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.