The Wards Camera Catalog: 1938

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by danny_zahner, Aug 3, 2005.

  1. Here is an interesting read for those interested in cameras and supplies from the late 1930's. Enjoy!!!
  2. TOO COOL Danny, I own examples of the camera's on page 7. Thanks
  3. You are bringing new blood to his forum. Thanks for the info.
  4. New blood to a Classic Camera forem How intreaging. LOL Some of the best and lost classics were sold by Sears and Wards J.C. Penny only sold name brands. Tower Cameras From the Folders to Plastic were top rate. and they even had an interchanageable lens line ... Many Sears Screw mount lenses were made by a company that was famous for their screw mount. and not the German company.
  5. Great ads. That was fun to look through.

    Unfortunately I don't own any of the cameras, but I do own one of the external rangefinders they showed on page 8 ("B" to be exact). First time I've ever seen it other then the one I own (got it in a box of stuff from a local auction).


  6. Neat stuff Danny, as an interesting little tidbit, it was Aaron Montgomery Ward who fought hard to have Chicago's downtown Lake Michigan shoreline wind up as the beautiful park it is and not just railroad yards and industrial frontage. Spent many a happy afternoon there when I lived in Chicago in the 70's. Prices look cheap now but back then were likely to be a full weeks wages or more for many of the cameras listed. Now.....if I only had a time machine....
  7. Consider that $126 Retina II price when a NEW car could be had in 1938 for about $500 to $600. Makes it clear that a $3300 Leica M7 is not so insane in comparison to historical prices, as you can just barely buy a new car for $13,200. It's just that all the other cameras got so much cheaper due to technical innovation...

    Also interesting to see the Bantam Special cheaper than the Retina. Not anymore.
  8. Am I to understand that film speed units were "Westons" before the days of ASA?

    I saw an external rangefinder at an antique shop about a year ago. Have to admit I did not connect it with photography. I was thinking survey work or maybe sighting in a mortar.
  9. I love the copy:

    "Many fans paid $115!"

    "Why pay $29?"

    Regret and questions we all experience on this forum I am sure.

    I'll take the Reflex Korelle and the Primarflex. Those are nifty.
  10. That's the stuff of dreams, Danny. O for a time machine!
  11. John, if you think the Retina was expensive, I have seen other catalogues showing the Zeiss Ikon Contax rangefinders selling for $200-300 (depending on 50mm lens) in 1938!

    That was a fun read, too bad no cameras in there that I own.
  12. Tom - If I remember correctly, Weston film speeds pre-dated the ASA and DIN standards, which were both superceded by the ISO standard. Over the same period, the FSU used the GOST standard.
  13. According to the Inflation Calculator, the Retina II would be $1621.81! Although that's about the price for an 8MP DSLR with lens, so it's not too different. Some of the lesser cameras equate to today's prices of the P&S digitals and such. When one looks at prices, I can really see why Argus held the 35mm market.

    One interesting thing is that film costs $0.27 for 127 and $0.32 for 120/620. That's about $3.48 and $4.12 respectively. My how film has actually come down a smidge. ;) I also wonder how many Kodachrome users were out there at that time. I mean, 18 exposures was $2.29 including processing which equates to about $29.48! I can see why it never caught on with the average user for some time.

    By the way, if anyone wants to know where I got these numbers, check out this nifty tool.

    Great book and thanks for sharing! Perhaps once I get my scanner, I should scan this old trade stamp catalog my dad has, though that's about 25 years after this catalog. ~_^
  14. Hey, I can swing $69.95!! Send me my brand new Weltini II, please!
  15. It's interesting to read. Compare it to the catalog page at
    prices38.htm though. I'd rather the Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta B with f2.8 Tessar and Compur-
    Rapid for $119. To get that good a lens and shutter on the Welta gets you up nearly $100 as

    Fun stuff. Thanks for sharing it.

  16. OCULUS New York

    OCULUS New York Still shooting, but posting less here.

    Just great stuff. I was surprised to see Albany listed on the cover as a Catalog Center. I pass by that enormous building everyday--long since a converted multi-office/warehouse complex. That's probably the last time Albany was ever listed as a regional center for anything.

    I know that Wards offered Leicas and Rolleis in the early 50s.

    Ray Hull
  17. Old catalogs are a treasure and a valuable research tool. A while back in the b/w film forum I was trying to pin down the introduction dates of Super XX and Panatomic X. The picture of 1938 Super X and Panatomic helps close the gap. (I'm thinking about 1940 for those two films.)
    BTW, my oldest catalog is a 1965 Lafayette Electronics. It did list a few cameras, including an Ansco rangefinder. Just love old catalogs, still have my 1969 Edmund Scientific. It has a Russian MTO mirror lens listed.
  18. Danny, thanks for the post! A feast to my eyes!

    I have only 2 cameras from the catalog: The Bantam Special, whereas mine was made in 1945 (ER) with the coated Ektar f2 lens mounted on a Supermatic shutter, and the popular Argus C3 made in 1946. My Leitz rangefinder is present too! Amidst the film developers, I found the Defender's Formula 777 Panthermic, fine grain developer invented by Harold Harvey. It was used by HCB.
  19. tgh


    If you look closely at the "brick" shown, it's not a C3, but a C. They had a non-coupled rangefinder and no connections for flash. You used the rangefinder to find the distance, then set this on the lens, which had its own distance scale. The C2 had a coupled rangefinder, but no flash connections. Then the C3 had both. C2's are actually kind of rare to find today and C's are even more so. C3's are the common ones.

    What I find interesting is the shipping weight was listed as 2 pounds. A C3 weighs 1 lb, 12 oz, so this only allowed 4 oz for packaging.
  20. Todd, you're right!
  21. It's a long time since the last post, but for what it's worth for those interested here are a few more pages from the same catalogue.
  22. p.10
  23. p.11
  24. p. 12
  25. p. 13
  26. p. 14
  27. p. 15
  28. p. 16
  29. p. 17
  30. p. 18
  31. p. 19
  32. p. 21 (p. 20 is posted above)
  33. p. 22
  34. p. 23

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