|June 10, 2013||Posted by Photo GearHead under Cool Gear Auctions|
Contrary to popular belief, Balda Baldax is not, in fact, the name of an evil space-trader -slash- mercenary -slash- intergalactic pirate in George Lucas‘ fabled Star Wars universe. It was, instead, actually the model name of a pretty funky little German-made vintage folding camera.
Founded in Dresden, Germany way, way back in 1908, and adopting the official name Balda-Werk Max Baldeweg five years later, the Balda camera company specialized in producing medium priced folding cameras right up until the beginning of World War II. Balda was also notable for being an early adopter of OEM marketing — producing and selling models of cameras to other companies to be re-branded and sold under the purchasing company’s private label.
After World War II ended, Balda was nationalized in East Germany, and its founder, Max Baldeweg, fled to West Gemany, started a new company under the name Balda-Werk Bűnde, and began producing 35mm and medium format cameras. Continuing on with the OEM marketing model, Balda produced many cameras that were sold undo the “Harpo” brand name during this era. Other companies were common purveyors of various Balda cameras in disguise were Porst (under their “Lisette” line), Müller, Rodenstock, and others. The Balda Baldax was also copied by Takachiho (The company that eventually became Olympus) for the Japanese market and released as the “Semi Olympus” — being, in effect, the very first camera ever produced by Olympus.
During their run as a manufacturer of folding cameras, Balda produced a series of cameras called the “Baldax.” The series consisted of a 4.5X6 small shutter model, a 4.5X6 large shutter model, and a 6X6 model. Production began in the early 1930s and continued into the post-war era. The one that has come up for auction today is most certainly a pre-war model, as the post-war Baldas were stylistically different. However, the seller does not have information on the exact date of manufacture for this particular camera — which is in keeping with the early Balda Baldax cameras being somewhat notorious for being difficult to accurately date. It does, however, have the very much desirable Carl Zeiss lens — which wasn’t included on every Balda Baldax sold — many of them being fitted with Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar lenses as well as lens models from other manufacturers.
The pre-war Balda Baldax cameras were compact folding bellows, auto-erecting cameras with optical folding view finders that shot 120mm roll film — as was previously mentioned, in either a 4.5X6, or 6X6 format, depending on the specific model. They featured F. Deckel – Munchen compur shutters.
The seller of this particular Balda Baldax assures that the camera is in fair to good condition, and is including a case and shoulder strap. Although, the shoulder strap is reported as appearing “brittle.” The lens on this Balda Baldax is reported as being the Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 1:2.8 F=7.5. The bidding starts at $150.00 USD, and there are currently no bids as of the time of this writing. The auction is set to end on June 17th. The auction can be viewed by clicking here.