LaBelle  –  Vintage Camera Brand

LaBelle Brand Overview

LaBelle logo

Founded: 1937 — Oconomowoc, WI, USA
   
Currently: D&H Industries

LaBelle Brand History

LaBelle Industries was an American brand founded in 1937 in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. The company seems to have been primarily focused on manufacturing stamped metal products and delved into the photography industry almost as an afterthought. In fact, LaBelle is probably best known not for the LaBelle Pal—its only camera—but for manufacturing ammunition magazines for the M16 rifle.

Not much is known about LaBelle and even the D&H Industries representative that I contacted informed me that they no longer have any documentation from that era. However, rooting around auction sites and doing some research online shed some light on past products. Besides the Pal, LaBelle also sold other imaging products such as various slide and filmstrip projectors including an amazing portable Super 8 cartridge viewer with a built-in screen that allows users to watch Super 8 films anywhere with an electrical outlet. Other LaBelle products included door lock assemblies, audio tape players, and the aforementioned rifle magazines.

It’s unclear when LaBelle exited the imaging industry but in 1993, LaBelle changed its name to Quest and then, four years later, changed it again to D&H Industries. D&H continues to manufacture ammunition magazines and also offers product manufacturing, laser cutting, and welding services.

Interested in starting or growing your own collection of LaBelle 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), 104.

LaBelle Advertisement, Popular Photography, December, 1948, 204.

“Our History,” D&H Industries, http://www.dhmetalstamping.com/our-history/

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