Agfa  –  Vintage Camera Brand

Agfa Brand Overview

Founded: 1867 — Berlin, North German Confederation
  (modern day Germany)
   
Currently: AgfaPhoto GmbH

Agfa Brand History

Agfa is a German brand best known for manufacturing film, photographic paper, and cameras. Among its accomplishments is the Agfa Optima, the very first mass-produced camera to have an automatic exposure system.

The company was originally established as Aktiengesellschaft für Anilinfabrikation (Corporation for Aniline Production) in 1867 before they decided to abbreviate that down to just AGFA. Agfa produced photographic chemicals and film products until 1925 when they merged with a number of other German chemical manufacturers (including BASF and Bayer) to form the giant conglomerate IG Farben. They also absorbed Bayer’s Rietzschel camera factory in Munich at this time and began producing cameras.

In 1928, Agfa acquired the American photographic company Ansco and licensed them to sell Agfa cameras in the American market under the brand name Agfa-Ansco. Decades later, Agfa-Ansco would fall back under American control, be renamed General Aniline and Film Corporation (now known as GAF Materials Corporation), and drop the “Agfa” from their brand name.

Shortly after the end of World War II, IG Farben was forcibly dismantled by the Allies for their cooperation with Nazi leadership in supplying the pesticide Zyklon B for use in concentration camp gas chambers. Twenty-four IG Farben directors were indicted during the Nuremberg Trials, including Agfa’s director Fritz Gajewski. While over half of them were found guilty and served prison terms, Gajewski was found innocent and acquitted of all charges. After the dissolution of IG Farben, Agfa emerged as its own independent company again before becoming a subsidiary of Bayer in 1952. In 1964, Agfa AG merged with Belgian photographic company Gevaert Photo-Producten N.V. to form Agfa-Gevaert N.V. which would remain under Bayer’s control until 1999.

Agfa continued manufacturing film cameras until the early 1980s and then produced a series of unsuccessful entry-level digital cameras from the mid 1990s until the early 2000s. In 2004, Agfa-Gevaert sold off its consumer imaging division which reformed itself as AgfaPhoto GmbH. However, within just one year, AgfaPhoto filed for bankruptcy and now licenses the Agfa name to other imaging companies who make printing supplies, digital still cameras, and action cameras among other products.

Interested in starting or growing your own collection of Agfa cameras?
Check eBay to see what’s available.

References:

McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 2001-2002. (Grantsburg: Centennial Photo Service, 2001), 11-38, 237.

“Agfa – History,” The Agfa-Gevaert Group, http://agfa.com/co/global/en/internet/main/about_us/history/index.jsp

“Agfa-Gevaert on the insolvency filing of AgfaPhoto GmbH,” The Agfa-Gevaert Group, http://www.agfa.com/global/en/main/news_events/2005/CO20050527_agfaphoto.jsp

“AgfaPhoto Consumer Products,” AgfaPhoto Holding GmbH, http://www.agfaphoto.com/appc/content_manager/page.php?ID=193772&dbc=7249ae350927572e2a6dbd40c6044533

“COMPANY NEWS; BAYER SELLS ITS STAKE IN AGFA-GEVAERT TO GOLDMAN SACHS,” The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/31/business/company-news-bayer-sells-its-stake-in-agfa-gevaert-to-goldman-sachs.html

“Agfa-Gevaert,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agfa-Gevaert

“IG Farben,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IG_Farben

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