Paul Rybolt retired 10 years ago, after a lifetime working in the photographic industry. “My dad was a photographer and I helped him make prints before I started school. After college and grad school,” he tells Kosmo Foto. “I gravitated into the photo industry where I had a store for 33 years. We primarily serviced the military, law enforcement, medical and newspaper markets.
Retirement hasn’t stopped him buying and selling cameras, except this time it’s more of a hobby.
“It’s been fun and it keeps me connected,” he says. “Since my retirement I’ve been buying and selling used equipment as a hobby. In December of 2018 one of my old customers who was also a good friend passed away and left me his collection. In August of 2019 I took possession of over 800 cameras and lenses, some of which are still littering my house.”
Even the biggest of his hauls can’t compete with one that took place a few weeks ago, however. A man who had been a customer of Rybolt’s died. “I connected via his brother who was a police officer that I knew in this area. The owner of the collection bought a few things from me but most of it came from eBay and other sources.
“His brother told me several times that I wouldn’t believe how much there was. He was correct. There was a 10x15ft storage unit full plus more in his house. Most of it was perfectly labelled and bagged with silica gel in each bag. However, I’m finding stuff in boxes that take my breath away when I run across them. Today I found a brand new Rollei 35B in the box with a lot of Polaroids cameras.”
Rybolt hasn’t yet counted everything stored in plastic container after plastic container, but he calculates it must be about 1,500 cameras. Amongst them is a sizeable range of Soviet models the collector had built up. Rybolt has been sharing pictures of a fraction of the haul on various Facebook photography groups: Nikkorex leaf-shutter cameras, East German Contax SLRs, solid early 70s Minolta SLRs.
“The Russian cameras are interesting because he bought both domestic and export production. There are probably 200 Soviet cameras.
“As far as what’s there; there were not any one single item that has great value. No Leicas or Rolleis. A LOT of Canons, Nikons and Olympus cameras. Hundreds of Nikon point and shoots.”
Rybolt says many of the working cameras will go to Boston’s F Stop Cameras to be sold online. But many of the others will find their way on to Rybolt’s own eBay shop.
“I’ll sell much of it in my eBay store. The lower value items (two large tubs of Bakelite cameras and some of the Russian cameras) will go in my Etsy store as they sell as decorative pieces.
“I always keep one piece from each large purchase that I make. In this case it will probably be the matte-black-painted Kiev camera.”
For those curious about just what hidden treasures might be in the collection are advised to bookmark Rybolt’s eBay shop – be believes the collection is going to keep him busy for at least a year.