View Full Version : What's This Camera Worth? Rochester Camera & Supply Company Poco B 5x7 Plate Camera

17-Mar-2012, 05:30
Hey, all!

I recently found this Poco B 5x7 plate camera at an antique store near my home. Unfortunately I wasn't able to take it home, because the proprietor of the store didn't have a price on it. I checked in 2 weeks later (yesterday) and she still didn't have a price.

I told her I'd take pictures and ask the fine folks on LF forum what they thought about it, so here we are. Condition is as follows:

Front: Focusing bed drops easily, lens extends easily, bellows look supple and undamaged but haven't been leak-checked. Lensboard separates easily from front standard, front standard rise/fall works with little resistance and locks up securely. Focusing rail moves easily with movement of focusing knob, and when folded back up it closes securely.

Lens/Shutter: Rear lens element cloudy, front lens element spotted. Shutter operates but is VERY sticky. Aperture blades OK. Lens barrel says it's made to cover 5x7.

Back: The back door that opens to allow focusing latches securely when shut, but can be slightly difficult to open (it doesn't fall open immediately).

Side: The latch that holds the door where the film holders are stored for transit will not latch.

Top: top handle broken.

Plate Holders: 3 wooden plate holders included. One has a broken darkslide handle. They are all a bit grimy and need to be cleaned. The slides themselves don't like to move.

Overall: A little worn and very clearly dusty and dirty with age.

Pictures follow. So, guys, what's it worth, how much would it take to restore to working condition, and should I bother?





17-Mar-2012, 05:33
More photos.





William Whitaker
17-Mar-2012, 08:25
So, you want to restore this beauty to take photographs or sit on the mantle? Actually, in either case I'd say 'don't bother'. Not to rain on your parade, but what it would cost to restore it to working condition would be more than it's worth, even if all you invest is your own labor. That leather covering is dry and beyond restoration. I removed an old leather covering in similar condition once and it was a dusty mess. In fact, I may have contracted 'leather lung'! Besides, the handle is broken, the bellows is questionable at best, the lens may or may not clean up and even if it did, it won't be anything spectacular. The shutter's another story. In short, save your money and go buy another camera.

If you're in love with the camera and the proprietress won't make a price, ask her to put it on Ebay so you can bid on it. It sounds like she has no idea what it's worth. But in her mind, warped as it is by having lived in that antique store for years, old = valuable. It's old, therefore it must be valuable and she's not going to risk losing her bustle by letting it go cheap.

Antique stores almost never are a good place to buy cameras (or for that matter, old radios or telephones). Occasionally miracles do happen. But their whole perception of the market is very different from a photographer's. Ebay remains a good place to buy if you're patient and careful. And there's still the occasional camera show. You're not far outside of DC and Baltimore. There's other stuff around.

Brian Ellis
17-Mar-2012, 08:47
You see this or similar cameras in the large format section of ebay all the time. I haven't tracked them carefully but IIRC in good condition (i.e. much better than this one) they seem to sell in the $150 - $200 range. I don't think the one you show is worth more than maybe $50 considering its condition, unless the seller happened to luck out and found someone who really wanted this camera and enjoys restoration work.

Richard Rankin
17-Mar-2012, 09:19
I'm with Will and Brian on this one. I wouldn't pay more than $20 for it, but most likely would walk away.

You can take the leather off and varnish the underlying wood sometimes and it looks ok. The lens sounds hopeless, and 3 stuck wooden 5x7 holders aren't worth much. Since you haven't opened them, you don't know if they are plate or film holders but either way, they aren't worth much. You can find better cameras on Ebay, or you could put a WTB in the classifieds here if you wanted one.


E. von Hoegh
17-Mar-2012, 09:25
That poor camera looks like it spent way too much time in a damp basement. I'd probably pay thirty or forty bucks for it, and restore it just because I dislike entropy.
Unfortunately, the proprietor of the store probably watches all those dreadful antique shows on TV and thinks it's worth thousands.

17-Mar-2012, 13:38
I'd happily buy this camera to restore, as it is, it would fetch more than 30-40 USD in the UK :D But like others I wouldn't pay too much.


17-Mar-2012, 14:19
Thanks for the replies, all! My intentions for this camera would be to restore it and use it to take photos. I don't believe in shelf-sitters and don't own cameras I can't actually use, and I'd use the hell out of this if I had one.

As it happens, I do know that they are plate holders, as I did get one of the stubborn little buggers to move enough to peer inside and see the slots are plate-thickness. I never said they wouldn't move at all, just that they're sticky.

I think she told me she saw one sell on ebay for $500+, but it was probably one of those listings where the person is super-optimistic and she probably didn't actually see it sell, just saw it listed for that. Like the jokers on Craigslist and Ebay who want $500 for a used AE-1 and three shitty zoom lenses.

Keep the opinions coming! I'm not going to enjoy telling her what you all told me, as I do think she's got an antiquer's view of value rather than a "real world" sense of it. Stuck-shuttered brownies for $50 sort of mentality. The car hobby calls it "Barrett-Jackson Syndrome".

Nevertheless if I manage to convince her it really IS not worth all that much, I'll still try to take it away. As it happens, I really *am* digging it. She even said as I was taking pics of it that she recognized the "little boy finds a BB Gun at a yard sale" look in my eyes :)

17-Mar-2012, 14:26
She mentioned a $500 auction; that means at BEST she probably won't take less than $250, which is totally ridiculous for something that, if described as a "beater," would be the most optimistic use of that word I've ever seen.

Last night I was in a junk (oops, I mean antique) store and they had a Yashica Electro marked "$100. works!" I opened it up and there were pieces falling out of it. Yeah the shutter "clicked" but didn't actually move. The lens was opaque. These guys have no clue.

17-Mar-2012, 14:43
Ten Bucks is too much.

17-Mar-2012, 14:55
These are fun cameras to have and use. But that shutter is not accurate on its best day, I recovered one a while back. Brought it back to new condition. The owner had me put a Tessar on it in copal. On the collector market in MINT and they do show up in mint. maybe 350. But on average 160.00 is much more typical.

Peter Gomena
17-Mar-2012, 23:13
Yes, it's restorable with a good deal of work. What's nice about these cameras is that they're stored closed, so the pretty parts are protected. Try to find woodwork like that today! Yes, the lens is probably toast. I own a camera of similar age in working condition, and I've used it many times. It's shiny and nice and has its original convertible rapid rectilinear lens. I paid $125 for it at a swap meet 10 years ago. Your example is worth about 1/3 of that with a bum lens and rotting leather. Much better examples can be found with a little hunting.

Peter Gomena

18-Mar-2012, 12:54
Run from this one and run fast. There are many others that require less time and money that are worthy of your attention.

18-Mar-2012, 14:33
Several reasons I would not waste any more time with this:
1. The seller talks prices that are wildly above the high water mark on similar mint cameras.
2. The seller won't even put an actual price on it, so she's a novice; unwilling to research, but also unwilling to make a mistake.
3. Even in premo (pun on another ROC camera) condition, they just are not that collectible.
4. They are not very useful with their tiny lensboards and low-end lenses.

If you want to shoot one for fun, find another in excellent condition for around $100, and don't waste any more time messing with this person who probably won't even sell it. I had two similar experiences this month at a camera show. Both sellers brought LF items, but then when asked what the price was said, "I don't know yet...." One had several LF lenses, and another had a Goerz Artar in an Ilex and a 5x7 enlarger. Anyone that asked the prices got "...I don't know yet...I'm not sure...I'm working things out still..." But if you made a fair offer, they didn't even realize it, and refused until they "knew more." These people are a big time waster.