I have the remains of a 1882 George Hare, by the look of it a previous owner thought that black-finished cameras (in the American style) was fashionable so he painted it black, in addition to some "creative improvisations" as well. I have stripped it down completely and now figuring out how to replicate some of the broken parts and then get it rebuilt and refinished from the ground up, so as to be as close to original as possible, as yet, useable: it's a half-plate model with missing back so I would need to construct a new back for standard 4X5 darkslides anyway.
It reminds me of old car and motorcycle enthusiasts. If a motorcycle is supposed to be "original" then even a cadmium-plated bolt on it would disqualify it; when you remove the old paint the originality is gone. But for the enthusiast who just comes across a wreck, he could give it a full ground-up rebuild, lavish upon it the care and finish well beyond what the original manufacturer could afford; that makes for a "concour d'elegance" specimen. For me this George Hare is of the latter type, so bring out the french polish!