Ica AG - founded 100 years agoby
Throughout my boyhood and my apprenticeship I often passed the old Ica-Werk on Schandauer Strasse in Dresden-Striesen, either on foot, by bicycle or tram. What the letters "
"International Camera A.G." was formed on the 7th of October 1909 by an amalgamation of four different camera factories: Richard Hüttig & Sohn, Emil Wünsche, Dr. R. Krügener and Carl Zeiss Palmos. Three years later G. Zulauf & Co. from
Carl Zeiss Jena, a leading supplier of photographic objectives to the merged firms, was the initiator of the merger. They wanted to ensure the continuity of their lens production and simultaneously gain control of
The first tentative seeds for
As is well known, I am able to produce perfect Daguerreotypes. From now on I will be selling plates of the same kind that I use, in the sizes:
I am also producing cameras, not only in accordance with Daguerre's instructions but also in accordance with mine, resulting in an apparatus that has only 1/20 the volume of Daguerre’s.
FW Enzmann, mechanic
Annen Gasse No. 8
What this mini-version of Daguerre’s camera looked like and how many copies were manufactured, no one can say today. Yet Friedrich W.Enzmann is remembered today as the first who produced cameras in
Richard Hüttig’s greatest photo-historic achievement was that in 1896 he introduced the "Zeus-Spiegel-Camera", the first SLR camera in
Hüttig’s company evolved into
The great bulk of camera production at the company, however, consisted of a confusing diversity of plate cameras and roll film cameras. The Main Catalogue from 1904 mentions 90 basic types in more than 400 variants. Examples of this great diversity are: the box-like types of “Mercury”, “Monopoly”, “Carmen” and “Trilby”, the numbered plate cameras with the name “Ideal” and roll film cameras with the name “Lloyd”. In addition there was a series of stereo cameras in both wood and metal.
In time, Richard Hüttig’s son Carl took over the company's management, but some illegal financial transactions brought him a trip to jail. The company structure had to undergo fundamental changes and the energetic director Guido Mengel was given sole responsibility for the operation. Guido Mengel worked purposefully towards the necessary large merger of 1909.
Carl Hüttig was heard from no more. The father Richard Hüttig lived off the charity of others in a small apartment and sank finally into oblivion.
Dictum: "High-flying, deep fall" also fits the next name that was on its way to the big merger in 1909. Emil Wünsche founded in
In the period 1897 to 1909, more than 400 different models of Wünsche cameras were produced, and these could again be divided into numerous variants in terms of formats, shutters and lenses. As in the case of Hüttig, so much variety was finally too unmanageable and uneconomical. Besides the nice magazine camera "Mars" were camera names like “Bosco”, “Ada”, “Afpi”, “Kolibri”, “Vitrix”, “Excelsior Syrene”, “Nymphe”, “Nixe”, “Lola”, “Knox”, etc.
In 1902 Emil Wünsche took his own life because of personal and financial problems. His companion Louis Lang led the company forward in Wünsche’s spirit. The competitive crisis in the photographic industry was so acute that the only resolution seemed to lie in the ongoing negotiations to form a large association of camera factories in
Carl Zeiss Jena began to manufacture camera lenses around 1890, and so this firm was concerned about the problems facing their customers, the camera factories of
The fourth player in solitaire on Ica AG was Dr. Rudolph Krügener from Bockenheim at Frankfurt am Main. Dr. Krügener had originally been a chemist, but when he lost a leg in an awful explosion, he demonstrated his skill and ingenuity by designing a prosthesis for himself. He began his camera production in 1888 and achieved his first great success with a camera designed as a fine old book: "Dr. Krügeners Taschenbuch-Camera”. The camera had a negative format of 4x4 cm, it could hold 24 photo plates in its magazine and it was equipped with a guillotine shutter. Krügener next produced a real milestone in camera history with the 1889 introduction of his "Simplex Magazine-camera". This camera can in good conscience be described as a prototype of the twin-lens mirror-reflex camera. The camera was equipped with a rotating shutter and two magazines. The top magazine was able to hold 24 negative plates of the format 6x8 cm. After the plates were exposed in the recording chamber behind the lens and shutter, they were shifted to the stack of plates in the lower magazine.
On his Delta folding plate cameras Krügener used an early leaf-shutter from Bausch & Lomb, but later provided his own shutters of a similar type. There were probably economic reasons which caused Dr. Rudolph Krügener to accept the need for a merger with the big camera company which was about to form in
Heinrich Ernemann was until the very end one of the most active participants in the preparations for the big merger in 1909. But when it dawned on him that he would not get the influential position he felt he deserved, he pulled himself out of the cooperation at the very last minute.
The capital of the 4 participating companies was devalued by 25 % so the total capital of the new company Ica AG became divided as follows:
Carl Zeiss Palmos 650.000 Mark
former shareholders of Hüttig 786.000 Mark
former shareholders of Wünsche 400.000 Mark
former shareholders of Dr. Krügener 400.000 Mark
Deutsche Bank 664.000 Mark
The Carl Zeiss Foundation immediately took over the stock of 650.000 Mark of the new Ica-shares, and the Foundation further increased its amount of shares until it achieved the majority and became the leading party in Ica AG."International Camera A.G." or Ica AG became a reality on the 7th of October 1909. Hüttig’s former director Guido Mengel was Ica AG's powerful leader. The company's headquarters address was in Hüttig’s building Schandauer Strasse 76, and also the Hüttig firm’s five-pointed star (the so-called Pentagram) was taken over as the logo of the newly formed company.
With the formation of the merged Ica AG, a simplification and reduction of the giant range of similar camera models became feasible. A somewhat disappointing first step was the closure of Wünsche’s factory at Reick. However, production was resumed at Reick in the following year. Ica catalogs from the years following the merger show that the reduction of redundant camera models was only partially successful. Many of the predecessor firm’s camera names are repeated. The number of plate cameras is still almost incomprehensible, but a growing number of Icarette cameras testify that roll film is gaining ground. Professional photographers were offered the bulky "Tudor Spiegelreflex-Camera" or "Künstler-Spiegelreflex-Camera”, weighing up to
Ica AG's comprehensive product range also included large travel and studio cameras, photo-copying equipment, enlargers, projectors, tripods, darkroom lamps and all sorts of big and small accessories. Ica AG also offered 35mm movie projectors, although they seem not to have been sufficient to detract from Heinrich Ernemann's established leadership in this area.
One landmark camera design went undetected. The chance was missed already in 1910 when a young foreman of Carl Zeiss Jena turned up at Ica AG in
One can say that "International Camera A.G." beginning in 1912 really became "international", because in that year, the Swiss company Georg Zulauf & Co. joined the firm. Zulauf fortified Ica AG's camera range with “Polyscop” stereo cameras, and Georg Zulauf got a place on Ica AG's supervisory board.
In June 1917, near the middle of the First World War, the leadership at Carl Zeiss retrieved the Russian-born, brilliant scientist and inventor Emanuel Goldberg from a professorship in
Emanuel Goldberg was not only a brilliant chemist and physicist, he was also an incredibly ingenious mechanic. In 1921 he constructed the relatively small 35mm movie camera, "Ica-Kinamo" which could be supplied in 2 versions: for 15m or 20m film cassette. Two years later, he invented a spring-motor drive that could be linked to the camera to improve the convenience of operation. To show what this sensational camera was good for, Emanuel Goldberg produced a series of short films with himself, his wife Sophie and their children in leading roles.
In the mid-twenties the stage was set for the next big merger in the camera industry. By 1920, there was a community of interest between Ica AG in
The start of the firm Zeiss Ikon AG on the 1th of October 1926 ended the story of the Ica AG, which had its beginning on the 7th of October 1909.
Herbert Blumtritt "Geschichte der Dresdner Foto-Industrie"
Richard Hummel "Spiegelreflexkameras aus Dresden"
Zeiss Ikon AG "Festschrift - 75 Jahre Photo-und Kinotechnik"
Thanks to Robert Stoddard for kind assistance