I like tools of all kinds, shiney new ones and old, well used ones. My favorites are the ones that have belonged to my father and grandfather as well as the nicer ones(obviously well cared for, dad and grandpa kept their tools in good shape too)I come across at swap meets. The condition says something about the previous owner, just as does the 'feel' a tool acquires from having been held in a certain way. I even find my mom's old kitchen gadgets pretty cool.
Old cameras are tools too, like old wrenches, razors, carpenter's planes, apple peelers, mixing bowls, shotguns and driving hammers. Since, through economic neccesity I use old cameras I've become aware of the intrinsic beauty and energy these tools seem to me to possess. Most large format cameras, I'm sure, were at one time professional tools and the idea that somebody once used them to earn a living, shooting portraits, newspaper stories, or advertising copy intrigues me. Though I'm not a professional photographer, I really can appreciate what the former owner went through and the connection he or she had with this particular camera---it was a tool used to pay the bills, buy shoes for the kids and a badge of identity as only tools unique to a trade can be. Even old 'family' cameras seem to me to have considerable historical significance. Hold one and think about it's first owner, who selected this very piece of bakelite and glass you are holding now to record the visual history of his or her family and life---births, vacation trips, land marks like the first day of school, weddings, visits from friends and relatives living far away, holidays, holloween costumes and parties. I wonder if my family's current Elph and Stylus (carry a digital/carry a back up)will attain the stature of Dad's Brownie Reflex which while fungus ridden and terminally dented (from a fall off the roof of a '54 Buick the morning we were leaving for an annual camping trip to Yosemite, no less--Dad would have bought film at Best's Studio) occupies a resting place of honor in my desk drawer.
Think of it---this history comes with buying and using an old camera, and the book isn't closed yet, because through some good fortune I've been selected to write the next chapter. Something to think about the next time you're lugging your heavy old view camera over hill and dale---and something I'll think about when shooting my kids in their Halloween costumes with my Bride's Point and Shoot.-------------Cheers!