Balda  –  Vintage Camera Brand

Balda Brand Overview

Balda logo

Founded: 1908 — Dresden, German Empire
  (modern day Germany)
   
Currently: Balda AG

Balda Brand History

Balda is a German brand founded in 1908 by Max Baldeweg in Dresden, Germany. Although not quite as legendary or well-known as many of its contemporaries like Agfa or Zeiss Ikon, Balda found their success in other ways such as manufacturing cameras like the Voigtländer Bessy AK for other companies who would then rebadge them for sale.

Camera production became a vital part of Balda in the 1920s, especially its glass plate and rollfilm cameras which continued until the outbreak of the Second World War. As part of the war effort, Balda converted its factory to manufacture gauges for the Luftwaffe (German air force) and suffered severe damage as Allied bombs rained down upon the city in February 1945, less than three months before Germany’s formal surrender. As was the case with many Dresden-based camera companies, Balda split along with Germany after World War II when Max Baldeweg fled to the West German city of Bünde where he reestablished the company as Balda Kamera-Werk in 1948. The East German government seized what was left of Balda’s operations in Dresden and renamed it Belca-Werk in 1951 before merging it with several other companies to form the company now known as Pentacon.

Balda Kamera-Werk continued to produce high quality consumer cameras in West Germany for sale under its own name as well as other brands until the mid 1980s. After that, camera production was moved to China in 1985 where it continued until it fizzled out sometime in the 1990s. The company then reestablished itself as Balda AG in 1999, left cameras behind, and refocused its efforts towards manufacturing medical equipment, electronic components for mobile phones, and high-precision plastics for consumer electronics, optical devices, and automobiles.

Interested in starting or growing your own collection of Balda 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), 76-84.

“Balda – a success story,” Balda Group, http://www.balda-group.com/corporate/balda-group/history.html

“Dresden 1945,” Akhil Kadidal, https://chindits.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/the-bombing-of-dresden.pdf

“Balda,” Camerapedia, http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Balda

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