Keppler’s Vault 19: 1953 Directory of Photographic Equipment

GAS…  Or for those of you non-collector types out there, “Gear Acquisition Syndrome”, is something that doesn’t just apply to camera collectors, but any group of people who drool over ‘gear’ and want to acquire it.  The concept of GAS certainly isn’t new as trade shows, magazines, fan clubs, and other sources of information have been causing enthusiasts to drool for decades.

Before the Internet, photographers and amateurs had to rely primarily on magazines like Modern and Popular Photography to get their fix of ‘drool-worthy’ gear to look over, and although I’m sure each new issue brought forth something new and exciting, on occasion, there would be something to kick the GAS into overdrive.

This buyer’s guide appeared in the May 1953 issue of Photography Magazine.

Such is what happened in the May 1953 issue of Photography Magazine (Edit: thanks to reader Michael Wescott Loder, he told me that in 1953, Popular Photography renamed itself to just Photography Magazine, but changed back two years later) when the 1953 Directory of Photographic Equipment was published.

Below are 26 pages of practically every camera, lens, and film that was available to dealers in the spring of 1953.  There’s the expected Leicas, Rolleis, and Kodaks, but there’s some less well-known models such as the Drepy folding camera, the Elizaflex TLR, and the Rubina Sixteen II.  There are watch cameras, Japanese toy cameras, press cameras, Japanese cameras, rebadged cameras, if it was able to be purchased in the United States in 1953, it’s probably here.

The film chart at the end is quite interesting too as it not only has a large list of available films at the time, but it has their ASA speeds, and filter factors together in an easy to read chart.  This information wasn’t always easy to find on early films for those who collect old films.

I can’t help but fantasize which of these I might pick up if time travel was possible as these prices are so low (who wants a Nikon rangefinder for $259?!).  Sure, when adjusted for inflation these costs are significant, but since time travel is science fiction, why not throw out details like the Consumer Price Index!

Normally in my Keppler’s Vault series, I try to highlight historically significant articles, useful how-tos, or those with a good story to share, but this is just one big GAS-inducing buyer’s guide.  I’m sure you’ll forgive me, but perhaps your bank account won’t!  If you do end up buying something as a result of something you saw here, be sure to let me know!

All scans used with permission by Marc Bergman, 2018.

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