Mithra Brand Overview
|Founded:||before 1946 — Switzerland|
Mithra Brand History
Mithra was a little-known box camera manufacturer based in Switzerland. Like all Swiss camera manufacturers, Mithras exhibit exceptional build quality although, unlike its more famous peers like Alpa, Mithra focused exclusively on basic entry-level models. There are unsubstantiated rumors that Mithra existed only as a brand name used by Agfa‘s Swiss subsidiary but for the purposes of this article, Mithra will be treated as its own standalone company.
While we do not know when the brand was formally established, we do know that the company’s first camera, the Mithra 46, debuted in 1946. The aluminum and bakelite Mithra 46 itself is entirely unmarked although we know a badged version was also sold as the “Starmetal Goldy” by French box camera brand Goldstein. The 46 featured a clever viewfinder assembly that could be rotated for either portrait or landscape orientation. This internally rotating viewfinder setup is, as far as I can tell, unique to Mithra and also shows up in its second and only other known model: the Mithra 47 which was launched a year later in 1947. The 47 was similar to its predecessor but significantly more refined: it features a graceful, rounded body that, like nearly all box cameras, could be separated into two halves. Unlike its cheaper rivals, however, the back half (and most of the front half) is crafted from a single piece of metal—a presumably costly and entirely unnecessary feat—with no seams to be found.
Like its origins, we know almost nothing about Mithra’s end. The company appears to have vanished sometime in the early 1950s, having only ever manufactured two box camera models.
Check eBay to see what’s available.
McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 2001-2002. (Grantsburg, WI, USA: Centennial Photo Service, 2001), p 250-251, 478.