The Camera Site

Adox Kamerawerke, Wiesbaden, Germany (Adox Fotowerke Dr. C. Schleussner GmbH)

Adox Golf
Adox Golf 63 (1952-1958)

This 6x6 German rolfilm camera is a good exemplar of numerous brands of similar folding cameras during the fifties. This one is a basic version without the rangefinder.

I have always admired the accurate function of the folding mechanism in these old German cameras and Adox is not an exception. A common aspect to most of them is a rather simple and cumbersome "squinty" viewfinder, actually a small hole through the top plate with a glass on each end. Obviously the finder wasn't yet much of an importance during the fifties. If you could see through it enough to satisfyingly frame a picture, that was OK. Anyway, it is in most cases much better than those "bright finders" in the box cameras. So, lets give a Bill Askey style rating "recommended" to Adox Golf.

Adoxar 1:6,3 / 75mm lens and a Vario shutter 1/25-1/200, takes care of the exposure. Very useful feature is a double exposure prevention with an indicator. A small hole between the shutter release and a rewind knob signs red, when the new frame is ready for an exposure. Adox Golf is as rigid and well finished as any of the contemporary German folding camera. Camera is manufactured by Adox Kamerawerke in Wiesbaden.

The roots of the factory goes back to early twenties. In the year 1920 two brothers Henry (Heinrich) and Josef Wirgin in Wiesbaden established a company for the production and importing of cameras. Henry Wirgin was at this time 23 years old. Thus being a businessman he had also a knowledge and skills in precision mechanics. His younger brother Joseph was the technician. Two other brothers joined later the group. Max studied chemistry, defended a doctoral thesis and took care of the export business. The youngest, Wolf, was responsible for the financial sector.
The first Wiesbaden cameras were large format plate cameras and they bear the names like Gewir, Metadux, and Alwe Philos. In the late twenties the time of the plate cameras was coming to its end and the future belonged to the smaller and lighter roll film cameras. Such as folding 6x9 cm and 6x4 cm roll film cameras and soon followed by even smaller 24 x 36 format Gewirette and Edinex. In 1938 Adox (Fotowerke Dr. C. Schleussner GmbH) took over the camera factory of Wirgin because the Wirgin brothers had to leave Germany to escape from persecution by the German regime of that time.
After the war Henry Wirgin returned from exile and bought it back. The company recovered quickly and 1955 begun the manufacturing of Edixa Reflex.The first West German-made 24x36mm reflex camera with interchangeable lenses, interchangeable viewfinder and focal plane shutter to 1 / 1000 second. Edixa Reflex was quite a success, the company was expanding and soon it had about 300 employees. In the mid-60s came the Japanese competitors in the market and oust the German camera producers more and more of the world market. After the bankrupt in 1968, Photokina 1970 was the last occasion were the works of the of the Wirgin technicians was on the display. The TL Edixa Electronica, one of the first electronic cameras ever, but this was too late, because the market was now dominated by the Japanese and GDR manufacturers.
Source of information: Richard Rudolph's summation of the history of the
Kamerawerk Gebr. Wirgin, and on a series of Günther Kadlubek in the
magazine Photo Deal " Wirgin-Edixa - a German history ".

Adox was one of the a major photographic film and paper manufacturer prior to the 1970’s. The only folders made by Adox are Adox Sport (6x9) and the Adox Golf.

The brand name ADOX is not dead. You can visit at: ADOX FOTOIMPEX and just like in a TV Shop, this is not all. A small Croatian film maker EFKE is producing quality B&W films using the old ADOX formulas, that were first introduced in the 1950s. There is a ADOX in Canada and in Holland and in, ...or is it...uh... use Google..

Wirgin brothers in Wiesbaden founded a camera factory which was later sold to Dr. Schleussner (Adox). The ADOX, Dr. Schleussner Fotowerke was the first photochemical factory in the world. After two WWs, in 1962 the company was sold to Du Pont Company, USA.
Names like Edixa and Franka belonged to that history too. Just like many other European camera manufacturer they had to close down in early seventies because of a hard competition with Japanese producers.

Adoxar  

Adox Golf came with different lenses and shutters while the body remained similar. The "High End" Golf, Adox Golf III or Mess-Golf with built-in uncoupled rangefinder had Adoxar 1:4,5 / 75mm lens made by Will. Wetzlar in a Pronto shutter. (photo courtesy to John D. de Vries aka John D.esq)

Mechanism

Japanese invasion

During the fifties, when Finland was bouncing back from the devastation of the war against Soviet Union, a new car was a privilege only for the few rich people in Finland. Step by step life in this ruined and beaten country normalized.
Finland was the first nation in Europe to import Japanese cars. Datsun Bluebird Model 310 (Nissan) was the first bird. The acceptance was bursting but at the same time skeptical. The distrust vanished a lot after the successful non stop tour with Bluebird from Helsinki to Lapland and back to Helsinki.The tour was carried out by the Finnish tech-students. Roads in Finland at that time (1960) were to say the least, demanding. Trust in Japanese products was substantially increased. Few years later this Bluebird got a nickname "luupää" which means "bone head". This, because the car proved to be a very solid 310construction. Shortly after that, also cameras "Made in Japan" with their "Passed" stickers (JCII) got a reputation of a quality product. Especially what it comes to price/quality relation. Concurrently this meant the end of many well known brands within the whole western optical industry. The trigger for the conquest of the world was in a Korean War (1950-1953). David Duncan , a photographer for Life Magazine used his Leica cameras mounted with Nikkor lenses. The quality and sharpness of the resulting photos set of a sensation among the Life Magazine photo staff. As the word spread, the photographers of other magazines begin to use Nikkor lenses. A camera column in the The New York Times about Duncan's use of Nikkor lenses, Nippon Kogaku and Nikkor become famous all over the world.
The Japan Camera and Optical Instruments Inspection and Testing Institute (JCII) , was established in 1954. Camera industry members aware of the need to establish quality standards, to encourage their growth. Camera must pass JCII strict quality control tests before export. The image of a worthless rubbish begun to fade and soon "Made in Japan" was a quarantee of the quality.
To the 1960s, only Germany was left as a major competitor. The the manufacturers in the United States, Britain and France, withdrawned from the market. Later, the Japanese gradually evolved into a competition between the domestic manufacturers. From 1954 onwards, there were about 170 Japanese companies producing cameras but in 1984 only 32 manufacturers were left.
In 1967 Japan displaced West Germany as the world's top producer of cameras and as you well know, Japan still is a leading manufacturer of optical and electrical consumer goods. Perhaps South Korea or China is passing by soon.

©2008 Reijo Lauro