Do you remember Ansco cameras and films?
For many decades, Ansco was second only to Kodak in the United States. Headquartered in Binghamton, New York, the company’s history stretched back to 1841. But its peak years were probably the 1950s, when it routinely manufactured two million cameras a year.
Ansco manufactured simple cameras that anyone could operate, like my Ansco Shur Shot box camera.
Ansco also imported more fully featured cameras from other makers around the world, including Agfa, Ricoh, and Minolta, and rebadged them as Anscos.
During the 1950s, Ansco advertised its cameras and films on television. Many of its commercials were shot on film, and survive.
Here’s a short spot for Ansco films with a simple jingle. Don’t those harmonies just scream 1950s?
Here’s a spot for three Ansco cameras that took 127 film. Ansco manufactured the two Cadet cameras, but imported the Lancer from a German maker. I had a Lancer in my childhood collection. I never put film into it because its weak latch kept popping open, which would have spoiled the film. I hear that this was a common problem with Lancers.
This spot for Anscochrome color slide film mentions its “big extra margin of sensitivity” that makes up for challenging lighting. It also mentions making prints from slides using the Printon process. You can see a Printon print here, which shows that Anscochrome was a capable film.
If you have boxes full of Anscochrome slides, you’re going to want to project them. So you’ll need an Anscomatic projector!
It cracks me up how formally everybody dressed in these commercials. In the 1950s, did friends really gather casually in each others’ homes wearing suits?
Whatever happened to Ansco? Well, in 1967 it began to favor using the name of its parent, General Aniline and Film, or GAF. As GAF, it stopped making cameras, instead selling GAF-branded cameras that other companies made. By the late 1970s, the Ansco brand name was sold to a Chinese camera maker. You could buy Chinese Ansco film cameras through the 1990s.