I'm almost through to the bottom of the pile of camera gear I inherited. I ended up with about 50 cameras of varying types and conditions. There are a few cameras that are good as gold and some are not so hot. I was opening up boxes and finding old Brownies mixed in with Roleicords. It was a lot of work just making the first pass to figure out what I've got. Now the real work begins.
First, I've got to keep track of all this stuff. I decided to tackle that with a database. If you can access a FileMaker Pro database file, you can download a copy of it here:
Second, I've got to sort it all out and figure out what I can use, what I might want to get repaired, what I want to save for my collection and which things I might want to find new homes for. To do that, I've got to assess the condition of all this stuff.
Finally, I would like to put some kind of value on this collection. One reason is so that I know what a good asking price is for things I end up selling. The second reason is so I can put a value on the collection for insurance purposes.
For assessing the condition, I have a 7 categories: Lens, Shutter, Aperture, Body, Film Transport, Film Gate and Case/Accessory. Each of the categories is rated from 0 to 5. ("0" meaning that it's completely busted and "5" meaning that it's perfect.)
I also have another field in the database that calculates the average of the other 7 categories and gives an overall rating.
For assessing value, I have a calculation set up that looks at the overall condition and uses it as a divisor. If I can find the highest value that a camera in top condition might hope to bring I can use a formula like:
Camera-Value = Highest-Value * (Condition-Score / 5)
So, if a certain model of camera in top condition might sell for $50 and my camera's condition rates 3.5 out of 5 that would give me:
$50 * (3.5 / 5) = $35
I realize that valuing vintage cameras is the same as it is with other collectible items. You might THINK that your Mickey Mantle baseball card is worth a million dollars but it doesn't mean you'll get a million dollars for it. It's an inexact science that's based on market conditions and finding the right buyer for the right item. (Assuming that there is a buyer.)
So, what do you think? Have you got any pointers to help get it all sorted out?
I recently had to assess a collection of photographic equipment held by an art society of which I'm a member and I used a rough-and-ready method: I went to the famous online auction site and checked out the "completed auctions" to find the final selling prices for comparable pieces in comparable condition. It's surprising how often identical or almost identical items show up, even for stuff that's relatively rare. I figured it was the best way to get an approximate idea of current values on the open market.
That's how I've been getting a few prices, so far.
I go and search a particular piece of equipment and get prices for three or more similar items from eBay then average them. I also take a look at KEH and B&H. I try to make a judgment of what is the TOP price a particular camera might bring. That's just my starting value.
Then I grade the camera on its lens, film path, body, etc. on a scale of 1 to 5 and come up with an overall average. Let's say a camera's overall score is 3.5 out of 5.0. That's 70%. So I figure the camera is worth 70% of the top price.
Finally, every camera or non-trivial piece of equipment is going to get a manila string tag with its item number on one side and a short description on the other. Once this is all done, I'll be able to decide which cameras I want to keep, which ones I want to fix up or clean and use and which ones will go to new homes.
Basically, I'm only a third of the way done!