The title above relates to a post on Rangefinder Forum: Rare Ilford Witness – You’ll just have to see this…

It refers to an Ilford Witness camera that sold for US $18,262.96 with shipping costs of about $700.

Collectiblend (a site which provides values for vintage cameras provides the following estimates:

Average condition $3,200-3,400 body only; $11,500-$12000 with lens

Very good condition $4,000-4,600 body only; $16,000-17,000

Mint condition $7,500-8,000 body only; $25,000-26,000 with lens

They also provide examples of prior auction sales (the first three are from Westlicht and the fourth from Everard & Company Auction): 2014-03-25, “A-” Condition: $18,084; 2013-05-25, “B-” Condition: $18,576; 2012-11-24, “B-” Condition: $19,094; 2011-10-09, “B+” Condition: $13780.

Reading the thread what struck me was the overall tone: amusement, shock, incredulity as if the posters just could not believe the cost of this item. Yet from the information on Collectiblend it seems that this is not an aberration. This is what this camera, with this lens (and it seems as if the lens makes up the bulk of the value) goes for. It’s not as if this is the only camera that fetches large sums of money. Leica “null series” cameras typically fetch in the millions. Collectiblend estimates that a Nikon SP with lens will fetch between $5,600 and $14,000 depending on condition. Collictiblend also provides a list of the 100 most valuable cameras. None of them are below $60,000. Needless to say the Ilford doesn’t come close to making the list.

So are these cameras worth the money they command. To me they aren’t, but obviously they are to the people who buy them. Who knows maybe if I had the kind of money that would allow me to drop $60,000 plus on a camera I might buy one too. I just don’t understand the amusement, shock, incredulity etc. Maybe it’s because the Ilford is an interloper i.e. a valuable camera that isn’t a Leica? If I counted correctly Leicas make up 65 of the 100 most valuable cameras on Collectiblend’s lists.

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