I’m not a collector; the handful of cameras and accessories that I have were all bought to be used. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that I don’t get a great deal of satisfaction when something turns up with its original box and instruction manual. There’s a connection to its history, a sense that somebody, somewhere – a real living person – went out and bought this item and looked after it, maybe even cherished it.
The Weston Master III is a selenium powered light meter from an age when things were not only beautifully designed and packaged, they were also made to last for a period of time of time that was commensurate with the price paid (yes, Iphone, you may well blush). This particular example was bought in 1958 for 10 pounds, 18 shillings, and 3 pence. I can be sure of that because, carefully tucked away in the manual, was the original receipt..
The average UK weekly wage in 1958 was just under 10 pounds, so this was a considerable purchase and it’s probably no surprise this has been well looked after. Many old meters are on their last legs these days as the selenium cells eventually wear down, but this one is still going strong and gives accurate readings. This may well be because it’s been kept in the box, as exposure to light will shorten its life. So take note Olympus Trip owners; keep those cells covered by a lens cap when the camera’s not in use.
Incidentally, I can’t find out when the Kodak store in Regent Street closed down, but 184-186 is now a branch of Hugo Boss; definitive proof that progress does not always follow a linear trajectory.
And to the lady or gentleman of Bakers Lane, Lingfield, wherever you are: I promise to look after it and treat it with the same amount of respect as you did.