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Monday, 01 April 2013


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At least they didn't try to make you pay the $300 plus a "disposal fee." That would have been a real kick in the . . . .

I feel ill.

Wow, what a crazy story. I can't believe they didn't tell you how many days you had.

I too have been bumping up against bureaucracy recently, and it's totally maddening. Smart people divest themselves of rational thought as in favor of the short-sighted and often arbitrary "rules."

Well, let's hope the rodents of DC found those cameras and have put them to good use.

Please, Mike, tell me this is an April Fools' joke. If not, I think I'm going to be sick, even though it wasn't my loss.

Please tell me it's an April Fool's joke.

The alternative is too painful to imagine.

30 x 20.000 in todays money....600.000....ah, at least you saved 40 bucks.


Don't worry, you can always go to eBay and pick one up for US$20,000 to US$35,000, although those have the more common 50mm Elcan.

This is truly horrifying
Reminds me of the 100's of warbirds that were chopped up for scrap fresh off of the assembly line after WWII
Now would be worth millions

The same bumbling incompetence that could have scored you the deal of the century on those cameras also worked equally well to take them away.

This story makes me want to cry.

Wow. That's amazing. I thought that I had a good story about passing up a KE7a body for $700 when I was in grad school at RIT in 1974. Best deal I ever got was for a model A Leica in a junk shop in Brewer, Maine. It cost me $35. I held on to it for about seven or eight years and sold it to a collector in Japan for around $800. Wish I still had it.

That story almost made me ill.
Not because things should be kept just for the sake of keeping them, but because bureaucracy so often seems to see disposal as cheaper than re-use.
I have a similar story about some old Leitz microscopes...

Saddest story ever written?

I think I'm going to be sick...


Only a government operation would refuse getting some money for surplus stuff and instead pay someone to haul it off to a garbage dump...


Heartbreaking, although I have to ask--if the government knew that anything that failed to sell would be discarded, why on earth would there be assigned minimum prices? Isn't $1, or in this case, $260, better than $0? I guess, as you said, the ways of the Federal Government are mysterious.

This was painful to read Mike, but a good story all the same.

Now that's one that really got away. Estimates go upwards of $20K+ for one in mint condition. Brand new? Who knows.

'Discarded' could mean that some lucky chap got paid to haul the stuff away!

Happy April Fools', by the way.

April 1st, right?

April Fools, Right?!

Thanks Mike,

Now I have another reason to lie awake at night...


All I could think in my honest mind is, "oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!" Wait a minute. It's April Fools Day! Oh no no no!

If this is true, then it's truly sad.

If not, then it's a beautiful story, completely consistent with your normal written voice, and much truthier than, for example, the story about the retired Navy dolphin oral history project ( http://www.npr.org/2013/04/01/175956386/oral-history-project-hopes-to-preseve-memories-of-navy-dolphins).

My God, I must be the most gullible person around. I just came off another April Fool's joke on a different site, so I clicked over to TOP thinking "Let's see what Mike has hatched - perhaps a new 4x5 waist-level DSLR or something." And then I read, thinking "no April Fool's today, just a story about a surplus auction." Halfway through, I'm hooked. By the end, I'm saying to myself, "Uh oh, and I was fully prepared."

Yeah right! What a day it is today!

It's April 2 here, if that be an excuse.
Completely taken by the tale (crate markings quoted in bold type:). I was going to comment that Stephen Gandy got 'em.

Very cruel! I had a knot in my stomach... a knot! ;-)

"Mike replies: And you know who designed the Combat Graphic? Hubert Nerwin. No kidding."

I could have sworn I mentioned that on the previous post ans something about how similar it was to the radioactive Kodak Instamatic 814 rangefinder camera with a thorium oxide Ektar 38mm lens and a spring motor drive.

About ten years ago I worked at a government wind tunnel site, DERA Bedford, which pretty much closed down while I was there. There was a sealed bid auction. I came away with a Wrayflex camera, a Minolta 9000AF kit including the motordrive and the rare EB-90 100 exposure back, and some taps and dies.

I paid about £108 for the Wrayflex; I'm not sure now if it was a Mark 1a or Mark 2, but I took it to a classic camera shop and got £500 for it, a fair price at the time.

Just recently I have been preparing the Minolta gear for Ebay. The camera, motordrive, and back run off a total of 14 AA cells and six LR44 button cells. Good grief!

The metric fine tap and die set is very useful for working on Japanese motorcycles, but I have never used the huge taps, dies, and handles that I didn't realise were part of the lot when I made my bid.

The site did aerodynamic tests on Concorde models, and the 8' X 8' supersonic tunnel had, I'm told, a fine record for consistency. I met the (retired) man who had designed the ogee shaped wings on Concorde. A lot of work was done on the Harrier at Thurleigh airfield a mile away, but when you see an early Harrier, actually a prototype, hovering in a wood it was filmed at nearby Twinwoods airfield where Glenn Miller took off for his final flight.

You got me hook, line, and sinker. Although part of me did think, "Wow, that's impressive that he remembered EXACTLY what was written on that manifest..."

When I was in college in the late 60's, the army surplus rumor involved Indian Motorcycles packed in drums of creosote for $50. Great grist for the fantasy mill. There was also the Jeeps packed in creosote rumor. We had a lot of cool rumors back then....I think.

Mike, Looks like you snagged a couple of folks with your April Fools story. Nicely played. My all time favorite was the NPR story about exploding Maple trees. You might want to check that one out.

Nice one ! NPR didn't get me, but you did :)

I did once read in the British Journal of Photography around ten years ago about a pallet of Hasselblad lenses that had been built with slightly radioactive elements. When it came to disposal time, the Ministry Of Defence had someone wave a Geiger counter over them. As a precaution they were crushed.

Lets hope Steve Huff didn't read this post....PTSS therape is expensive these days :-).

Had me fooled though.....but having worked for the Dutch Airforce via Compaq, I know a thing or two about NATO style military cost effectiveness and the hillarious effects that can have....if you are not the one footing the bill but the one writing it, and that's at least was no april's fool.

Greets, Ed.

This is not an April fools day joke! is it?

D'oh! And here I thought I made the whole day without getting fooled. Well played, Mike!

Good story, but I have to put in a little formal complaint: to my mind, to be called an April FOOLs' joke, a story has to be at least a bit outrageous. So the person can laugh and say "of course, I was a fool for believing that". So far as I can tell this story was entirely realistic.

BBC had a video of a group of pinguins who could fly. It was very well done. But if you understand aerodynamics just a little, it's clear that they simply can't, with small flappers for wings.

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