Vintage Ansco Cameras
Vintage Ansco cameras are cameras that were produced by the photographic company Ansco.
Based in Binghampton, New York, Ansco manufactured a range of inexpensive cameras during the twentieth century and also sold cameras for other manufacturers such as Chinon and Agfa.
Ansco merged with Agfa, a German photographic company, in 1928. The subsequent Agfa-Ansco Corporation grew enormously during the pre-war era and began producing other photographic equipment, including film and paper. However, interests in Agfa-Ansco products fell rapidly due to the company’s ties with Germany and the United States government took over the Binghampton factory in 1941.
The company’s possessions were sold as enemy assets to American interests in the 1960s but the company still continued to do business until 1967 under the name, General Aniline & Film. Ansco were later bought by a Hong Kong business and continued to produce a variety of photographic equipment up until the early-1990s.
Guide for collectors
Prior to the 1960s, Ansco made millions of popular budget cameras and as a result are very common on online bidding sites such as eBay. Even when they were new, Ansco models were extremely cheap and so models in good condition today are rarely sold for more than $40.
Because of their affordable prices and invariably good condition, Ansco cameras are not only a great way to begin in medium-format photography, but are also a good starting point for any vintage camera collector. Ansco cameras that are sold with their original leather case are particularly collectable as the case usually preserves these vintage cameras in near mint condition.
The Anscoflex I and II models are some of the most common Ansco cameras yet are still highly sought after because of their fine aesthetic qualities as an object and also because they are still able to produce exceptional photographs. Both models should cost no more than $25 each on eBay and despite being constructed out of metal, shipping should not cost more than $5 depending on where the item is being transported to. Arguably the most collectable Ansco camera is the Ansco Memo, produced c.1927, the camera is leather bound and can fetch up to $200.
For collectors who wish to use the cameras practically, Ansco models usually have the film size written in the inside of the body and stickers to advise which type of Ansco or Agfa film to use. Typically, Ansco cameras use a 120-roll film, but if unsure then the collector should ask the seller. Collectors or new owners should note that B-9 is the Agfa designation for a 120-roll film.
Online photographic forums, such as Thephotoforum.com and Antiquecameras.proboards.com, or high-street photography shops that specialise in vintage cameras are always a good place to ask any queries one may have.
A rare Ansco Memo camera was sold on eBay for $250 in January 2012. The item, which featured some examples of wear and tear, otherwise still functioned properly and was sold by a German seller.
In October 2005 an Ansco Memo model was one of four vintage cameras in a set that was sold through Bonhams for £95.
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