Ever since Impossible Film came out, and especially after playing with Paul’s camera, I kept thinking that an SX70 would be a very nice addition to my collection.
The trouble is that since Impossible Film came out, those cameras have gone through the roof on eBay – gone are the days when you could pick them up for a tenner.
Every once in a while I do a quick sweep on eBay and see what’s on offer, usually disappointed about having to spend £100 or more, so I look over to my trusty Polaroid 600 I got for £2.50, the one that started my Polaroid Adventures Addiction. Much better I kept thinking.
A little while ago I came across an auction for a GOLD PLATED Polaroid SX-70. Only 500 were ever made to celebrate the tremendous success of the Edwin Land’s integral film and the easiest instant picture ever: The iconic square Polaroid.
Here’s a rare collector’s item that only comes up once in a blue moon. The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that this auction was put there for me, and that I was meant to get this camera.
I had some doubts though: how much would my final bid have to be to get competitors out of the way? The current bid was $450 and I expected this to go up by at least 50%. The listing was very well written with lots of detailed photos, showing the camera in pristine condition, so other nerds were bound to get easily hooked. Just like I did.
The Golden SX-70 was located in Reno, Nevada. That really spoke to me. Julia and I got married in Vegas, that’s in Nevada too. It feels like an old friend was waiting for me over there all these years 😉
Very touching I thought, but it’s mental mumbo jumbo said my brain. You’re buying an overpriced toy that takes bad overpriced pictures. Period.
Doubt ridden I contacted the seller and asked about the focussing screen. I’ve heard that the original silver SX-70 cameras don’t have a split focussing aid, which makes it really difficult to use them.
Patti was wonderful! She got back to me immediately, confirmed the focussing aid was present and said “I really hope you win this wonderful camera”. And so did I 😉 Check out her marvellous eBay store My Orphaned Items and grab a treasure or two.
I conferred with several colleagues and told them about this auction: should I bid or should I not? Is this a tremendous waste of money, or a real investment? We all figured that The Impossible Project will only get bigger and attract more followers over the next few years. Everyone encouraged me to bid, and Paul said I may even end up with a bargain.
The auction ended at 2am in the morning UK time, and despite an early start for me the next day, I set my alarm clock so I could watch the last 15 minutes live. I had my budget set aside, and I was going to bid with 3 minutes to go. But I also knew that if someone would outbid me with some extortionate amount I wouldn’t get into a war.
At the same time, I knew somehow that this auction was there for me and no one else. It sounds arrogant I know, but the situation reminded me of a short story by Franz Kafka called “Before the Law”. In it, the protagonist is being told by a guard: “Don’t walk through that door – it’ll be the worst decision you’ll ever make”. Plenty of time passes, and our hero is about to die. The guard walks over to him and says “this door was only there for you – I’m going to close it now”.
I wasn’t going to give in to that guard, nor the voices telling me this was too much money. This was a once in a lifetime chance, an opportunity, something I connected with the moment I saw it.
My bid was $507 with only 2 minutes to go. At this time of night, European audiences should be in bed, but I was prepared for bidding competition from the US and possibly Asia.
One minute to go. Nothing happened. I was still the highest bidder. Two previous parties had been battling in out in the early stages of this 10 day auction, I had expected one of them to come back. But they didn’t.
30 seconds to go. I know how sniping works, and if someone would place a bid now it would be impossible for me to come back with a higher bid. 10 seconds is the deadline for the final snipe, if you leave it longer than that your bid may not get through.
And there is was… 3… 2… 1… Ebay said: congratulations, you’ve won this item! I paid immediately and savoured the moment.
I didn’t know that Patti was watching too, and she sent me a lovely message saying that it’s so rare someone waits up this long, fully appreciating how late it must be where I am. There we were, buyer and seller, thousands of miles apart – Patti in Reno, me in London, both watching the same auction.
The next challenge was to ship the camera over to the UK. Patti promised me during the night that she would post it the next day. Thanks to USPS, I could track the progress of my package as it travels the globe. How exciting!
I received a prompt email with the tracking code from USPS in the afternoon, however one line of my address was missing. Royal Mail over here are fairly clever, but I didn’t want to take a chance so I contacted Patti and asked if she could add the missing information online somehow.
And guess what? She managed to speak to David, the clerk at the post office who handled the package originally. He then went and dug through a huge pile of parcels, found mine, opened the clear plastic and hand-write that missing part of my address on the label. I was thrilled! Thank you David 😉
The last hurdle was getting the camera to my door. I received a letter from the Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise department regarding Import Duty, which I duly paid and scheduled my delivery.
So now it’s here in London – and it’s an absolute beauty!
Thank you, Patty, for making this marvellous piece of photographic history available to me. Thank you David at the Reno Post Office, and thank you to all my friends and colleagues who have encouraged me to buy it.
Now let’s take a look if this puppy can take pictures 😉
34 thoughts on “My Golden Polaroid SX-70”
Nice Bling Sir! Pimp my Camera!
Can you believe I found ANOTHER one on eBay yesterday? I was temped to get that one as well… but that would have been silly.
Imagine I’d collect all 500 of them? Now THAT’S a mission…
congratulation to your buy.
I worked for some years for Polaroid Germany. I still have one brand new SX-70 gold ,never used, original packed, not even opened.
So we are 3 of 500 lucky owners.
Do you remember how much it was when it came out, or was it given out as a present? That’s going to be worth a fortune! Hold on to it 😉
Maybe we should found the Golden Polaroid Club!!
I’m looking to buy, would you sell your Gold SX-70?
It’s a priceless collector’s gem – but it depends on what you’re offering. Drop me an email and we can discuss it: jay at versluis dot com.
I have one as well … my late father bought new back in the 70’s. I have two old Minolta’s as well. History. Vintage indeed.
Awesome – thanks for sharing!
I keep thinking I should put a site together where all Golden SX70 owners can register their camera – see how many of them are still around.
i chanced upon your post while i was searching for more info about my camera, and i have one too! also, i would like to check with you, do you know why some of the gold cameras have serial numbers on them, and some doesn’t?
mine doesn’t come with the serial number
how cool is that – there’s more Golden Owners out there!
I’m not sure about those serial numbers – mine hasn’t got one either. I guess the Golden Polaroids were so rare they didn’t put them on there (even though serials would have made them even rarer). The full production SX-70’s have serials I believe.
My Father has a 24k Gold plated SX70 Sonar, which was given to him as an award for having the #1 most succesful polaroid camera shop in the mid-west U.S. during the mid-late 70’s. He even has the plaque and pictures that went with the ceremony.
This particular golden batch was drawn up for a wealthy middle-eastern shiek who gave them as gifts. Just so happens Polaroid gave one to my Dad too 😉
Hey that’s superb info – thank you! Does your Dad remember when and where this event was?
I had no idea they did the Sonar in gold too. Would you mind taking some pictures and sharing them with us? There’s so little info about the Golden SX70’s on the web.
Don’t ever sell it – and tell you Dad well done for having such a successful camera store 😉
Hi all camera lovers! I would really LOVE to have one of these. Do you have any idea where I can find one? I have seen it on eBay, or does anyone of you are planning to sell yours? >v<
POLAROID NEVER DIES
that’s the spirit! I have to say the more I use my Goilden SX 70 the better the results are getting, I’m constantly amazed!
But where to get one: eBay is the only place I can think of. Standard SX 70 cameras are fairly common and go for about £100. The golden ones are rare but they do come up – in fact a week after I purchased mine I saw another listing for a camera from the UK. It went for about £300… I nearly bought it too but then I thought maybe that’s silly and let someone else have one. Then again… I’m still thinking of missed opportunities now and again.
When you get an SX70 make sure it’s not the Model 3 as that’s not an SLR camera. Alpha 1 and Model 2 are the ones you really want.
Good luck 😉
Thanks a lot for you suggestions.
Actually, I have already got 5 SX-70s. I really want the rarest one into one of my SX 70 Collection!
I see, I see… a connesseur of the SX 70 😛
Stay subscribed to this thread, if ever I find a listing or someone who would like to sell a Golden SX 70 I’ll post a comment here.
Yes, and subscribed.
Please do tell me if someone is planning to sell one of them~ =]
I’m planning to get one sx-70 and I see your recommending the Alpha or model 2, but as I as browshing through ebay I see that some of them just say “sx-70 land camera” and dont specify the model or anything… are those good?
thank you! nice posts!!
They all have subtle differences. There are four folding models in total: the original SX 70, then the Alpha 1, followed by Model 2, and lastly model 3. I think. There may even have been the model 2 alpha, not sure. You can tell by what it says on the front of the camera underneath the lens.
The Alpha 1 has a couple of improvements over the original model: a tripod thread on the bottom, fill flash capability and hooks to attach a neck strap. I also find it closes better at the front. Model 2 is pretty similar but has a plastic body instead of metal I believe. These models are not covered in leather but with something called provair which has a tendency to disintegrate over time which is why some models look so rough on the outside. Still good cameras though.
The only one I don’t recommend is the Model 3 as it’s not an SLR camera. It looks exactly the same but the insides are all different and you can’t focus through the lens.
Hope this helps – and enjoy the SX 70 adventure 😉
That is QUITE the lovely SX-70. Wow!
Thank you 😉
Now with the new Impossible Gold Edition it’s just marvellous!
As a Polaroid camera-owner, I got shivers down my spine reading this story! I agree – the right person won the auction. Good on you.
Thank you, that’s a very nice thing to say!
Happy New Year 😉