What Do You Keep When You Whittle a Collection of 2,300 Cameras Down to 200?

Every photographer, at some point, becomes a collector too. Some photographers collect lenses worth thousands of dollars a piece. Others collect camera bodies of a certain brand. David Silver collects old cameras and at one point he had over 2,300 of them.

Now his collection has shrunk to a little over 200 and the focus has become razor sharp. Instead of every kind of camera Silver now collects only box cameras with a mid-century modern flare. You, at some point, might have collected box cameras too—they’re the disposable cameras that were so popular before smartphone cameras ended their necessity. The Kodak Brownie is another box camera you might have heard of.


Silver’s collection of box cameras, including a dozens of colorful Savoy toy box cameras is a little further out there. Beyond his love of mid-century modern, Silver also has a small collection of bellows cameras like they would have used at the dawn of photography. The rest of his once enormous collection has been sold and now Silver spends his times working on a book detailing the history of cameras and operating the International Photographic Historical Organization, which identifies old cameras and helps sellers locate buyers.

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Senior Consumer Tech Editor. Trained her dog to do fist bumps. Once wrote for Lifetime. Tips encouraged via Secure Drop, Proton Mail, or DM for Signal.


Iron Man's Pants

It’s surprising how much cameras can depreciate. I was going to sell an old Nikon (35mm) SLR in perfect condition from the mid-90's. It’s essentially worthless. The same happens to digital cameras since the specs are always improving.

Keeping cameras for the aesthetics (and not the value) is a good reason to have them around for me. Some cameras, like my Nikon SLR with it’s 90s style metallic champagne plastic body, have no redeeming aesthetics though.