Our employer closed business early on Friday so my colleagues and I happy danced our way out the door to the tune of Born Free into the three-day weekend. The weather was lovely as I entered the subway station determined to have a highly productive 72 hours focusing completely on household chores and writing. Just as I set foot on the subway platform I noticed that I received a text message from my buddy, Coco.
45 minutes later, my original plan is drowning in Sangria.
On our way to Sangria-land, Coco and I walked from TriBeCa through SoHo. As we strolled west on Houston Street, we passed several street vendors selling their wares. We have sauntered past street vendors countless times without them ever registering on our radar, but on this occasion, one stand that was essentially full of junk caught all four of our eyeballs. In lockstep we motored over to this table to further inspect a Mad Men-era Polaroid 150 Land camera.
Coco: This is such a cool camera!
The vendors, two women in their mid to late sixties, or maybe they were in their late forties and just looked to us as used as the goods they had on display, or possibly they were in their late seventies and they’re of French descent, and are actually aging far better than the rest of us … but I digress. However old they were they were oblivious to Coco and I drooling over this relic designed by Polaroid’s founding father, Edwin Land.
Coco: I want it!
Since I am the older and by default more level-headed half of our equation, I frequently remind young Coco that there is no such thing as retail therapy. It is infinitely more important to save than spend. Therefore, I dole the following advice:
Me: Go for it!
It’s a camera and cameras are my kryptonite, and apparently, they’re Coco’s, too. You know someone for over six years and go figure, you continue to learn new things about them every day. Coco signals for one of the vendors to approach.
Coco: I’m interested in this camera.
The vendor takes it out of the box, and shows us how to open and close the bellows. She has no idea how old it is but insists that being in the original box enhances the value.
She’s pretty certain that this camera is still operational. Upon hearing that, I briefly escape my delirium.
Me: But they discontinued making the film.
Vendor (cornered): They discontinued making the film? Huh. Hm.
Coco: How much is it?
The vendor asks her partner the price and is told $50.
Coco (boldly to vendor): I’ll take it!
Afterward, we are sipping our Sangria and chowing on tapas with the camera on display on our table.
Suddenly, we both have an eiphany and do a spit-take at each other:
Me: You could have bargained with them! We had leverage! The film’s obsolete! Why didn’t I think to tell you this? Am I losing my edge?
Coco is wiping my Sangria out of her eye.
Coco: What’s wrong with you, what’s wrong with me? Am I so used to shopping at Barney’s I have no clue how to price haggle with old ladies selling junk on the street?
Then Coco reasoned that even if she did overpay for it by $15, she’s okay with springing for drinks for those vendors.
We later did some research on that camera. Approximately 400,000 Polaroid 150’s were manufactured between 1957 and 1960. In its heyday, it sold for $109.95, the equivalent of $873.14 in today’s dollars. Upon reflection, Coco got a pretty sweet deal on this novelty after all.
Bad influence, indeed! Now I want one!!!!!!
Hey Kathy, there still might be some more of the 399,999 other ones out there!
I want one too. Just because it would be awesome to make lingerie studded with camera parts. I’m pretty sure that’s how I’m going to make my living from now on.
How entrepreneurial, Natasia!
The Impossible Project makes film for most Polaroid camera at
http://shop.the-impossible-project.com/shop/film. So Coc could possibly shoot the camera if she is so inclined. There is also a great mechanic who repairs the Land cameras and is a great Polaroid guru. Anyways,
enjoyed finding your blog via the NY Times!
Wow, that’s so kind of you to share this feedback with us, Dorothy! Thank you for checking in. You rock! Also, I checked out your blog. Great pix! Thanks for including your link.
sorry for the typos-
Coc- I meant Coco
Polaroid camera should be Polaroid cameras.
I guess you can tell that today my two teens still at home started back at school!!!
Hey, considering you have a lot of other far more important things on your mind, it’s super cool that you checked into LA with that feedback! I’m glad that one of my snarky NYT comments brought you to my site.
I had a Polaroid (black and white film) “Swinger” camera in 1966. They’d just come out the year before and were touted in a t.v. commercial with Barry Manilow singing the “Meet the Swinger” jingle featuring a young Ali McGraw. I still have pictures of my son when he was a baby that we took with that camera. It didn’t take the greatest photos and they were kind of small, but it was fun to watch the film develop right before your eyes.
Here’s a link to the commercial on YouTube:
Thanks for sharing that YouTube link and for verifying that the woman who looks exactly like Ali MacGraw is indeed Ali MacGraw since Lame Adventures is a treasure trove of the trivial! My dad had a Swinger back then, too. You’re right, the pix were small and I will add, crummy. According to the inflation calculator the $19.95 price for a Swinger in 1965 would cost $140.15 in 2011 dollars indicating that we have had a long history of paying handsomely for gadgets.
Oh I love those polaroid cameras.. I envy you for having one! So far all I have is Hipstamatic on my Iphone hah!
I envy your iPhone. Have you made yours Hipstamatic by parking it in a black leather and studs case like my fashinista pal, Coco, does with hers? I’m just a lowly dweeb with a dumb phone — and a buddy with a vintage conversation piece camera!
I love old cameras, too (and new ones) so when I read you paid $50(!), I had to look it up through my furrowed brow. http://polaroids.theskeltons.org/value.htm or http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_value_of_a_Polaroid_150_Land_camera I’m sorry! But also, you can convert it to 110 if you can’t find original film and still use it.
First of all, Coco paid the 50 clams, not this schmuck-ette, but I doubt anyone could find that camera for ten or twenty buck-a-roos in NYC. We pay more for everything out here, but Coco and I both know that had we thought to bargain, we could have gotten those two sisters of Monty Hall to make a deal with us.
They still make 110 film? Huh. For a girly-girl with a home bathroom that could easily double for the cosmetics counter at Bloomingdale’s Coco’s intrepid but somehow I don’t see her converting that camera herself — and I’m only handy when it comes to doing an online search for someone that can do that sort of thing.
Thanks for checking in, it’s always cool to hear from you Allen!
Oh, also. Fujifilm makes three types of pack film which will all work in these types of Polaroid cameras. I’m just chock full of information tonight.
Wow, you are a spewing fountain of information tonight. Is this the Fuji film you’re referring to that Coco can use in her camera?