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So What's an Argus C3 Really Worth?

Thomas Jones , Jul 23, 2010; 11:27 p.m.

99 cents to $4.99 plus shipping.... at least that's what I've bought dozens of the foggy, filthy in-need-of-disinfection cameras for on eBay. But, what would a freshly serviced C3 fetch, and what better proving ground of any item's worth that eBay? So, I took two recently CLA'd C3's from my collection and put 'em on eBay in separate auctions. No flashy auction descriptions like "STUNNING!!!", "CAN'T PASS UP!!!", etc. Just a simple, thorough description of the camera with a photo or two and a notice that if you don't like it, I'll return your money.

C3 #1 sold for $75 and C3 #2 went for $51, a total of $126.00 for two former junk cameras I may have paid a dollar or three for. The owners are happy and have already left feedback.

I'm suprised. Who would have guessed?


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Andy Collins , Jul 24, 2010; 12:07 a.m.

Those are beautiful cameras!

Rick Drawbridge , Jul 24, 2010; 12:27 a.m.

I'm not surprised in the least! Those prices seem very reasonable, to me...the buyers will probably double their money inside two years, the way auction prices seem to be going. Beautiful cameras, superb presentation, Thomas.

william Richardson , Jul 24, 2010; 01:12 a.m.

Ya just gotta love a good brick

Thomas Jones , Jul 24, 2010; 01:25 a.m.

Well thanks! I didn't figure on camera compliments (blush). Both were completely stripped when I resurrected them from the dead. Years ago it would take me several hours for several days to do a C3, now I can whip one up in about 2-hours. The glass in these two cameras is perfect even when viewed with a backlight and a loupe. The leather cases on the C3's found these days have rotted away, but generally did great jobs in protecting the cameras except where moisture was involved.

I have a couple boxes full of C3's that I haven't even got around to looking at yet, and more boxes of lens and parts. Then there's my collection of Argus in the Den, a four-shelf bookcase which runs the entire length of the wall with some of the cameras double stacked... these are the ones I've already serviced, and the eBay'd cameras came from that collection.

I've given away quite a bit of stuff at no cost to forum members just for the satisfaction of knowing that another Argus lives somewhere. I just donated a ground glass viewfinder, back, and focusing hood for a Argoflex E. If you need a part for any Argus model, I probably have it.

I know... I'm sick, I'm an Argus Addict. But, at least it's a cheap habit. I could be hooked on Hassies and Rolleis (and divorced).

Thomas Jones , Jul 24, 2010; 01:33 a.m.

How's the top C3 look... the one with the top leatherette removed? I've always thought the C3 had too much covering on the front. The front cover beneath the cover polishes up really nice with a dremel. I know it leaves three screwheads exposed, but how can it matter on a camera which has its entire focusing guts hanging out the front? If the buyer had complained I was going to send him the strips. He didn't.
The lens on the C3's can vary in optical quality although all do a good job when stopped down to at least f/8. My best lens to date defies reason. It is one of the older uncoated lens with the oddball f-stop markings and so sharp you can shave the dog with it. I set that one aside! :)

Rick van Nooij , Jul 24, 2010; 06:05 a.m.

$126 for 2 C-3 Cameras?! Incredible! Looks count for everything I guess.
I never paid more then $10 for one. Ever.

Sounds like an impressive collection Thomas. My "Argus collection" has only just started. I recently added an A2 and a C-44 to the C-3 that I've had for a few years

Subbarayan Prasanna , Jul 24, 2010; 08:50 a.m.

If some one bought it for $10 and had it CLAed in the US it would cost him/her more than $100. Considering that they got a very good bargain from you. Actually these items cannot be costed objectively by any one standard measure. The CLA would cost around $100 in the US while it would cost around $50 in Eastern Europe and only about $20 in India. Also, the buyer's desire and sense of utility or esthetics or ownership play a big role in the bid price. Interesting topic; and you have done a great job in restoring them. However, if you keep your data secret you might get better prices. :) sp.

Mark O'Brien , Jul 24, 2010; 10:04 a.m.

Timing and condition and good photos of the cameras are everything. It just so happens that this month's Shutterbug has an article by Jason Schneider on 5 influential cameras. The Argus C-3 was one of them, of course, and he opnioned that one in good condition (like your examples) was worth 40-50 bucks.

JDM von Weinberg , Jul 24, 2010; 12:03 p.m.

I guess you were also lucky.

There's no doubt that the intrinsic worth of the camera, as opposed to its value is great. It's as SP says, I don't think your buyers "overpaid" for what you sold them.
For one thing, you aren't considering the labor-value of that two hours of informed labor that you put into them. To make an obscure point, the labor value in socially-necessary labor was much higher than 2 hours.

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