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I’d like to imagine that this is probably the camera that shot Marilyn Monroe, Martin Luther King Jr., and John F. Kennedy. But that’s not the case. For under $400, you can own a piece of history, though. This is Sammy Davis Jr’s camera, and you get the authentication papers to prove it. The camera comes from an estate sale and is now being sold on eBay. The camera comes from a very pivotal time in American history.
Sammy Davis Jr was an American Actor. And apparently, he loved photography. Later on in life, he used a medium format camera. According to a photo on NPR, it looks like he used a TLR of some sort. But he loved this one too. According to PBS, Sammy was taught by photographer Milton Greene. And like many celebrities, his photos are on Fine Art America.
We did some more digging, and this could possibly be a photo of him using the camera. However, it looks a bit like a Nikon. We also found this image, and we’re not sure what he’s using there. Sammy most likely had a ton of cameras. Despite this, the eBay listing shows that this was indeed a camera from Sammy’s estate.
The camera in question is a Konica Autoreflex T. Matt’s Classic Cameras says that this was the camera that put Konica on the map. And if that’s the case, then an avid photographer like Sammy Davis Jr. probably would’ve gotten one. There are photos online of him in camera stores admiring the wares. I’m sure he was a bit of a gearhead.
The Konica Autoreflex T came out a bit too late for Sammy to have used it to photograph other celebrities. Unfortunately, almost all the ones I mentioned had passed away before this camera hit the market. That probably means that Sammy used the camera to capture a bunch of other stuff, though. Wikipedia states that he was an avid photographer. This camera probably caught a lot of family moments.
In my opinion, this is a pretty important find, but lots of people won’t realize it. First off, this camera was owned by a celebrity. That’s a given. It was also one that graced the presence of many other celebrities and politicians. This had to have happened considering Sammy’s earlier life. But it also was used at a pivotal time in American history. Arguably, American history is a big topic these days, given our current climate.
Here’s a tidbit from the listing:
“The item listed for sale is a konica camera that was one of the cameras that sammy davis jr used to take personal photographs (this camera has not been used since mr davis’ death). sammy loved photography and was often seen taking pictures. the pictures of him using a camera are examples of that fact (all three pictures are included with the purchase of this item). this item comes with a copy of the original treasury department certificate of registration from the bureau of customs (the original must be kept because it contains other items being sold that need a certificate of authenticity (coa also). the number on the konica being sold is 7313073, the same number that is inside of the lens on the konica camera identified on the custom’s report. this is a rare collector’s item from mr davis’ personal camera collection.”
The camera surely has some wear to it too. Of course, that means it was used. Frank Sinatra called Sammy one of the finest human beings he’d ever known.