The Value of a Picture


| September/October 1993



409 Mills Lane New Albany, Indiana 47150

Most of the old iron collectors and hobbyists I know generally have some pictures to show off. They usually include their rare or specialty pieces and maybe some 'before' shots of a unique basket case.

On several occasions, I have read in this very publication, that someone arrived home and took a couple of quick snapshots of their prize before unloading it. When I acquired my first engine, I actually only had a curious interest in old engines, and it took about a year, off and on, to get it restored. By accident, I was my own salvation on this project. I wanted a couple of pictures of the engine as I had gotten it, and since the film had been in my camera for several months, I wanted to get it processed. Actually, I had forgotten what pictures I had taken on the roll of film. Anyway, I kept circling the engine and snapping pictures until the film was used up. (About 8 exposures.) By the time I was ready to re-assemble the engine, I wasn't sure how everything went together. With the aid of a magnifying glass and that handful of pictures, I managed to get it back together and running.

I don't plan on taking that long on another engine, but I have a similar problem. I'm often working on more than one project at the same time, so before I start cleaning or disassembly of an engine, I take pictures from all angles. I try to take detailed close-ups of intricate areas, i.e., the head, igniter, magneto, crank and gears. After developing, I keep the appropriate pictures in an envelope with the project until it is completed. These pictures have become as valuable to me as a wrench or screwdriver when working with my 'toys.'

I hope this never happens to anyone, but can you imagine how the average insurance adjuster would deal with trying to fix a value on a 50-year-old gasoline engine 'which has no current value as a machine or tool?' (Settle down, that's not my view, just how a businessman would put it into perspective!) In this case, a few good pictures of the finished product would certainly add value to the old saying, 'One good picture is worth a thousand words.' I'm not aware of any 'Blue Book' of antique engine values; a lot of value on antiques is based on condition, and what better way to prove condition than pictures?

Ditto, the above, if some low-life manages to get possession of your treasures, without your permission, and you have to provide the police with detailed descriptions! In this case, one picture is worth ten-fold a thousand words!