The word MINT gets thrown around a lot on Ebay and many people write to me asking if I have any MINT condition cameras available for immediate sale at a low price.
Mint means "Just like out of the box when new". I have seen two Contax IIIa cameras sold on Ebay which were brand new, in the original box, with the original papers and case, lens and lens cap. These were truly mint cameras. One was a black dial and sold for $1380.00, and the other was a color dial and sold for $1800.00. So to me MINT means that on the average one camera is worth the same total amount as it would take to buy about five normal cameras in very slightly used condition.
If you are going to purchase a Contax to actually use, why spend the money for MINT? If you use the thing it won't be mint for long and the depreciation is very steep. It seems to me the best thing to do is to buy one that is within your budget and which is 100% mechanically, optically and electrically. After all, a camera is for taking pictures and it doesn't matter what the thing looks like if it will not take a good picture or fails to work at the critical moment.
My simple advice is this. If you see a camera for sale and it is described to be mint, but it is for sale for much less than $1400.00 then it really isn't mint, and who is fooling who anyway?
I do buy cameras and rebuild them for sale. Most are not mint. But all are as close to 100% mechanically, optically and mechanically as it is possible to obtain. Each is fully guaranteed for one year and each and every one of them will is reliable and take great pictures.