Ansco  –  Vintage Camera Brand

Ansco Brand Overview

Founded: 1842 — New York City, NY, USA
   
Currently: defunct

Ansco Brand History

Ansco was an American brand founded by Edward Anthony in 1842 as E. Anthony & Co. in New York City. In 1847, E. Anthony & Co. expanded into photographic supplies before becoming a camera manufacturer in 1870. Anthony merged his company in 1902 with Scovill & Adams, another camera manufacturer, to form Anthony & Scovill which become known by its shortened name “Ansco.”

Shortly after the merger and the moving of its headquarters to Binghamton, NY, Ansco filed a lawsuit in 1902 against the emerging giant Eastman Kodak for patent infringement regarding rollfilms and was awarded $5 million (about $118 million today) when the lawsuit ended a good twelve years later. However, the damage had already been done by Kodak leaving Ansco in financial dire straits despite the courts ruling in their favor.

In 1928, Ansco was bought out by the German photographic firm Agfa and rechristened as Agfa-Ansco. Agfa-Ansco began thriving after the takeover, producing significant amounts of cameras, films, and photographic papers. When the United States entered World War II in 1941, Ansco’s operations were seized by the US government as enemy property because of their German ties. A significant portion of production was shifted to military optics to aid the allied war effort and the “Agfa-Ansco” brand was reverted to just “Ansco.”

Business continued to boom for Ansco after World War II, producing 2 million cameras per year at its peak but things soon began slowing down and Ansco transitioned into selling rebranded cameras from other manufacturers like Agfa, Ricoh, Chinon, and Minolta in the 1950s. In 1967, Ansco changed their name to General Aniline & Film (GAF). They continued to sell their films and cameras under that name until they eventually withdrew from the consumer camera and film market in 1977.

In 1978, the Ansco trademark was sold to Hong Kong’s Haking Enterprises Ltd. which resurrected the company as the Ansco Photo-Optical Products Corporation. Haking Enterprises sold inexpensive plastic cameras under the Ansco name until the 1990s. The Ansco trademark registration was canceled by Haking in 2002 and has not been renewed since.

Interested in starting or growing your own collection of Ansco 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, USA: Centennial Photo Service, 2001), 35-38, 48-58, 237, 263-264.

Osterman, Mark and Romer, Grant B. “History and Evolution of Photography,” in The Concise Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, edited by Michael R. Peres, (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2008), 43.

“Ansco (Serial Number 73185631),” United States Patent and Trademark Office, http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4808:lqohj0.3.4

“Ansco,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansco

“GAF Materials Corporation,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GAF_Materials_Corporation

“Ansco,” Camera Wiki, http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Ansco

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