Franka  –  Vintage Camera Brand

Franka Brand Overview

Franka logo

Founded: 1909 — Stuttgart, German Empire
  (modern day Germany)
   
Currently: defunct

Franka Brand History

Franka-Kamerawerk was a German brand founded in 1909 by Franz Vyskocil and his wife Leoni as a small camera factory and photographic supply shop in Stuttgart, Germany. Franka produced a huge variety of relatively inexpensive cameras for both domestic and export markets and, at its height in the late 1950s, operated one of the biggest factories in Bavaria.

Shortly after the Vyskocils started their business, they decided to move from Stuttgart to Bayreuth, a town in northern Bavaria, and rename the company Vysko-Fabrik Franz Vyskocil, St. Georgen und Bayreuth. A third partner joined the company one year later and it became known as Weigand & Vyskocil. The name was then changed once again two years later in 1912 to Frankonia-Kamerawerk. The Vyskocils left the company in 1913 and, after taking on a new partner, Weigand changed the name yet again Hogaschwerk and then, five months later, it finally became known as Franka-Kamerawerk.

Franka made glass plate cameras in different sizes throughout World War I and marketed them heavily to the kaiser’s soldiers with slogans like Mit Franka in den Krieg (with Franka to war). Franka continued exclusively making plate cameras until 1930 when they finally entered the rollfilm market, creating medium format, 35mm, and subminiature models. Operations peaked in 1958 with Franka employing 154 workers. In 1962, Franka was bought out by Wirgin, another German manufacturer who continued to sell Franka cameras under its own brand as well as the Wirgin name. Production ceased in 1966 and much of the equipment in Franka’s Bayreuth factory was dismantled and moved to Wirgin’s home base in the city of Wiesbaden.

Interested in starting or growing your own collection of Franka 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), 228-232.

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

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