65 Years Ago - October 1949

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by marc_bergman|1, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. Welcome to October 1949.
    Let us start with an article titled "Pictures Sell Peace".
  2. Now let us look at an all time favorite.
    Is your lens sharp?
  3. Here is an article on taking beach pictures at sunset.
  4. Here are this month's camera equipment ads.
    Check out the EMDE Products ad.
  5. Here are this month's dealer ads.
  6. That is it for October 1949. All comments and suggestions are welcome.
  7. Nicely done. Here's an addendum that is necessary to contemplate when comparing 1949 prices to today's:
    Just a reminder that in 1949 there still was a "wartime" excise tax on optical and photographic materials of 25%.
    Here is an editorial from the December 1949 issue of Modern Photography:
    Photography is being hurt by an excessive Federal Tax. No matter how you look at it, you are directly affected
    It takes no crystal ball to see that photography as a serious hobby or business takes a sizable outlay of money today. Regardless of your individual interest in photography, you are affected by these high prices. If you are a manufacturer or retail dealer in photographic equipment, your sales tell the story. If you are an amateur or professional photographer, your pocketbook is proof that something is wrong. A basic cause of the high cost of photographic items is a Federal Excise Tax of 25% levied against most items of equipment, and 15% Excise Tax charged against films and plates. These are two of the most illogical and discriminatory taxes on the records. Let's disregard, for a moment, the merits of amateur photography as a wholesome recreation that binds family ties closer together by providing a hobby in which everyone can participate. Even if amateur photography were a selfish luxury that only the privileged few could enjoy, the man with a camera is stuck with more than double the excise tax he would have to pay on firearms, shells, or sporting goods. He even pays 5% more on essential equipment than a wealthy dowager pays for her furs and jewelry. Consider the professional photographer. On cameras weighing more than 4 pounds he avoids the excise tax. But what is a camera without a lens, shutter, and a host of accessories? On these accessories, and on the film he uses, he pays the same excise tax that burdens the amateur. In short, the professional photographer is taxed on his working tools in such a way as to penalize him for choosing photography as a means of making a living. The Excise Tax on photography started off modestly enough in 1941 when a 10% duty was imposed. In 1942 an additional 15% was added on equipment to raise revenue for conducting the war, and to discourage manufacturers from diverting war materials into less essential items in public demand. A third purpose behind the tax was to counter inflation by keeping masses of people from bidding the prices up on scarce items. No one will argue the justification of such taxes during a national emergency, but this is 1949. The President and Congress are now urging business to reduce prices so that consumers will be willing and able to buy. Paradoxically, the Excise Tax which delivers the knockout punch to prices already skyrocketed by the labor and materials situation, is stubbornly maintained.
    Who expects to gain by the exorbitant tax on photographic equipment-the manufacturers? Not for a moment. The constant goal, the eternal headache of the manufacturer, is to find a way to reduce the price the consumer must pay for his goods. Ever anxious to provide dealers with new selling points so as to widen his markets and increase his sales, the manufacturer is dead set against unfair Excise Taxes. Chipping even a part of the present tax off the items he has to offer would automatically increase his sales, keep his assembly lines and employees working, and let us all enjoy photography more fully. Do the retail dealers want the Excise Tax? Certainly not. To stay in business a dealer has to be able to supply his customers with good equipment at a fair price. A 25% Excise Tax takes the edge off of any deal. More important, it makes the dealer afraid to stock his shelves. Hanging over his head like the Sword of Damocles is the fear that the Excise Tax will suddenly be lifted without warning. When -and if-the tax is lifted, the dealers and the wholesalers will have to hold the bag for all the merchandise on which they have paid their taxes. There is no rebate allowed. If the manufacturer, the dealers, the consumers, and all the people who make their living out of photography nowadays suffer as the result of the high excise tax, who, then, is for the tax? Obviously the government is the only one for the tax.
    Although the President, in 1946, said he was in favor of removing wartime taxes, he later reversed himself on the grounds that the government needs all the funds it can get because it is operating on a deficit. Strangely enough, however, the government is losing too because when taxes go too high the "law of diminishing returns" gets in its licks. The total volume of amateur photographic sales alone in this country is estimated at the retail level of around $400,000,- 000 to $500,000,000 a year. Enormous though this figure may be, you have only to reflect upon your own purchases to recall that you passed up a number of items you would probably have bought had the price tag been more reasonable. Multiply your own buying hesitation by that of millions of photographers who are in the same boat and you reach the conclusion that sales would increase tremendously if lower taxes permitted lower prices. Such additional photographic sales would unquestionably reflect itself in the use of more raw materials, more employment and, consequently more money pouring into the Treasury. Opposition to the Excise Tax, or at least to the amount of Excise Tax levied against photography, is widespread. But so is opposition to war, bigamy, murder, and other anti-social activities. Opposition without action achieves nothing. If you feel that the Excise Tax on photographic equipment is both illogical and unjust; if you sincerely want to do your part to improve the situation, pick up a pencil and drop a note to your congressman and your senator. Tell him briefly what you think and why you think it. You can rest assured that he will listen.
  8. Thanks for the look back. Always interesting.
  9. Now we're really getting back beyond an era I can recall... Fascinating, Marc; the "Pictures Sell Peace" article is a classic read in it's own right. Quite strange to see all those dealer ads with almost no Japanese names; an early Konica and one of those little Tone cameras (typical of the US occupation period) were about all I could find. Many thanks.

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