I have a collection of toy and cheap cameras that I started about 30 years ago. My rule for the first couple of years was that I would’t spend more than a dollar. Sometimes I would find 5 or 6 at a thrift store. Then my family started looking for them. I still get a bag of garage sale cameras every Christmas from my brother. I now have probably 500-600 cameras stashed in cardboard boxes on some industrial shelves at the studio.
For a while there has been a tiny leak in one of the concrete studio walls and I was dutifully collecting the water in a bucket. When I went to the studio yesterday during a downpour I discovered water dripping from a new place, right under the shelf that holds my collection. Turns out a trickle of water had been going into one of the boxes for the last few months. Unwrapping the cameras was gross and sad. I had to throw away about a half dozen, including a nice small wood view camera that had fallen apart. The biggest shock was this Argus C3, which was in its original box. The box was a black, sodden, smelly mess. I’m guessing that the combination of water, darkness and the leather case made a perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew.
A few more photos: