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This Man Collects Mid-Century Modern Cameras


David Silver is a San Francisco-based camera collector who began collecting vintage cameras as a young man, eventually amassing over 2,300 of them. He has since developed a focus and whittled his collection down to a little over 200 of them. Here’s a 5-minute video by Gizmodo that profiles Silver.

Silver says his father got him into camera collecting when he handed Silver his grandfather’s old 100-year-old Kodak 3A folding pocket camera. He then began collecting cameras from the late 19th century and early-to-mid 20th century, as they were the models that made photography available to the masses.

After years of collecting, Silver quit his 15-year job as a civil servant and became a dealer of antique and vintage cameras. He then began to sell off his most valuable cameras to customers — they became income for him. As part of the process, he went from collecting wood and brass antique cameras to simple plastic mid-century modern cameras.

Silver with a portion of his collection. Still frame by Gizmodo.

“Part of the joy of collecting is the treasure hunt,” Silver says. “The collector in me would do crazy things — travel literally 3,000 miles to get that one item I really wanted.”

Silver is currently working on a book about the history of cameras and also runs the International Photographic Historical Organization.