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Visiting Argos

No, it doesn't look like much

I normally visit antiques shops looking for cameras; you never know what you fill find there. There’s quite a few quality levels when we’re talking antique shops and that one was more an indoors junkyard than a shop; these are the kind of shops I normally like, but hell, all that stuff looked like it had been dug up from a dump.

The ‘camera section’ was a glass cupboard filled with trashed brownies, 8mm cameras, some rusty SLRs and three or four folding 6x9s. When I took a close look I could not believe what I saw: an Argos. The salesman was a royal pain in the ass: he had the theory that folders are worth at least fifty bucks cause people like them as paperweights. To be honest, it was my bad: if you are before a dishonest salesman and you take interest in something, he will double the price. Fifty bucks paperweights. Man, tell me where this kind of customers are, because it they’re paying this for a paperweight they would give a million for a Leica.

I got it, anyway. This camera was made in the post-war era in Spain (that means from the forties onwards), a grindingly poor and wretched country that banned the importation of practically everything. So, Spanish manufacturers would corner local markets without great products. With junk, basically, and this was a paradigmatic example. Now we are at the very opposite end of the deal: everyone is allowed to sell here, no matter if it’s stuff made by slaves in some other country where we don’t see how they drown in their own sorrow and pain. I have to tell you: I’m sick of us all.

Back to the Argos, this camera was sold by OsmiaService, which before the war had been the official distributor of Univex cameras in Spain, selling Univex cameras manufactured locally. Even when OsmiaService’s agreement with Universal expired, them happy spaniards kept using their name without license, because, what the fuck, our nazi allies, half-gods as they were, were going to win the war anyway, and after that, who was going to enforce US intellectual property? The two first versions of the Argos were called Única III and Única IIIa, just like real models of Univex designed cameras were called in the local market. I don’t know for sure why the last model was rechristened Argos.

Few units would have been made, all with shoddy quality and abysmal design. It is very provable that their owners simply disposed of them once they had the opportunitty to get something better. Thus, this is a very rare camera, a jewel for a collector. In the 1940’s few pawn shops would have taken them, now they’re rarities. I don’t wan’t to understand this world no more.

And yes, it is for sale.

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