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Wurlitzer1015

Restoring the more rare M3

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Here's a lesson to be learned, if you have an unusual or more rare M3, by this I mean <700100, Black, Olive plus some other rarities, they are best left as original and don't hope you can "restore" them and get a better price. Point in question is an Olive Enamel M3, recently up for auction on the Westlicht auction site.  Appearing in excellent condition it only fetched Eur 6.5k at the hammer fall, probably 1/3rd of what you'd think it was worth.  However, although the site made it clear it had been restored, they didn't provide much further detail.  On examination it was obvious that this camera, number 1158997 was double stroke (which ended with model N0.919250).  My guess is the entire mechanics had been "restored" with something from a pre-919250 body, short film advance lever, older speed sequence dial, long rewind release lever etc etc.  In fact the only original parts would appear to be the top plate, outer case and base plate, it would be fair to assume the restoration consisted of completely gutting the original camera.

Most of the M3s on EBay from "Japan" have suffered a similar fate, made up of a variety of bits and pieces that look good but from the wrong model/year.  This is great if you are buying one to use, but in the collectors market they are pretty much worthless.  Any collector that will pay high prices will spot these "restorations" so it ends up being a wasted effort.

The camera in question still, surprisingly, got a fair price.  Perhaps the buyer is going to do a better "restore" and bring it back to where it should be.

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So what's more valuable, an M3 that doesn't work at all, or an M3 that works? A rare colour doesn't mean it isn't a door stop, it's just a fancy coloured door stop.Your 'guess' may indeed be correct and the internals had been replaced, but if the owner wanted to take a photograph just imagine how valuable that would have been to him. It is possible for people to own rare things and not automatically put a retail value on them. 

Edited by 250swb

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Sure, fully agree with that, but then estimate it for what's it is, not what it was used to be. Could be wrong but for a collector it would be more appealing to be restored to make it function rather than what "appears" to have happened. Maybe it was water damage and needed this radical solution, just a shame it it wasn't.

Edited by Wurlitzer1015

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The rule you state (original is better then restored) is generally true, and as a regular (though not massively) follower of auctions, I tend to say that Marketplace generally reflects this.

But "collectors" is a very widespread category, with a variety of "moods and passions" (*) and anyone has the obvious right to collect what he likes, at a cost he can afford and justify on his "pleasure of have" : maybe, if one LOVES M3s in themselves (he likes the item per se) , he likes to have several, in different stylings (black, olive, DR...) regardless of top originality… so good for him, while another likes to have even very worn but completely original ones… another likes to have "odd s/n" etc... :rolleyes:

I recently sold my normal, worn and slightly damaged M2 to a Forum Member who is a passionate repairer : he told me that probably will restore it in black finishing : it will result in a nice to see black M2, which surely will be appealing to someone even if it will be clearly stated that is not an original black M2.

 

(*) Why ME, a no great collector, do like so much the Summaron 35 3,5, so that now I have 6 and probably will have another in some days ? :P Isn't a special nor rare nor prestige lens… but I like it… :rolleyes:

Edited by luigi bertolotti

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And then there is restore and restore. When does a repair turn into a restoration? Replacing broken parts by original spares to restore the function can surely not diminish the value, unless we are talking about the type of collector that goes for the "unopened box" kind of collectables.

Of course, using inappropriate parts or removing patina is a different matter.

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'The Farmer and the Cowman should be Friends' or so goes the song from Oklahoma. It is the same with users and collectors. It would be fair to say that many users to not understand collectors and why they seek original condition above all other things or why they have more than one example of the same model or why some items in their collection do not function or are never used. I am both a user and a collector and I can see both sides of the argument. I have 8 I Model As , 9 if you include one that was 'upgraded' to a Standard 'in period' which is generally regarded as valid from a collecting perspective. About half of my I Model As are not in original condition (eg one with strap eyes, one is nickel plated all over and one has a later lens) , but I was aware of that when I bought them. I have put film through 4 of them, the most recent being my oldest one No 1661 from 1926. When I was using it, the lens fell off due to expansion of the shims behind the lens. I did some running repairs with the roll of film inside and I did not get a single light leak which is a tribute to a 92 year old shutter. The camera has no sign of the original paint and the top and bottom plates are completely brassed, but the camera looks very attractive nonetheless. I discussed this with Jim Lager in Wetzlar recently and he speculated that someone had stripped off the original paint in order to do a restoration, but had then decided to sell it. We both agreed that the camera had been 'rescued' by that sale as I would never have it painted. To my eyes nothing looks worse than a 90 year old camera that has been repainted to look like new, but I am also aware of artificial 'brassing' going on in some workshops. I may never put another roll of film through that camera again, but I am planning, in consultation with my local CLA man here in Dublin, to have mechanical repairs done to one of my I Model As to make that my 'shooter' I A. While I am on this theme, I doubt that the I Model A Anastigmat with SN 207, for which €120,000 was paid at Westlicht last week, will ever be used for street photography.

Going back to the Olive M3, mentioned by Wurlitzer1015, I believe that Westlicht flagged potential restoration issues and also, in the catalogue, the camera looked almost too pristine for a Government issue item, apart from the bottom plate which was also noted. My view is that anyone who was buying this camera as a collector should have examined it themselves or had it examined on their behalf. I always assume that when items are being sold for large sums at auction that either the purchaser has the necessary expertise or has employed someone with such expertise. This is certainly true about the art world. I cannot comment about the cattle business.

William

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I agree with Jaapv and my analogy for this whole 'scene' would be the concours car market. It's ridiculous to assume that one would find a mint, fully functioning, all original 80 year old car. What IS important is that it is completely up to exact original specification...and that it actually works. Sometimes they have to make replacement parts because none exist...no one screams "But it's not original!!". I think this idea that every old camera needs to be a museum piece, never opened or touched, to be worth something is a bit over the top. I don't, however, agree with modifications to make something look older (unless it's clear this has happened...same as the vintage guitar market). But at times it gets crazy....yes, I know, things are worth what the market pays...but sometimes the market is pretty stupid. Next up they'll disqualify brassing that happened walking around the city vs. brassing that happened with the camera on a military operation. 

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44 minutes ago, Jon Pop said:

sometimes the market is pretty stupid. Next up they'll disqualify brassing that happened walking around the city vs. brassing that happened with the camera on a military operation

I would be honored to have Larry Burrows' M3 .

Edited by pico

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1 hour ago, Jon Pop said:

I agree with Jaapv and my analogy for this whole 'scene' would be the concours car market. It's ridiculous to assume that one would find a mint, fully functioning, all original 80 year old car. What IS important is that it is completely up to exact original specification...and that it actually works. Sometimes they have to make replacement parts because none exist...no one screams "But it's not original!!". I think this idea that every old camera needs to be a museum piece, never opened or touched, to be worth something is a bit over the top. I don't, however, agree with modifications to make something look older (unless it's clear this has happened...same as the vintage guitar market). But at times it gets crazy....yes, I know, things are worth what the market pays...but sometimes the market is pretty stupid. Next up they'll disqualify brassing that happened walking around the city vs. brassing that happened with the camera on a military operation. 

Was it British PM Mrs Thatcher who said that 'you can't buck the market' in 1988? Markets are determinants of value and interest. No matter how stupid they might appear to be, they should ultimately be a valid objective test of value and interest. The markets can be distorted by manipulation or deceit, of course,  and they are factors that must be watched. Both from a collector and a user perspective, replacing and repairing broken parts are not problems. Tarting up, if I can call it that, is a matter of taste , but most collectors don't like to buy old cameras that have been tarted up to look like new.  Faking and counterfeiting is always wrong, unless the faking is declared. Leica AG has examples of fake Leicas ( FSU 'military items') in its entrance lobby in Wetzlar and these will go into the Leica Museum when it opens in 2020.

William

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10 hours ago, Wurlitzer1015 said:

Point in question is an Olive Enamel M3, recently up for auction on the Westlicht auction site.  Appearing in excellent condition it only fetched Eur 6.5k at the hammer fall, probably 1/3rd of what you'd think it was worth.

The camera in question still, surprisingly, got a fair price.  Perhaps the buyer is going to do a better "restore" and bring it back to where it should be.

Its a great deal more than an ordinary M3. I suppose the question here is actually about 'where was it'? What would a non-functioning M3 in Olive Enamel which is seriously unusable and in need of a great deal of repair be worth I wonder. If this restoration was of such a camera has it increased its value or reduced it?

I have a Black Paint M4. I'm NOT a collector I'm a user. My M4 has been heavily used but still works ok. It not only has paint loss, it has numerous bumps and a few dents, so was priced accordingly at an affordable figure when I bought it (more than a chrome body but considerably less than an un-bumped/dented BP body) which suits me fine. I can indulge in owning/using a BP M4 which I do like without worrying that I'm going to substantially devalue it by using it (my cameras seem to acquire patina from my use). I am also happy to have it serviced and repaired should it need either. I would not restore it.

But would I want to buy a restored camera as a user? Well, no because such a camera would have all the disadvantages of looking good and thus being damageable. Repairs I can understand, restoration I'm not so sure about. And from the collectors perspective, as ha been commented on already, a restoration still sts uneasilty. A betwixt or between camera I'm afraid, neither one thing nor the other.

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18 minutes ago, willeica said:

Markets are determinants of value and interest. No matter how stupid they might appear to be, they should ultimately be a valid objective test of value and interest. The markets can be distorted by manipulation or deceit, of course, ...

And by stupidity. When my son was in Seminary, my wife helped with costs by selling the "collectible" Hallmark Christmas ornaments and Beanie Babies (that she inherited) on the internet auction site. People bid up incredible prices ($150 for a piece of painted plastic). Then there was a market correction (sanity check), and now you can't give these things away.

I buy Leica gear only to use, not as an investment. (Never sold a Lieca item.)

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14 minutes ago, TomB_tx said:

And by stupidity. When my son was in Seminary, my wife helped with costs by selling the "collectible" Hallmark Christmas ornaments and Beanie Babies (that she inherited) on the internet auction site. People bid up incredible prices ($150 for a piece of painted plastic). Then there was a market correction (sanity check), and now you can't give these things away.

I buy Leica gear only to use, not as an investment. (Never sold a Lieca item.)

As I said 'you can't buck the market' even if it is for Hallmark ornaments and Beanie Babies. I hope that your son did well out of the initial sale. Did I mention that markets tend to be cyclical? 

As for collecting, some people may buy as an investment, but I suspect that the vast majority of collectors buy in order to own the items in question, while they are still alive anyway. I am aware that many collectors offload items in later life, but often this is because of necessity rather than profit.

William

Edited by willeica

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2 minutes ago, willeica said:

I am aware that many collectors offload items in later life, but often this is because of necessity rather than profit.

Sometimes it is necessary to escape miser's guilt by divesting. :) I've had  nightmares of my family going through my storage unit. "What's with the boxes of weird old cameras?" "And a car?"

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Complete restorations are, I suspect, not infrequently undertaken, to repair very poor quality or amateurish previous repairs. For example I have a 1934 nickel Model III, which was originally owned by my great uncle and then my father (although as far as I know he never used it). At some stage prior to my father's ownership, the paint had been re-touched with domestic gloss paint and the vulcanite with what looked like black nail varnish or car cellulose enamel. The tapes had been stuck back on the curtains very crudely with rubber glue. It sat in a drawer all through my childhood. I then had it for 40 years, before deciding I had to do something with it and the only answer was a total rebuild, re-cover and repaint. It was all done very well by Alan Starkie but of course, at a cost, which must be considerably in excess of its current market value. 

Wilson

PS I have a recent acquisition which is a near mint, late (1966), chrome  SS M3. The only downside is that it has a tiny ding on the middle of the top cover's top surface. Can these be dressed out without making the appearance worse? It is totally hidden by the chrome MR-4 meter on the camera, so I wonder if best left alone. The camera has been unused for many years and does need a CLA in any case. 

Edited by wlaidlaw

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7 hours ago, wlaidlaw said:

The only downside is that it has a tiny ding on the middle of the top cover's top surface. Can these be dressed out without making the appearance worse? It is totally hidden by the chrome MR-4 meter on the camera, so I wonder if best left alone. The camera has been unused for many years and does need a CLA in any case. 

It can be done easily, more easily if there is not an engraving in the ding.
So if you plan to make a CLA, it is time...

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On 12/1/2018 at 6:39 PM, willeica said:

As for collecting, some people may buy as an investment, but I suspect that the vast majority of collectors buy in order to own the items in question, while they are still alive anyway. I am aware that many collectors offload items in later life, but often this is because of necessity rather than profit.

William

+  1

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1 hour ago, jc_braconi said:

It can be done easily, more easily if there is not an engraving in the ding.
So if you plan to make a CLA, it is time...

JC it is about 2mm to the eye-side of the "R" in Wetzlar. It is a tiny ding which almost looks like a mechanics punch mark. It is around 1.5mm across and around 0.5mm deep. I suspect this type of work is more Malcolm Taylor than Alan Starkie, who does more mechanical and paint work (albeit both beautifully). I will send it to Malcolm when he has completed and returns my 250FF, IIIa, 2 MOOLY's, 2 Summars and a SCNOO. I am still waiting for my M7 back from Alan sent to him a month ago as an urgent, with a jammed wind-on. 

On 12/1/2018 at 5:39 PM, willeica said:

As for collecting, some people may buy as an investment, but I suspect that the vast majority of collectors buy in order to own the items in question, while they are still alive anyway. I am aware that many collectors offload items in later life, but often this is because of necessity rather than profit.

William

+2

Wilson

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13 minutes ago, wlaidlaw said:

+2

Wilson

Thanks JC and Wilson. I am still collecting, but I can already see the day when I will start offloading.

William

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