March 9, 2015 By Christian Murray
Abdel Rios, the owner of Skillman Pets, is an avid historian—and he often dresses up his front windows with elaborate exhibits featuring 20th Century history.
Rios unveiled his latest exhibit last week that featuring vintage cameras that date from 1905 through 1950. He has 30 cameras on display at his at his 49-16 Skillman Avenue store that were manufactured in Germany, France, Russia and the United States.
This exhibit is Rios’ eighth since he opened the pet store in 2010.
“I’ve done the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Steampunk,” Rios said. However, he said, this is his favorite.
Rios has been collecting antique cameras since he bought one at a thrift shop about 25 years ago. Enamored by them, he has built a collection of more than 120 cameras.
Rios’ exhibit includes cameras that only experts would know. He has a No. 1 Folding Pocket Kodak Model that was manufactured from 1905-1907; two early German Zeiss Ikon bellows cameras that are more than a century old; and several vintage view-finders and early range-finder cameras from the 30s, 40s, and 50s.
Rios provides a description of all the cameras on display in his window. These include each cameras name, manufacturer, where they were made, and how they were received by the public. Some were popular, others were viewed as duds.
Rios, who is able to speak for hours about the history of his cameras, said that they have become great conversation pieces. “An older guy walked by the other day and knew everything about the cameras,” Rios said. “I’ve been collecting for 25 years and this guy knew more than me.”
For most residents, he said, the display brings back fond memories. “Some people would say ‘My grandfather had one of those’ or ‘my dad had that.’”
Rios was chatting away on Sunday, when an older man walked by. “Excellent buddy, I always like your stuff.”