the old camera collector

This brochure was printed in 1979 for a photo auction that fall.

Toronto. When the late Bill Belier was near retirement, he used to haunt garage sales for cameras and other photographic ephemera. Anything that was not for his collection, he would buy and sell at one of our meetings. If no cameras were on display at a garage sale, he would ask the seller if there were any in the house that he might buy.

Humour helped here. Bill had a business card showing his name and phone number plus the reminder line that he an “old camera collector”. Some people looked at him and saw an ‘old’ camera-collector not an ‘old camera’ collector- he didn’t persuade them otherwise …

During WW2, Bill had served his country abroad, setting the stage for his life-long love of travel. Post war, his work in camera sales led him far afield. Over the years, I enjoyed his many tales of the camera trade. The brochure (cover at left) was picked up by him over in Europe and passed along to me back home as a memento of his trip.

We shared a mutual passion – Leicas. Bill had many Leicas, much older than  mine, dating back to the rare ‘hockey stick’ variety. These were made even harder to find since Leitz would routinely update any camera returned to the factory for cleaning or repair, eliminating the odd piece of metal that served as the infinity lock. In his collection he also had black models and authentic German military cameras. Early cameras were always black enamel, but once satin chrome was refined, black models became exceptions.

Garage sales, bird dogs (non collectors who travelled and kept an eye out for cameras Bill would like), exhibitor tables, and swaps all helped him build an impressive collection over the years. Mind you, if you aren’t a devoted early riser, you can still get good items for your collection by coming to our fairs, sales, meetings and auctions. Remember, there will be goodies for all pocket books and all collectors, just waiting for you! Please note: COVID rules have curtailed our indoor events for now.

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