Hunter Vintage Camera Brand
Hunter Brand Overview
|Founded:||c. 1920 — London, United Kingdom|
Hunter Brand History
R. F. Hunter Ltd. was a London-based importing and distribution company founded circa 1920 by Robert Forgie Hunter shortly after his return to England from fighting in the Great War. The company offered a range of photographic products including some quirky cameras like the stainless steel Gilbert and functioned as an official distributor for Rollei and Franka in the 1950s and 1960s.
The company’s first known address was 40 Doughty St. in Central London but later moved to 51/53 Gray’s Inn Road sometime after 1930. Shortly before Britain declared war on Germany in 1939, the company was chosen as the official UK distributors by Franke & Heidecke (better known as Rollei). Concerned with Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, Paul Franke himself reportedly brought his son to London and asked Robert Hunter’s son Cyril (who was managing director at the time) to personally look after him. During World War II, the company operated out of a stately home in the Bedfordshire town of Leighton Buzzard and survived by repairing photographic equipment for the Royal Air Force.
After the war, production of Rollei cameras resumed but export quantities were restricted until the late ’50s. As its UK distributor, Hunter sold a full range of Rollei products and was eventually reborn as Rollei UK Ltd. following a move to the town of Wellingborough in Northamptonshire circa 1970. Due to a changing market as well as Japanese competiton, Rollei’s sales suffered considerably and declared bankruptcy in 1981. Hunter/Rollei UK Ltd., was shuttered.
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McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 2001-2002. (Grantsburg: Centennial Photo Service, 2001), 282.
“R. F. Hunter,” Camerapedia, http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/R._F._Hunter
“RFHunter history,” photomemorabilia.co.uk, http://www.photomemorabilia.co.uk/Paterson/RFHunter_History.html