Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Trade In German Cameras.

         Since the appearance of our note in the "British Journal" of March 28 last this unpleasant subject of the trade which is now going on in German cameras has cropped up in one way or another somewhat freely in the daily Press. For example, we have noticed two German cameras advertised for sale in the "Personal" column of the "Times" Both, were described as new, and in one case the complete set, comprising a focal-plane camera of a type little sold in this country before the war, a well-known objective, and three double dark-slides, was offered at 24. Curiously enough, a correspondent drew our attention to a new German camera at thing same price being displayed in a London dealer’s shop window. It is therefore evident that the trade is still going on and is passing, not merely through the channels of the lay Press, but also of the dealer’s establishments.
         A paragraph in the "Daily News" takes us to the source of this illicit trade. The writer quotes from a circular which, he states, is being distributed in the streets of Cologne. On the outside page is printed in big type, "Now's your chance. You will never get a good German camera as cheap again." On the inside pages of the circular are stated the name and address of the firm of dealers and the names of the photographic makers the four best known in Germany whose goods are obtain able. A characteristic touch is provided by the announcement in the largest type, "English spoken."
         But the most remarkable contribution to this matter which we have met in the lay Press is contained in the London letter of the "Westminster Gazette" of April 2. The writer makes the most extraordinary deductions from, the fact that a camera can now be bought in Cologne for about 6, which in pre-war times would have cost 13. According to him, the subsequent appearance of these cheaply bought cameras on the English market seriously disturbs the second-hand dealers here from the fear of the value of German-made lenses and cameras held by them being depreciated. If the writer had taken the trouble to find out he would have discovered that the volume of trade which has arisen since the armistice is altogether too insignificant to have the result he suggests. Certainly the dealers are disturbed-disturbed by the fact that the necessity of taking steps to put a stop to this trading with the energy should be imposed upon them as a consequence of official apathy in taking the matter in hand. The Photographic Dealers' Association in a letter addressed to the ''Westminster Gazette" by the President, Mr. James A. Sinclair, and appearing in the issue of the 10th inst., points out that in most instances dealers are refusing to deal in apparatus which has been made since the war commenced, and which) is now reaching this country through the purchases of soldiers in the army of occupation, although the purchase and re-sale of these new cameras would be very profitable to them. But the writer in the "Westminster" is apparently obsessed with the ideas that by some means or other photographic dealers have during the war maintained the prices of second-hand German-made cameras at a highly profitable level, and is thus led to impute their desire to exclude the new instruments merely to motives of self interest It would be interesting to "know along what line of reasoning the writer eliminates the public from this conclusion. Let the dealer price his second-hand German cameras as high as he liken, or, for that matter, as low as he liken, they would stay on his shelves unless the public bought them. In matters of tariff reform writers in the "Westminster" are eager to lay emphasis on the laws of supply and demand on which obviously the sale of the goods in question solely depends. When war broke out there must have been very considerable stocks of German cameras distributed throughout the second-hand trade. Clearly no stigma could attach to dealing in them, and if as we have said; the public has been willing to pay highly for them the dealers have been entitled to profit. The writer in the "Westminster Gazette" now suggests that dealers "should have done with this trade" in order that they may avoid suspicion of selling new German cameras now coming into the country. Surely a drastic enough remedy for a state of things which ha been none of the speaking of dealers in this country.
         The only remedy for the present difficult v is that the bringing of these goods into the count should be prohibited. The leading dealers have no doubt set their faces against trading in the goods, but unless all are solidly in this policy there will obviously be the inducement: to every one of them to take part in it from the knowledge that if he does not purchase the goods some- body else will. Moreover, there are the channels of the auction room and advertisement in the lay Press. We believe that representations have been made to the Ministers concerned, but very little may be expected from those quarters. It may, therefore, be hoped that the whole influence of the Photographic Dealers' Association will be thrown on the side of reducing the market for these cameras. Probably the most effective means of this kind would be the publication of a list of dealers refusing to purchase any cameras which they have reasonable ground for assuming to be of recent importation. A restriction of market would have its reacting effect upon prices, and would thus apply the most effective discouragement to the bringing of these goods to London for sale.
         In conclusion, while we are upon the subject, we should not refrain from reference to a message by Renter's Special Service from Cologne which appeared in the ''Daily Telegraph" of March 31 last. Dealing with the wider opening of the door to trade between Germany and the occupied zone, and discussing also the resumption of trading relations between Germany and Great Britain as a means of Germany paying her share of war expenses, the writer singles out "camera parts, lenses, etc.," as goods which England "is ready enough to receive." It would be interesting to know what grounds Reuter's correspondent has for making a statement which every evidence goes to show is the very antithesis of the facts.

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