Classic Camera Revival – Agfa, Ansco, GAF, and the Third Reich



In the convoluted times that was the Second World War the American photographic industry saw some interesting changes in Up-State New York, specifically in the city of Binghamton. So Alex took a trek down to Rochester, NY to speak to photographer Andrew Hiltz who has done extensive research into Ansco, Agfa, GAF, and the Third Reich. A short summary, Ansco was founded in 1842 as E. Anthony & Co, by 1901 the family has picked up the camera business of Scovill Manufacturing, becoming Anthony & Scovill, this would be combined to become Ansco before 1905. By 1928 the company has merged with German camera giant Agfa. In fact many Ansco cameras are re-branded Agfa cameras. But the USA did not directly enter World War II when Germany invaded Poland in 1939, but there was already trouble in Binghampton fearing German spies and influences. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent declaration of War on German the US government took action against an enemy company on allied soil and rolled everything up into General Aniline & Film (GAF) by 1941. While the company continued to operate well into the 1960s, today GAF no longer produces anything photographic, but rather building materials are the company’s product these days.

Ansco Super Memar with Solagon 50mm f/2 lens and Synchro-Compur shutter
An Ansco Super Memar — a rebrand of the Agfa Silette.

Chapel Doors
Ansco Super Memar – Agfa Solagon 1:2/50 – Kodak Tri-X 400

Ansco Super Memar – Agfa Solagon 1:2/50 – Kodak Ektar 100

Ansco Autoset CdS with Rokkor 45mm f/2.8
A GAF Ansco Autoset — a rebrand of a Minolta Hi-Matic

Looking for a good spot to get your gear and material fix…check out Burlington Camera, Downtown Camera, Film Plus, Belle Arte Camera and Camtech, if you’re in the GTA region of Ontario, if you’re on the West Coast (British Columbia) check out Beau Photo Supply. Additionally you can order online at Argentix (Quebec), the Film Photography Project or Freestyle Photographic.

Also you can connect with us through email: classiccamerarevivial[at]gmail[dot]com or by Facebook, we’re at Classic Camera Revival or even Twitter @ccamerarevival

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