to clear his/her "stuff" out when he passed on. But this guy had just about any tool you'd ever need, plus materials of every sort. He could as he'd say "fabricate just about anything". It was always very interesting to see what he had tucked away, often several of the same thing. He knew quality when he saw it and was a craftsman. I acquired a few of his cameras and tools. I always think of him when I have to try to "fabricate" something.

06-24-2012, 01:32 AM
Woah. And I'm just the opposite, I can't hold onto anything long enough..Hell I could move out of my place in one truckload!

06-24-2012, 02:45 AM
"I came on a house where the man (now passed on) had N+X, where X is the number he could hide."
I love that line!! :D
I am sure I am at the N-1 stage and as you know Whitey, the Mrs has been quite kind and patient with me. But I may have reached my limit with this:
Raji 5x7
Yes Gene, but if your're going to use that beauty and can afford it...why not. I will say about the individual described with n+x cameras I have to agree he did have a psycological issue.....hiding cameras and parts in every nook and cranny is not normal

06-24-2012, 03:00 AM
"Hey Bob what are we having at your bbq?" "Cameras!" Best bbq ever.

06-24-2012, 05:22 AM
I think I'm a sort of modern nomad, I hate having too much stuff as it only feels like a dead weight tying me down. I feel stressed by nicknacks that serve no purpose and I try to keep only what I use or love deeply. I like to pick up and just leave for extended periods of time every now and then and have learned that less stuff usually equals more freedom. I've had some pretty awesome adventures thanks to this habit, and in the end I think these memories are more valuable than any amount of stuff or money could ever be.

06-24-2012, 05:26 AM
I was a Caseworker for a guy who has such severe OCD, he ended up being sent to a psychiatric ward and then referred to the homeless shelter where I worked until his house could get cleaned up. He had garbage filling every room, kitty litter filled in the tub to defecate 'cause toilet was plugged and he had grass growing through a BMW he had in his yard. To told me he had "gold, silver, diamonds and money" in the house and he needed to get to it. I had to explain that is was boarded up, but would keep him updated on when the cleanup was finished. When they called me, they told me he had over $200,000 worth of gold, silver, diamonds and money stashed all over the house, which they found after weeks of moving out all the garbage he never took out of the house and piled in bags to the ceiling. I couldn't believe it. They used the money to fix up the house and sell it for almost $1,000,000.

This guy with the cameras....mental health...probably....skill...definately. I don't know how one can hide 4 auctions worth of cameras, but he must have been crafty.

06-24-2012, 06:03 AM
Evidently a lover of wines as well...

The only thing that stops me from hoarding cameras obsessively is than I can't stand dirty cameras – they all get exercised and cleaned regularly. Oh, and fear of the dry cabinet collapsing.

06-24-2012, 08:45 AM
I have too many cameras, something like 20 bodies and some 40 lenses, most of them reflex made by Nikon, Pentax and Canon, except for one rangefinder (Yashica electro 35 GSN + accessories tele and wide) and one point & shoot (Nikon L35AF).

I like using everyone, although I feel I have too many. But I have no will to trim them down..
If I had to start over, though, I would stick with one brandmark.

This story, in my opinion, is rather sad. It looks like obvious the man did not use all his equipment and I doubted he took the trouble to develop and print his films.
So what's the use of it all???

06-24-2012, 08:54 AM
I don't know, Gene, I think maybe you could get a few more before your better half starts to move your stuff to the curb. My own strategy has been to have all of my gear in the "studio," a repurposed garage separate from the house. What is not in the house is not a problem for Lena, and when I trip over something inside, it's more likely to be her stuff, not mine!

I don't want to leave the impression that this "collector" lived in squalor. His home, in one of the wealthiest suburbs of Boston, is quite lovely; clean, up to date and not really cluttered at all. It's just that it is a large home, with no kids. There are many, many hiding places in a home like this, and he took advantage of each and every one of them. I also believe he liked to keep his gear in good shape. It may have simply gotten away from him in the last few years of his life. I don't know much about him.

PHSNE auctions, for those who are serious in wanting to know, are at various times. There is a members auction in February, and will likely be auctions following each of the next three or four Photographica shows, which happen in the spring and the fall. The next show is in Wakefield, MA, on September 22-23. Look at the PHSNE website (http://phsne.org/) for information. As I have said more than once, PHSNE is a great organization, well worth a look. Monthly meetings, open to the public, are opportunities to hear from knowledgeable collectors, dealers and historians about images, methods and gear. They put out a monthly newsletter and The Journal, a yearly publication that is sent to and collected by libraries as well as members. The shows each spring and fall are what attracted me, but the people are what keep me interested. Saturday's adventure of discovery, as box after box of camera gear was unloaded on the table, was a great time–– and working with the other guys who sorted the stuff made me realize how little I know in comparison.