So, when I was a kid, I had this camera that I always played with. I always just assumed it was a toy, as did my parents. Up until a couple of weeks ago, we were convinced it was a FisherPrice camera. Or maybe Playskool. It was a toy, but I always knew that it could be used as a real camera if we had the right film. I don’t remember when we got it, or when it disappeared. When I got my Holga, about five or six years ago, and saw the size of the film (120) I was convinced that was the size used in this ‘toy’, from what I remembered of the spool. I was curious about that camera. I had to play with it! I kept tearing apart the toy room at the parents’ house but could never find it. We still have about 90-95% of all our toys from when we were kids. Sadness. I decided to look for it online but even Google was no help. I didn’t know that was possible! I could not find a toy camera that matched what I remembered it looking like.
Then, one day a couple of weeks ago (Monday, 9 June, to be precise), I was sitting in a coffee shop randomly searching eBay. I’d had bids in on three cameras that morning and didn’t win any of them. Still in the shopping mood, I decided to just randomly search for ‘vintage camera’ and see what pretties showed up.
Half way down page five, I squeed, very loud, right in the middle of TAN. Thankfully I knew the person sitting next to me! There, in the back corner of a large lot of brownies and other cameras, was… my camera! It didn’t look like the picture I had in my mind, but I recognized it the moment I saw it and instantly even remembered what the back and top looked like even though it wasn’t shown in the photo.
I remembered the CLUNK-clunk of the shutter, flipping the black latch and pressing the blue button in the back to open the camera and ‘change the film’. The feel of the smooth molded plastic, that really does remind one of a child’s toy, and wrapping the plastic strap around my wrist and spinning the red knob even though I didn’t know what it did. Even though I had cameras with actual film in them that I used all the time, I still loved to play with my ‘toy’. To me, it looked like a camera a professional would use. I could imagine shooting some fashion magazine cover or capturing the perfect shot for a National Geographic spread.
But I still didn’t know what the camera was. The eBay auction was due to end in about two hours and was only at about $60 – a good price for the lot, but still more than I could afford. Even if I placed a low bid, I was certain I would get outbid. After I settled down from my discovery, I sent the seller a message asking for more information about the camera. Specifically – what the heck was it? While I waited for an answer (which, by the by, didn’t come until about a week or more later) I went back to window shopping.
On page six, there was my camera, all by its lonesome!
Turns out, my parents bought me a Polaroid camera made for Swingers in the 60’s. Needless to say, I did tease them for an entire weekend about it when I was there for Father’s Day weekend. Mum thinks they must have picked it up at a garage sale some time, because it never belonged to my parents. That, of course, made it all the more funny. Who knows who they bought it from? Just think of the… germs… that were on that thing while I was playing with it. It’s totally hilarious!
Anyway, so I spent the next two or three hours searching through the dozens (hundreds?) of listings for the Polaroid Swinger Model 20. Comparing prices, making sure the latch on the back was black, like mine, and not white, messaging sellers to make sure it came with the spool… By supper time I’d bought one.
And… it arrived today!
(along with couple of packages of Polaroid Type 20 (for the swinger) and 32 (for the Highlander) film)
The camera came with instructions, a case (with the original box), flashbulbs and an empty film box. It was all in very good condition, although some batteries were left in the camera. Don’t know how long they’d been there but luckily, although the batteries were clearly dead, their death did not make a mess of the camera.
It was also exactly as I remembered it! I learned a new thing: There were AA batteries back in the ’60s! The stack of three boxes of film were purchased on eBay separately but arrived at the same time. How convenient! I have one more box of film for this camera on its way.
Polaroid Swinger Model 20
Film: Polaroid Type 20
To see other cameras in my collection, check out this post.